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How to become an award-winning movie production

"Quick and cheap is the death of every good movie"

In the “Picture Instruments Customer Stories” we talk about the inspiring stories of our customers and partner companies who achieved their visions by using the “Picture Instruments Software”. Today Philipp Fussenegger, movie maker, film director, screenwriter, founder and managing director of funfairfilms, talks with us about the development from a movie collective to an innovative and award-winning German-Austrian film production.

PI: What are you working on right now? I heard that you travel a lot.
Philipp: Yes, that’s correct. Right now I don’t stay in one place for a long time. I’m working on my cinema movie debut “Tigress in the Cage“, which will be filmed in New York in 2020. We’re in the middle of the casting process right now. At the same time we’re working on the completion of our cinema documentary “The Tigress“.

PI: Wow, that sounds exciting. What are your current projects about?
Philipp: My first full-length film “Tigress in the Cage“ will be a dark drama with big cinematic power. It’s about a female bodybuilder that wants to turn professional and goes to the USA. There she is confronted with the dark side of the bodybuilding industry and with the discrimination and prejudices. While I developed the material I also had the idea to produce a documentary at the same time.

PI: Unconventional topic. How did you get the idea for this movie?
Philipp: I’m already working on the idea for a long time and I’m part of that secretive milieu. I always felt limited by the image of the stereotypical male and the female bodybuilders have shown me how good it can be for you to shape your outward appearance. With this movie I want to show how much discipline and grace it takes to do what these women are doing. Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown 30 years ago that heroes need muscles, now we show that heroines can also have a lot of muscles.

PI: Not the first movie from funfairfilms that deals with an unusual topic.
Philipp: Yes, the ambitious goal of funfairfilms is to establish ourselves as European and unconventional film makers, to keep our creative and artistic freedom and to enrich the German movie scene with innovative, relevant and universally told stories. Our way of working and that of our international partners is especially characterized by a fearless and unbiased approach. For that reason I’m always looking for stories that are difficult to access and haven’t been told before. I’m looking for the corners that remained in the dark so far, the milieus and people that others don’t know. I love stories that surprise. I’m interested in human abysses, so I’m looking to gain access to worlds that most people haven’t seen before.

PI: The approach definitely paid off so far. Most of your productions received awards.
Philipp: You can put it that way. In 2016 our film “Henry“ was awarded the First Steps Award in the category “Medium-length movie“ and was nominated for the Austrian film award. In 2017 the pilot episode of our comedy series “Die Schilehrer“ premiered at the “Hofer Filmtage” and became a favorite with the audience. Right now you can watch the episode on Amazon Prime. The movie “Bester Mann” that was co-produced with the Academy of Media Arts Cologne had a brilliant premiere in 2018 at the “Max-Ophüls Preis Festival” and won in the category “Medium-length film”. And at the 1. Big Shorts Award Frederik Schmid was recently awarded for his outstanding performance in "Bester Mann".

PI: That’s impressive. How does funfairfilms work to be so successful?
Philipp: I put everything I have into all of my projects. Because only that which hurts a little, becomes really good. I expect the same from my team. It seems to be one of my talents to push them to give everything they’ve got. That’s how we work. We have a flat hierarchy and everything we do, we do for the movie. My philosophy is: Everyone reaches his own limits.

PI: What are in your opinion the necessary ingredients for the production of a good movie?
Philipp: The team is essential and you also need a good idea. That’s the reason why we have a versatile European team with intercultural curriculums and a need to create radical, artistic and expressive movies. We profit from strong and experienced partners that support funfairfilms in the areas of story development, production, post-production, marketing and distribution in an ideal way.

PI: But that can’t be everything, can it?
Philipp: No. Talent isn’t the only thing you need for movie making, you also need a lot of perseverance. A hard selection takes place in this industry. It’s difficult. But I discovered an important ingredient. Time. Time to make mistakes and time to also correct them. Time costs money and movies nowadays are supposed to be quick and cheap. But that’s the death for every good movie. We take a lot of time.

PI: How are you able to do that?
Philipp: You can gain time through new technologies, for example by using new cameras or new software. When I was a photographer I was already looking for solutions that give me more time for creativity.

PI: You use “Color Cone” from us?
Philipp: Yes, we use your software. A really good and simple tool that I not only use for the color correction of my photos and for the creation of looks. I also love “Color Cone” as plugin for Premiere for color grading and I was also able to convince my team of it, when the plugin came out in April last year. You can simply do even more individual corrections and the program use is very intuitive. My editor Judy Landkammer and I were absolutely amazed, when you showed us “Warping Wheels”. The three-way color correction is great for color grading and the features that allow you to protect and restore the skin tones make “Warping Wheels” way superior to the regular “Color Wheels”. And this is how we get back to the topic of saving time, because you save a lot of time and money if you don’t have to mask and track skin tones anymore. We used “Warping Wheels” for the first time for the color grading of “The Tigress” and the results so far are really amazing.

PI: Thank you, it’s always motivating to get such a feedback. And I can only agree, because what I’ve seen so far from your work with “Warping Wheels” has also convinced me. I’m really looking forward to the end result!
Philipp: You’ll be one of the first people to hear of any news.

PI: But there’s one thing that you have to tell me. How do you get your projects financed?
Philipp: Fortunately there are many possibilities. For one, I profit as an artist in combination with my film production from the Austrian and also from the German film and art subsidy. I also work in co-operation with other institutes, film productions, artists and also associations that have access to money. Furthermore I receive price money for my films, for example through the First Steps Award 2016, but my work as artist is also rewarded, so I received a recognition award as part of the “Vorarlberger Culture Prize”.

PI: And what do you do if you don’t receive any subsidies or if the subsidies aren’t enough anymore?
Philipp: If the subsidies aren’t enough or if our requests for money aren’t successful, then there’s still the crowdfunding. My graduate thesis film “Henry” was financed that way. We did a similar thing with the anthology film for “Die Schilehrer“. And as a last resort there are also private investors that directly invest in or donate for the production or that are co-producers for projects with a higher budget.

PI: It’s good to hear that there are so many possibilities for grants for creative people. Thank you for taking the time to explain to me and to our Picture Instruments customers everything so thoroughly. I wish you a lot of success in the future.
Philipp: Thank you and I’m looking forward to present the Picture Instruments Team and your customers the finished films and until then you can watch the pilot episode of "Die Schilehrer" on Amazon.

You’ll get a complete overview of the work of Philipp Fussenegger and funfairfilms on!

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