Thursday, January 10, 2013

Road to Sundance 2013: HOUSTON, directed by Bastian Guenther

Bastian Guenther, the director of HOUSTON, answers All About Indie Filmmaking's questions about the film, which is competing in the World Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2013. 

Tell us about your film.

Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. On the hunt for a top CEO in Houston, Texas, his addiction takes him on a haunting journey into his own darkness.

What inspired you to make it?

My first idea was to make a film about an addict. I didn’t want to make a typical drama about an alcoholic but rather a film that puts the addiction in a bigger context in terms of our modern way of life, the systems we create and support every day. Since addiction and our economy run on similar rules – short term goals and short term satisfactions – it made perfect sense to me that the main character is both an addict and a recruiter for CEOs of global corporations.

What do you love about your film?

It has a certain openness. It leaves room for the viewer's imagination to take a hold of the story and characters. It poses questions that hopefully the audience thinks about, in terms of modern life and the inhuman systems that we support which alienate us from each other and even from ourselves. I also really like the look that we created for HOUSTON. We shot on 35mm cinemascope and used old Russian lenses.

How long did it take you to make your film?

I started with the first idea almost 5 years ago.

How did you finance your film?

Several German film fundings and two German television stations financed the film.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?

Certainly shooting in two countries and having two seperate pre-productions was the most challenging part. Low budget independent filmmaking leaves little room for complaining. You just do it, and the process itself creates energy. A lot of creative discovery happens in production, and this feels like movie magic.

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance.

I guess everyone says this, but I had to ask my producer several times if he was serious when he told me the news. I always believed Sundance was the ideal place to premiere HOUSTON, and so I am incredibly happy and honored to have been invited. I came here three years ago (just to watch movies), and I loved the atmosphere and the films.
If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?

Each time you make a film, you find at least a little detail (sometimes more) that you would do differently next time. I’m very happy with the film and how it turned out, but I’m sure that in time, I will find something that drives me nuts.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?

The film already has distribution in Germany and is scheduled to hit the screens in fall 2013. During Sundance, we will look for a U.S. distributor. Beyond that we hope to screen HOUSTON in other festivals across the U.S. Since I’m working on a new film in Texas, it would be helpful if a lot of people see HOUSTON. The film was made for the big screen, and this is where I hope people get to see it.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?

Phew. I think the most important thing is to follow your vision. As "romantic" and naive as this sounds, I believe it’s true.

Check out the trailer for HOUSTON here: 

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