I grew up quite “Sound of Music”- style, in a small town in Carinthia, a picturesque region, in the very South of Austria. Bordering with Italy and Slovenia it’s a mystical land distinguished by a dramatic landscape of steep mountain ranges, and crystal-clear lakes, deep valleys and dark forests. Hot springs, haunted castles and ruins full of ancient tales and history add to the mythically-enchanted atmosphere.
It was perhaps already then, in this culturally rich and somewhat isolated environment, that the foundation for who I’m today as a person and an artist was laid.
Ever since I can remember, I have been very curious and determined to explore a subject or story deeper. Before I went to school for example I got really frustrated and bored when my mum would read a book next to me. As a result, I taught myself the alphabet and started to read while I was still in Kindergarten. We didn’t have television at that time yet and I went through book after book to keep myself busy – It must have been hundreds over the years.
The books and all those stories enflamed my phantasy. It was like pouring oil into fire. I remember times during my childhood where I would completely dive into a certain period or theme and gather as much information and objects regarding a certain subject or period as I could find. Since this was before internet, and our local bookshop was tiny, I used all kinds of sources. When we learned in elementary school about the visit of the last Austrian empress in my hometown during WWI in 1917 for example, I got so intrigued by that idea, that with the help of my grandmother, I actually managed to find a very old woman who could still remember this event. I wouldn’t stop to ask questions and she had to tell it to me over and over in all details. Another example would be a later obsession with naval history and the Spanish Armada – where I intended to completely re-decorate my bedroom to make it look like the replica of captain’s cabin on an old galleon – Ship’s Bell included!
What might seem like some sort of eccentricity at first, actually was nothing else than the origin of how my creative process as a director still works today: It is based on the natural curiosity, instinct and interest to explore the soul of each project and brand, as diverse as they might be, source the inspiration, distill the information, and create the film. The deeper you dig beforehand the more profound the motion piece usually gets. No matter if it is 30 seconds or 2hours long.
Yes, looking at it now, filmmaking has always been in my veins and therefore it is quite curious, that I actually never really knew I could become a director until I was one. I guess simply because I hadn’t been exposed to this world. Things rather happened progressively for me: I left the mountains and first studied international economics in Vienna, then I did a Masters in Marketing & Communications in Paris. During that time, I met Oliver Hirschbiegel, Oscar nominated Director of “The Downfall” at a party. This was the first time I started to think about a potential career in the movie industry. UCLA film-school followed.
However, through different obstacles that life threw at me,
it wasn’t until years later when I worked in luxury advertising in New York City that, almost by chance, I directed my first fashion-film. The rest is history….
Through my professional as well as private life I have been very lucky to meet-, and learn from extraordinary personalities along the way, live in several countries, and to have acquired the availability to speak five different languages fluently (German, English, French, Spanish and Italian). My multicultural sensibility and understanding also reflects in my work, often drawing inspirations from Italian and French cinema, photography – everything from Helmut Newton to Peter Beard, music – here again I’m really diverse and go through different periods and styles – from Johann Sebastian Bach to the Freemasons and everything in between.
I’m constantly observing things, watching people, situations and moments. Sometimes I take notes or pictures, sometimes these observations just become memories. Then, one day, they re-appear in modified form, in a scene of a film of mine.
No matter what the project is, if big or small, my ultimate goal is always the same: To create a visually beautiful film that evokes emotion and touches people.