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21st November 2013
Bottom line
Title of film: Studies on Hysteria
Director: Matthias Bäuerle, Gabriel Borgetto, Bernd Faaß
Costume design was the easy bit in this gem of a film created by a student directing trio - Matthias Bäuerle, Gabriel Borgetto and Bernd Faaß - from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg

How did you manage to find such a large cast willing to take their clothes off?

Every movie has its own tricky part and when we had the idea for this project, it was quite clear that finding nudes was going to be it. We all agreed that the protagonists had to be cast with real actors, so the challenge was to find five professional actors who would act for free and naked.

Gabriel was in charge of casting and started off by watching many showreels on the web to find the perfect face for each character. When the actors read the script, pretty much all of them thought it was a funny idea and realized that it was social satire rather than soft porn.

Finding the right actor for Adam was the most challenging part and we found the perfect guy only seven days before the shooting started.

For scouting the extras we threw ourselves into nudist forums and blogs on the internet. Felix put some ads in local newspapers and as a result, a big German radio station voluntarily made a call for extras on their daily news. The feedback was exceptional.

We also had some friends willing to help us out with their god given beauty. Finally, we convinced a few crew members to “jump over their shadow”, as we say in German. In the end it was a great experience because after a short while it felt quite natural to shoot on a completely nude set.

A wee birdie told us that some of the bare bottoms were actually those of the directors? True or False?

Well… we thought it was our duty after asking other people to expose their bottoms for not much time nor money to strip too. We call this “naked solidarity”. If you think you found the shot, pause, take a screenshot, name our butts and send it back to us. The first one who does will receive a special edition DVD for free!
(1.4: our guess is at 00.42 seconds. Do we win?).

Were you given a brief to work to and how did the initial idea come about?

There was no brief to work with. We were completely free to make our own creative decisions. Our goal was to create a story where the boundaries between advertising and entertainment are blurred as much as possible in order to produce branded entertainment that is both, fun to watch and also contains “painless” advertising. Consequently, we did a lot of brainstorming.

After some time, Matthias had this picture in his head where a naked crowd is chasing one guy wearing pants and we all went: “Yes! That’s it!”. Gabriel went to a Catholic highschool so he pitched in the perfect antagonist to the story: a priest.

Furthermore, a few years ago Bernd was harassed by an old naked lady on a nudist campground in Croatia for wearing pants. A great opportunity to come to terms with this experience. It seemed like the perfect project for all of us.

How did the story evolve – did you storyboard the plot, the framing, the sequence in detail? Did the final film match your original treatment?

After the initial idea the project progressively became bigger and bigger. Over three meetings we decided the general plot. Gabriel wrote a first draft of the story and we finalized the script in a group discussion. In order to get the shooting done quickly and with a tiny budget, we had to plan every detail thoroughly so that no big discussions would arise on set.

Matthias storyboarded every shot, every framing and every little detail to make a quick shoot possible. In the end we had very few shots that didn’t make it into the final cut.(See part of the storyboard in Relevant Content).

What were the most challenging aspects of the production and how did you resolve them?

Besides time, money and nudes, the logistics were also quite challenging. We shot the village at two open air museums 150km apart from each other and we also had to travel to a new set everyday. For example: the inside, the outside and the view out of the window of Adam’s home was shot in three different houses not even in the same museum in order to generate the best looking shots possible.

Since we were shooting with a naked cast, the managers of the museum didn’t want us to interfere with the school classes visiting on a daily basis. Hence, we could only shoot outside in the early morning and in the late afternoon when the museum was closed. However, due to a timing mistake, we were still shooting when the first grade school class passed by our set. I think they weren’t shocked too much, but the teachers wanted to call the cops… Fortunately they didn’t see us shooting the scene in the church.

The easiest part was costume design…

What did you shoot it on and were you referencing a particular genre of film when you decided to grade it with the green neutral tones?

We shot on the RED One. Bernd and Matthias collected a lot of moods right from the beginning to find the right look and feel for the images. One example is the “Every change needs a beginning” spot by Hornbach. Although there are some similarites with William Wallace ́s fight for freedom, we didn’t want to generate a dark medieval look. The look had to cope with the ad-side of the film.

There were three of you directing the film – was it generally a harmonious process or were there a few tricky moments?

Let’s put it like this – having three directors for one film is both, a huge enrichment and at the same time the biggest downshift. Everything needs to be discussed in a group and accepted by at least two out of three. Fortunately, most of the time we made decisions that worked for all three of us. But obviously, it’s a very time consuming process and in the end it’s like a four months camping trip – you have to find the right people to do it with.

Generally the production was harmonious and – most importantly – FUN. Felix, the producer, was surely quite excited not having only one but three directors on set. His roommate told us, that he still has nightmares at least once a week, calling out our names in his sleep, but that’s probably just a rumor.

Were you all involved in the editing? And where and how was that done?

Bernd was the editor of the movie, while Matthias also spent a lot of time with him in the editing room. Gabriel kept his eyes as fresh as possible to have an unprejudiced look on different versions of the cut. He dropped by every couple of days, gave his assessment and the editing continued.

If this was your graduation film what now? Will you continue to work together?

Actually, it’s not our graduation film, but thanks for saying that. It was a fourth semester project for all three of us. We finished “Studies on Hysteria” in the end of 2012. Matthias just realeased an animated trailer for FMX 2014 and started preparing his diploma. Bernd and Gabriel just finished their third year and are currently in postproduction of their projects, so be prepared for more stuff coming soon.

Production Company: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg Directors & Script: Matthias Bäuerle, Gabriel Borgetto, Bernd Faaß Director of Photography: Bernd Faaß Producer: Felix Ruple Editor: Bernd Faaß Staging: Gabriel Borgetto Visual Effects: Matthias Bäuerle Production Design: Roman Nowak Art Director: Matthias Bäuerle Composer: Balz Aliesch Sounddesign: Jonathan Lasarzewski, Hans-Peter Schumacher Make-Up: Judith Gerdsmeier Casting: Gabriel Borgetto