9th September 2013
On a roll
Title of film: John Legend - Made to Love
Director: Daniel Sannwald
Production Company: Iconoclast
One of the most original contemporary photographers, Daniel Sannwald melted our hearts with his video for John Legend. While we await his new film for M.I.A. we catch up with the exciting new director - see a selection of stills and more videos in Related Content

How did your filmic language evolve – was it a natural progression from your stills work? Is there a cross over with your photographic work and your film making – does one feed the other?

Film was actually my starting point and I turned to photography from there. As a teenager I obsessed over being a filmmaker. I loved independent filmmaking and often went to the film museum in Munich. My father was a filmmaker which inadvertently influenced me. The video I shot with John legend is a very good example of both mediums crossing over because I used a lot of ideas that I typically worked into my photographic images and translated them onto my moving images. A lot of the techniques that I had been exploring in my images I applied to my films. My still images are also very beautiful in movement which translates well into film as well.

Please describe your creative process – do your ideas evolve from the pressure of having a brief, do you sketch out ideas, write ideas down etc?

I shape out my ideas to fit a brief yes, but I have a solid foundation of references that inspire me. I do spend a good amount of time researching, going to galleries, visiting libraries, online archives. It’s also taking inspiration from things we see in our ever day lives. I definitely sketch out my ideas and use mood boards to sort out what I see.

Both your photography and videos involve technical wizardry. At what stage in your creative process work do you plan the vfx element – is it integral to your initial ideas or do you do a lot of experimenting before arriving at a visual decision?

I take different approaches depending on the project. Testing is a big part of the process. We do tests in studio, I love to experiment, my team and I are always trying out new technologies and new ways of creating imagery. We always welcome unexpected results, and we’re never afraid of failure. It’s about being very confident on creating great images. Even if we haven’t tried something out before; we are always experimenting until we create something great.

What were the main challenges of making the John Legend video, Made to Love?

This is actually the first music video I shot. So it was very monumental and very much a dream come true. Music videos are a great influence to why I am working in my creative field. Directors like Hype Williams and Chris Cunningham are really a reason why I decided to become an image maker as well. For Made to Love we filmed so many beautiful scenes and ended up with around 22 hours of material. The hardest part was that everything was very stunning. My biggest challenge was editing down all the video rushes.

Do you collaborate with other operators and artists or do you mainly work alone?

One of my strengths is that I love working with other people. I would say that I am not at all egocentric about my work and I love working in collaborations. Getting input from different sides, fusing them together with my vision and pushing them forward is really what makes my work. I love working in teams.

What kit do you work with – in terms of effects programmes?

It always depends on the project. Whether it’s still or moving image every idea and project has its own perfect tool. Once I get an idea or brief, it’s about finding the right tool for the project. I don’t necessarily have a favorite tool that I can apply to all my ideas. It’s about changing it up. I’m really obsessed with technology so I love thermal cameras, laser scans, iphones, red cameras, Hasselblads…etc.

And what is your favourite camera and lens for stills and video?

I mainly shoot on Hasselblad but my favorite image I have ever shot, Joan Smalls cover of Pop, was shot on an iphone.

You’ve worked with fashion brands as well as style editorials and now creating very cool music videos. Where does your heart lie?

I really enjoy working with moving images these days and being able to channel the feeling of a musician into visuals. However I really like both music and fashion, I would not like to choose one over the other.

In a couple of lines can you summarize your childhood please?

I grew up on a small cottage in the country side of South Germany. Getting milk from the cows, next door, and running in the green fields around our house. It was a great way of growing up being so close with nature and being free from any city life distraction. My family and I moved to the centre of Munich when I was five years old. I enjoyed having both the city and the countryside in my childhood.

Are you self taught or film or art school trained?

My late father was a video artist so I learned a lot from observing him in my unconscious as a child. I studied visual arts and majored in Video and Photo at the Royal Academy in Antwerp / Belgium.

Are you signed to a production company?

No, but I am signed with the Agency Management + Artist.

If you can say, what are you working on now. Our hunch is that it’s for a music video for M.I.A.!!

Yes indeed, I just finished a Music Video for M.I.A’s next single release. I am very excited about this collaboration. It’s going to be fresh 😉



John Legend, Made to Love

Director: Daniel Sannwald

Production company: Iconoclast