How did the idea to make "Pushed" come about?
"Pushed" which was originally called "We Love You" was planned to be a work that is connected to skateboarding - that was the first, simple idea I was carrying around for like six years. AFter realizing some short fiction movies, I started to concentrate more on the idea that I wanted to express: With me being a filmmaker because of skateboarding ('cause I came to it by editing the footage of my friends) I was looking for people who have a certain kind of output, that is related to skateboarding while getting the biggest part of the input through skateboarding as well. It took three minutes to have the list of characters who, at the end, all show up in the movie.
What I first wanted to show was basically an epic mistake: I wanted to proof that skateboarding is something creative and that it gives you the possibility to work in artistic fields. This idea is basically big bullshit. It would have become a pamphlet, a commercial for skateboarding - no critical point of view, no documentary at all. Luckily, I realized that these guys I started to meet and portrait are very interesting personas - and they were very open minded to me- So we got the possibility to really get them to know, take a look at their ambivalence, their problems, moods, and tempers. What came out of this process is a look on quarter-life crises activities, on age, money, the industry, D.I.Y. culture and a pleasure connected to a subculture we call Skateboarding.
Why is documentary film important to skateboarding?
I don't really know if documentary film is important to skateboarding. I can't really say at all. What I know is that skateboarding and the related so called sub culture is very progressive and very smug at the same time. This oxymoron makes it interesting to look at certain fields, characters, developments, trends etc. And a very good way to show what is going on is through documentary film. If you make it good, it can be important to skateboarding, for sure. But it can also just be an image film for skateboarding, looking like most of the videos. There are so called documentary films that work like this. But wait - I guess it can also be important to get a view on the history. I am not one of these "KNOW YOUR HISTORY!" fundamentalists but it can be useful, for sure. I would have never really understood the Rocco situation without "The Man Who Souled The World" for example...
Did you know Stefan, Adam, Pontus, & Bobby prior to the production?
No, not at all! I met Stefan first, shortly before I moved to Hamburg but I was into his work for like ten years before. We came along pretty good and after he realized that I didn't want to do a sellout project under his name he was basically down for everything. And Stefan knowing Pontus, he was constantly pushing him to work with me on the movie - getting to shoot with Pontus took like two years to find a date... Adam was immediately down for it as well, calling it an "honor" to be in there with these people. Getting close to Bobby took a little while because I wasn't able to find his contacts. After getting them and talking about my plans, he was down as well. But basically, you can say that I got to know the people while shooting with them.
What interesting stories do you have from working on the film so far?
Oh man, I could talk for hours! Meeting Bobby was a point - he didn't really respond to all the mails I sent him and when we arrived at NYC, we just met him on the street. We were on our way to take a look at Brooklyn, having the camera and mic and so on with us. Then he just rolled down the street...
Or the microphone situation - Bobby didn't feel comfortable with a little mic on his neck. He said people would realize immediately. Instead, we were shooting with a two-meter telescope microphone, as subtle as a lighthouse...
Getting to know Pontus while he was organizing his birthday party was very impressive as well. Becoming thirty, finishing your movie, taking care of five dozens of foreign visitors, picking them up at the airport, showing them around, visiting a contest, having the film team around you... it was a miracle he didn't went berserk on this weekend!
The fact that in three years of work, basically everything worked out! No broken cam, no injuries, no arrested parts of the crew... finding the perfect director of photography two weeks before starting to shoot... stuff like that. Normally you have to improvise all the time, every day...
The editing! Getting inside your editing room for eight months straight, playing with the big puzzle, finding harmonies, deleting plans you made months ago... I suppose it's always the most interesting part! When you see the film "getting born".
The Interviews! I was shooting like twenty five interviews with other guys from the skateboard scene - I wasn't sure if it is possible to "explain" the guys just by themselves. It turned out to be the best part of the editing that these guys just "work" without being explained by any "hypers" or other guys.
And - meeting guys that you've always respected can be very easy! You just have to ask!
What have been the biggest barriers to getting the film made?
Finding a place to edit the flick. And then, after being disappointed by my university, just buying the computer by myself and making it at home, becoming a nightmare of a roommate, looking like a bum, constantly wearing a bathrobe, turning pale, smoking like a chimney, having nothing else to talk about... stuff like that. But: That was fun as well!
Where and when can we buy a copy?
Stay tuned! There will be huge amounts of copies, I hope in Spring 2012. Until then, I am trying to churn the film festivals with the movie. I'll let you guys know, but I think I am distributing it either with the help of Carhartt or by myself - like Pontus did with "InSearchOfTheMiraculous".
I would like to thank Lars and Bertrand at Carhartt who made all this possible. Honestly! Without these two guys, the movie wouldn't exist or, at least would take some twelve years more to realize! Although I would like to thank Michael Schmid and Georg Reinhardt who were always supporting and motivating me on the project, adding some very good graphic design! And, last but not least: Felix Zenker! Felix Zenker! Felix Zenker! He did rock the movie and I have to thank him a lot that the movie looks how it looks and that he realized visually what I had in my mind!
Interview: Nick Wnorowski