Q: Give a background of your personal experience with the story, writing, production and marketing
Juliane Block: I’ve been in the movie industry for nearly 20 years now. It all started when I came across a fellow student during my time in university who did a Zombie flick. I was doing special FX make-up at the time and got hooked with filmmaking. In the early days I ventured from make-up into story writing and producing, a bit of production design, until I ultimately ended up directing my first short film in 2007. I loved it and decided that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I’ve done more than
10 short films, and have worked in almost every aspect of filmmaking in my
shorts. From cinematography and production management, over editing and post
production, colour grading or title design. I produced and marketed all of
Now, having released
3 feature films, the forth waiting to be released early 2019 and having two
additional features in pre-production, I know that directing is what I’m best
at. I do, however, like to be involved into production and writing as well.
Q: Did you start writing with a cast (You or any) in mind?
Juliane Block: For 8 Remains, Laura Sommer and I discussed cast prior to her diving into the script. She had very specific ideas, and was in touch with Maja-Celiné Probst for quite some while then. So, yes, we had the cast already in mind when writing the script.
Q: How long did you take to complete the script?
Juliane Block: The script took about 6 weeks I reckon. Laura is super quick. We developed the treatment based on a short story of hers together. 2When I realised how fast she was, and that is without sacrificing quality, I started to translate the script into English while she was still working on the German version. In the translation I fine-tuned it, and then gave it to co-writer Wolf-Peter Arand who polished the translated version.
Q: When did you form your production company – and what was the original motivation for its formation?
A: Most of my
features have their own dedicated production company. However, I run everything
under the J Blockbuster label (which is now a UK Ltd.) The company itself has
been a German company for a while, but recently, it made sense to relocate the
headquarters to Britain, as most of the funds for my films are actually coming
from the island.
I founded J
Blockbuster when I shot my first short film in 2007. The motivation was to have
an umbrella for all my productions.
Q: What was the first project out of the gate?
Juliane Block: My first short film, produced under J Blockbuster, is called Unsecured Loan. I’ve shot it in Malaysia, where I lived at that time and it deals with Asian loansharking.
Q: During production, what scene?
Juliane Block: The hardest scene to shoot in 8 Remains was the scene where Talli meets her younger self. Solely because it’s very long, it was very cold, and Maja just had this tiny dress. She was freezing and we had weather issues (rain, no rain, trouble with continuity.) But we managed!
Q: What works better in this latest production that mightn’t have worked so well in the last one you did?
Juliane Block: That’s a tough one. My last feature film was Kinks, which I shot in 2011 in Malaysia. I have done shorts and collaborative projects in between, but no features. So, overall I’d say, there were a lot of differences in the shoots, starting with the fact that one project originated from Malaysia, and the other one from Germany. Every project is different… so really, hard to say. What is working better now is the marketing actually.
Q: You produced and directed the film, what measure of input did it take to don these hats?
Juliane Block: The hardest thing for me is to navigate in between organisation and creative decisions.
Q: Is there anything about the independent filmmaking business you still struggle with?
Juliane Block: Money and marketing. I believe that will never stop, hah!
Q: Where do you think your strengths line as a filmmaker?
Juliane Block: I believe it’s hard to make me lose my temper, which comes in handy when dealing with egos.
Q: Let’s talk finance, How did you finance the film?
Juliane Block: 8 Remains was financed with about a quarter of the budget in cash investments from various private investors and the rest came in from cast and crew as deferred payments.
Q: How much did you go over budget? How did you manage it?
Juliane Block: I’d say we went over about 25%, mainly because I refused to sacrifice quality in post. The good news is, that in post you have time to look for further funding options and luckily we found them. An exec producer I’m working with agreed to raise a bit more for the post, and a lot of those 25% were again coming in as deferred payments.
Q: How important is marketing? Do you think a project can make any dent without it these days?
Juliane Block: Marketing is as important as making the film itself (and in my point of view even harder than finishing off the picture.) It’s mandatory. There’s a flood of films out there – how do people know that they should watch yours?
Q: Can you tell us about your marketing activities on the project – and how it’s gone for you?
Juliane Block: I’m right now reaching out to a lot of reviewers and bloggers, trying to narrow down my search by looking into people who liked similar films. So far, the response rate lies by about 40 to 50%, which I believe is quite good. And we have gotten some first fantastic reviews. Fingers crossed, that’ll continue!
Q: What do you hope audiences get from your film?
Juliane Block: 8 Remains is not for everyone. My experience so far has been, that people either hate it, or they love it. I believe it’s better to polarise then have a film to which people are indifferent.
If you are belonging
to the group of people who love 8 Remains, you’ll be taken on a very visual
journey, which might challenge you to connect the dots. If you do, it’s an
empowering female tale.
Juliane Block: What else have you got in the works? A: My psychological thriller 3 Lives is done and ready for release in early 2019. I’ll be shooting a horror feature in February / March 2019 and am hopefully shooting again end of this year, Lyra’s Wish, a family Christmas adventure.
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