What was behind your decision to create this film series, Thoughts of People You May Know? And what did you want to essentially convey?
I’m carrying the texts for this series with me for quite a while now. At first I didn’t really know what to do with them so I created these super loose scripts and showed them to Yannick Fauth, MD of Le Berg. He loved the simplicity, so we just went for it. The whole concept was driven by the idea – how to create narrative films in their simplest form? In a way I tried to find the limits of a narrative short format.
Each film is a crafted 60-second portrayal of various characters but overall there is a cohesion to the 12 episodes. Was it difficult deciding on the format ?
I take that as a compliment – thank you 🙂 I guess we were able to keep it cohesive as we kept the limitations high. Intimate VO, street cast, shot on film, sub 1 minute. Sounds restricting, but once we had the framework base there was actually pure liberty.
You wrote and directed each film. Talk us through the process of writing the scripts, especially as the characters are so varied and from different cultures, although they are all of a similar age. Did you interview people first?
I think all the texts go back on a person I met, a sentence I read or heard, or an observation or a feeling that occurred before.
Whether a fleeting encounter of strangers on the street that looked interesting, or an odd behaviour that I randomly observed and jotted down. Rodney for example goes back on a bloke that lived on my street when I was a child. He always chewed on coins, because he liked the taste, he said. Isn’t that fantastic?
The visuals convey so much more than the voiceover of thoughts. Did you storyboard in detail?
We only worked with a loose shot list. As we shot most episodes with a non-actor cast I wanted it to really keep it simple and open for collaboration. It’s scary sometimes – but once you’re in there together it’s an intimate and liberating process.
How did you cast the characters to fit your scripts? And what was your rehearsal process?
We worked with casting directors Ilaaf Khalfalla and Lea Gugler of 1st Encounters here in Germany, and Arielle Berman in NYC. I adore the way they work and the talents they find.
We didn’t really rehearse before shooting. That was another limitation. Everyone was briefed beforehand but specifics and nuances were really created as we went for it. Saying that feels a bit crazy I realize now!
You worked with DP Tobias Blickle on the series. Tell us how that collaboration worked and what was behind the decision to shoot on 16mm?
Our initial impulse always tends to shoot on film. With this kind of budget shooting digitally would’ve probably been the wiser choice, but we wanted to work with the restriction of a limited amount of takes. I love the feeling, it intensifies the experience. Plus: We shot the US episodes on an Aaton Minima, a very compact film camera that still kept us flexible and agile.
Any major challenges editing the films?
No client, no restriction, no real deadline – what a rare privilege to have, right? Editor Matthias Graatz is the best when it comes to free approaches. I love how he created the nuanced ambiguity of some of the films – and amplified others. Amazing stuff really.
Ben Miethke is represented by:
Le Berg, Germany
Thoughts of People You May Know
|Roselin / Ava Ferguson, Camillle Elliot, Keegan Brady
|Breather / Atticus Jones
|What If / Iliana Penichet-Ramirez, Sam Coppel
|Drifter / Cece Amaris
|Yolked / Chad Britton, Jacky Francois
|Fav Bands Rn / Aselia Toktorova
|The Octopod / Victoria Jelert, Khalil Jabbar
|Peacock Papillon / Paula Breuer, Salemata Pomplun, Konstantin Wloch, Pearl Graw, Vishana, Leo De St. Sève, Sami Elshariff
|My Friend Rodney / Justus Johanssen
|Ical / Camillle Elliot
|Wad Of Mush / Soke Haisan Kaleak
|Executive Producer / Yannick Fauth & Gabriel Waldvogel
|Producer Berlin / Ludwig Meck
|Producer Nyc / Gabriel Waldvogel
|Production Assistant Berlin / Markus Krojer
|Post Producer / Timo Grossmann
|Service Production Nyc / Special Operations Studios
|Director Of Photography / Tobias Blickle
|1st Ac Berlin / Ciro Kavouras
|1st Ac Nyc / Lukas Grube
|Gaffer Berlin / Joran Ost
|Editor / Matthias Graatz - Studio S Ec
|Music & Sound Design Berlin / Moritz Staub
|Music & Sound Design Nyc / Mike Regan
|Vo Recording / Paul Glodek
|Art Direction And Design / Johannes Geier
|Casting Berlin / Ilaaf Khalfalla & Lea Gugler - 1st Encounters
|Casting Nyc / Arielle Berman
|Styling Berlin / Ina Witzel
|Mu&H Berlin / Victoria Reuter
|Mu&H Nyc / Mia Varrone
|Colorist Connor Coolbear / Electric Colour
|Color Executive Producer / Oliver Whitworth
|Color Producer / Olivia Jessop
|Color Assist / Janak Griffin-Rai
|Special Thanks / Studio Cnp
|Special Thanks / Vitali Gelwich
|Special Thanks / Studio L’equipe
|Special Thanks / Kodak Film Lab Ny
|Special Thanks / Kodak Film Lab London
|Roselin / Taul Katz
|Breather / Itzcoatl Savchuk
|Yolked / Josh Smith
|Bill Moro / Lukas Grube
|Fav Bands Rn / Isabelle Mclandress
|The Octopod / Khalil Jabbar
|What If / Iliana Penichet-Ramirez
|Peacock Papillon / Sara Mikorey
|Rodney / Linus Gross
|Wad Of Mush / Soke Haisan Kaleak
|Drifter / Stella Burke
|Ical / Camille Elliot
|Written And Directed By Ben Miethke
|Produced By Le Berg