Hi Monika, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I fell in love with Of Girls and Horses.
Thanks, Yazy, I’m happy you dig the film!
Was it challenging working with horses? - had the actresses had any previous experience riding?
In the beginning I was afraid that it’d be difficult to work with the horses, - there is a saying: beware of small children and animals when shooting - we had no animal wrangler on the projet due to our low budget and the horses were not trained to be on camera. But, since the farmers, our location givers whose horses we could use, were wonderfully relaxed people their horses were equally relaxed. They were actually enjoying to be on camera, they liked our attention and of course the treats we’d spoil them with, mostly carrots and apples. – Ceci, who plays troubled Alex, had no previous experience with horses. During the casting process I took her to a horse stable and made sure she was at least not afraid of horses. Alissa who plays Kathy is an experienced rider, she has her own horse. And of course I casted her horse for the film as well. Vanida, the riding instructor, is a good rider too and I made her train with a horse whisperer before the shoot so she could do the trick: riding the horse without saddle and andything, with closed eyes and directing it only by body movements.
It was amazing to watch a film that strayed away from a formulaic storyline, was this always your intention?
Oh yes, that was the idea, to focus on subtle elements, avoid big drama and leave space for the actors to improvise.
Obviously an individual interprets films differently to the next person. My own interpretation was that a sense of mental freedom can be found within particular environments and how love and friendships blossom over a mutual love. What was the message you wanted to portray with this film?
You’ve actually voiced one message already in your question. I also wanted to give the audience a break from our hectic digital life and provide them with a cinematic experience of the soothing slow pace of rural existence. Also picturing the beauty of horses and paying hommage to (small) farmers, a profession which is slowly vanishing from the face of the earth.
Looking back to when you directed the film, is there any particular moment which left you with goosebumps or tears in your eyes, or even made you laugh?
When we shot the scene with Vanida who plays Nina, the riding instructor, cantering with closed eyes I didn’t know whether this would work out. And when it did and the horse and Vanida seemed to be in perfect synch I really had goose bumps. Oh, a funny incident: we lost an extra, who was supposed to play a drug dealer, last minute before we shot the scene in the disco. I had to go out to the streets and find someone right away. It so happens I approached a young guy in a big group of teens and twens who were hanging out in front of the place. He immediately agreed to pose as a shady figure. When we entered the location the doormen said: no, you can’t bring him in, he is a drug dealer. But luckily we managed to talk them into making an exception for our shoot.
Aside from working with horses, what was the most challenging aspect of your film?
I guess it was the lack of time, we had only 18 shooting days - and the always changing weather due to the ocean climate. We had to be extremely flexible and change our shooting schedule many times since the weather was unpredictable: the day would start sunny and after two hours we were drenchend in rain.
There was some amazing cinematography work. How did you find working along side Birgit Möller?
Birgit was an absolute delight to work with. I’ve been liking her work and a big plus was that she is an avid animal especially horse lover. So we both loved to be very close to the creatures and Birgit did a great job capturing their presence on camera.
What was it about the script of the film which made you decide to direct it?
Actually I wrote the script and rewrote and fine-tuned it after the casting process and after we had found the location. This way the story could draw from the given, the specific actresses and the location.
Do you think the OF GIRLS AND HORSES could work with a sequel? If yes, what would you envision? If no, why not?
To me OF GIRLS AND HORSES is a one time movie. Logically the sequel would follow the two girls and their adventures in the big city. But the main fun for me was to be able to work -and while working also live- in this specific remote countyside, the most Northern point of Germany.