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An Interview with Luca Paris, Director of Denkraum

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2022

Films directed by Luca Paris on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Denkraum - in a few words, what is it about?


In a few words, Denkraum is about a schizophrenic mind with homicidal impulses that processes communication on social networks in its darkest and most occult facets.


What's your personal take on/attitude towards social media and the like, and to what degree is it mirrored in Denkraum?


In the movie Denkraum I somehow allude to all the most dangerous and distorted uses of social networks, cyberbullying, conspiracy, fake news, the isolation of some young people of the new generations in a virtual world (hikikomori). These are all problems that I have encountered with the spread of social networks, but at the same time I recognize their usefulness and I take full advantage of their communicative potential. I would never have been able to shoot this film for example without Facebook, I would not have been able to contact most of the people who participated. And even now I continue to interface with producers and professionals in the sector from all over the world thanks to social networks.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Denkraum?


The first source of inspiration was Fincher's film The Social Network. After watching that movie I thought about what would have happened if there was a criminal mastermind behind the development of a social network. Then there are many other cinematographic influences, from Lynch, Pi by Aronofsky, Polanski (the Apartment Trilogy), A Clockwork Orange by Kubrick, The Kingdom by Lars Von Trier, the Italian horror movies of the 60s/70s (Mario Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here], Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio - click here]), Cronenberg, J-horror movies and a lot of experimental cinema such as Level 5 by Chris Marker, and also literary references from Stephen King to Kafka and Dostojevskji's Notes from Underground.


When it comes to narration, Denkraum doesn't necessarily follow a linear storyline - so do talk about the movie's narrative structure a bit, and how easy or hard was it not to lose one's plot writing a telling a story this way?


Denkraum has a narrative structure open to many readings. Alex designs the Denkraum social network (or app or website), and from here the viewer may believe that what he sees is real or a projection. There are misleading clues as to who took control of Denkraum, whether an occult group called The Circle or Alex himself or all could be his hallucination. The viewer is required to make an interactive effort to be able to reconstruct the puzzle. It was very difficult, I rewrote the film during the editing many times to get to this result, which was also the only way to make such a project interesting.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


When you make a film like this you have to organize not only the shooting, but you also have to think in advance about what you could do in case of any problem. And in any case, the first goal is to take the best out of what is available on set. The smooth handheld footage, often with the support of a flycam, was very helpful for this purpose, in addition to the surreal atmosphere I created throughout the film. In this way I was free then in the editing to reconstruct what I wanted. Disorienting camera angles, blurring, wide-angle lenses and cinematography with sharp cut lights and numerous scenes that hinder clear vision then served to provide a dark and disturbing tone.


Do talk about Denkraum's key cast, and why exactly these people?


Most of Denkraum's actors are non-professionals, they were chosen mainly on the basis of their faces and what they could express. For example, Manuel Melluso suited the protagonist Alex perfectly in appearing nerdy and dangerous at the same time, and Alba Barbullushi to Alice, a girl with a pretty face who gets lost in her nightmares. I also modified the script to adapt itself to the actors I had, many of them had a more theatrical than cinematic setting, so I tried to always stay on the same experimental and obsessive tone suitable for an experimental independent movie.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The whole film was shot almost without a budget, so the set was open to all kinds of unforeseen events. I was ready to replace an actor at the last moment, to reverse the order of some shots or to modify them. I believe that this is the best situation to force a director to develop his creativity. It is not easy to be heard when you are making your first film, but somehow or other in the end I always managed to get what I wanted, with a lot of patience. In these situations, a discussion gone wrong is enough for people to leave you, you have to be good at working as a psychologist.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Denkraum?


The reception of the critics is very positive, I didn't have the confidence that someone would really appreciate my work, given its peculiarity. Several viewers too, including film professionals, have written to compliment me. I'm sure it will be much better when I manage to make my next features more expensive, with producers who know how to invest much more in advertising and distribution.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


In the last two years I have written other scripts of different genres, including a horror/thriller movie in which several production companies have been interested, they consider it very valid so I will most likely be able to make a film with a decent budget soon. Then I have a crime TV series whose story has been highly appreciated by Sky in Italy, and I'm developing the pilot episode because a French production company could help me make it. Finally there are other projects of which I will figure out later in my career to whom to propose them to, I am always optimistic.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


At college I studied architecture, but I have always had a passion for cinema. I started writing and then shooting Denkraum when I was finishing my thesis in architecture on the scenography in horror films and the sense of the uncanny in the settings. I like seeing and making films, even if working on such a film was very hard. So before Denkraum I had not received any formal training on the subject. I only formally studied filmmaking at the New York Film Academy in 2019, when I was finishing the editing of the film. I think that filmmaking is my best way to communicate with the world and the people, so I needed to do it.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Denkraum?


Actually it all started with Denkraum in 2015, I wrote it and then I found people in my town to help me shoot it, even if the film was then completed with Movie Logic and Bluecinematv definitively only in 2020 and released in 2021. I worked as assistant director on some films in Italy and I made short films during my studies at the New York Film Academy between 2016 and 2019, practically between the shooting of Denkraum and the end of its post-production.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Now I think I'm very creative as a director and I know how to adapt to any kind of situation on the set, even unexpected ones. I also think I have acquired a very personal style in this path that I am sure I will be able to demonstrate even more with my next projects. There are a lot of producers and critics who liked my first films and my scripts, so I think I'm much more confident now. If I had embarked on a more canonical path, I am sure that now I would have much less to tell.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


The list would be very long, I have watched so many movies every day since I was very young. Based on each directing situation, references always come to mind, and I also show them to the crew on set. I must say that I would not be a director if it weren't for Tarantino, Rodriguez, Aronofsky, Linklater and Nolan, who taught in the 90s that a passion for cinema can allow you to achieve incredible goals even without an adequate budget, and even Troma have always done so, Combat Shock is one of my favorite films, or even earlier Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here] with his production company. In general, my first project took inspiration from all the independent, underground and experimental cinema but for the next ones I will also have other types of references.


Your favourite movies?


This is also difficult but I will mention the ones I have seen several times: Mulholland Drive by Lynch, Taxi Diver by Scorsese, Scanners by Cronenberg, Rosemary's Baby by Polanski, Once upon a Time in America by Sergio Leone, Fellini’s , Love Exposure by Sion Sono, Last Year in Marienbad by Resnais, Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Tetsuo by Tsukamoto, Solaris by Tarkovsky, The Long Goodbye by Altman, Carpenter’s Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, Accattone by Pasolini, The Exterminating Angel by Bunuel.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I deplore many Italian films of the last twenty years because people who know little about cinema are entrusted with great productions only for kinship and friendships, sometimes it seems that it had been decided from the start that every actor would act in the worst possible way. Or there are directors exalted by Italian critics who imitate the independent cinema of other nations without being able to reach the same results, some more some less. And then even worse only the hundreds of films they make here every year that start from a social premise and do not go further. I do not like the Italian situation in general because merit is no longer awarded, it is a shame for the important history of cinema in this nation.


Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?


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I just like websites that also deal with not-too-hyped movies like this one here or 366weirdmovies, because you can see that the writers actually love cinema, not just famous actors… Then I always follow Indiewire and I like NoFilmSchool and Filmmakinglifestyle because they start from a correct premise and technically deepen every aspect of film direction. Then I love a Facebook group called Incredibly Strange Films, and I follow the pages of my favorite directors.


Anything else you're dying to mention and I've merely forgotten to ask?


Yes, to complete the interview I want to thank all the people who made Denkraum possible, from the actors to the videomakers, especially Alberto Fertillo and Pierfrancesco Nalli, also the guys who came for even just an hour to help those who lent me the equipment, or gave me the possibility of shooting at their houses or in their clubs, and who also helped me in the organization, like my brother Danilo Paris, Valerio Mariani, Andrey Maslenkin, and finally to Movie Logic who then officially produced the film and helped me finish the post-production with two professionals, Michele Fiori at sound design and Matteo Accurso for VFX.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


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written by
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