Lose Your Head, and an interview with writer, producer, and co-director Patrick Schuckmann

Take Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, David Lynch's knack for colors and dissolution of the self in Mulholland Drive, swallow these things along with some nameless pills, and match them to a sweet beat in Berlin. Welcome to Lose Your Head, the story of Luis, a Spanish party tourist who meets Viktor on the scene, and falls into one rabbit hole after another...

I love Berlin. The juxtaposition of the shadows of its history against the brilliance of its arts and the neon of its nightlife make it an incredible city. It's an excellent backdrop as we get to know the painfully naive yet adventure-ready Luis, who left the warmth of Spain and the coldness of his boyfriend to have some fun in Berlin. Once the eerily friendly Viktor comes into the picture, we know this is going to be one of those "young kid gets more than he bargained for" scenarios, but there's much more than that going on. There's a sister scouring Berlin for her missing brother Dimitri, who happens to look a lot like Luis. And the fact that Viktor was among the last people to see Dimitri alive. There's a party culture founded on making dreams into reality, of evading responsibilities in favor of the freedom and danger of falling in love, and forcing the flow of love. There's the loneliness and rejection of relationships unfinished, or gone wrong, and the empty search for closure. With an ending that plays with linear storytelling and makes for excellent conversation, this is a great film -- just don't watch it before you go clubbing. 

It was a blast to chat with the film's writer, producer and co-director Patrick Schuckmann about the evolution of the story.

CR: Where did the idea for the film come from?

PS: I worked on the project on my own for about three and a half years before director Stefan Westerwelle came on to realize it together with me. I was inspired to write the script when I came out of my house in Kreuzberg one day, and saw two people putting up missing posters of a young Portuguese guy. On the poster there was a young, handsome guy looking very happy, and his relatives or friends were putting up the posters. The case was featured very much in the media, as he had disappeared after a night at Berghain. His body was found in the river Spree. What had actually happened was that he tried to walk across the river when it was frozen on a January night. He fell through the ice and they found his body four months later in April in the river. It was a sad end to that story, but that was just the inspiration. While he was still missing, a lot of my friends and people on the club scene were talking about it. They all had theories about what had happened to him. There were all these speculations and rumors. I wanted to write about these fantasies  how somebody could go missing in this internationalized Berlin party scene and not return. The party scene has gotten so much bigger over the last ten years, and maybe more confusing to people. I didn't really research the case as I didn't want the story to be too closely modeled on a real person. I didn't even know if he was gay or not, I just wanted to make up my own fiction about what happened.

CR: What kind of reactions have you gotten from people who've seen Lose Your Head so far?

PS: Audience reactions have been very positive so far. Some of the reviewers couldn't deal with the fact that the ending is not very clear, or they thought the ending was confusing. But that was the point: to achieve a strong identification with Luis' character, and make the audience as confused as him about what is real and not real. He gets caught up with his own fantasy story to explain Dimitri's disappearance. And the audience gets lost in all these different stories, we don't know if it's a drug trip or a dream. All these boundaries get blurred. It's a dream in a dream, I guess.

CR: Since this story is so very much in the vein of Vertigo and Mulholland Drive, where do you think your  personal touch lies in the script?

PS: I wanted a completely realistic setting, something like a documentary approach. Someone coming to Berlin and experiencing everything that I like about my city where I've lived for 25 years. It is seen through the eyes of a tourist who comes here for the first time. That part was very personal for me, deciding what places should be featured in the film and how to make it all feel real. From there, I wanted it to develop more and more into a fantasy, but start in a super-realistic setting that would then have a thriller element slowly creep in. The thrillers that I like are the ones where you don't know if something is actually happening or if it's all going on in someone's head. It's also a very personal film in a different way, about the end of a relationship, the possibility of starting a new one. The insecurity about what happens when you fall in love at first sight with a complete stranger. It's happened to me, triggered by this club experience of maybe taking ecstasy, and then meeting somebody, and then you think -- oh wow, this is a perfect being, and you feel in love with this person that you don't know. And then, later, all these doubts and insecurities come up. It is similar to taking a drug like ecstasy, that can create a very positive experience but you also don't completely know what you're getting yourself into. It is about the ambiguity of falling in love with someone you hardly know, who you can project everything into, and about the fear of being left behind or of being tortured by the person who you've given all this power because you're in love with them.

CR: Why do drugs play such a strong role in the film?

PS: Ecstasy was very much the drug of the 90s, and everyone in the clubs was on the same drug. Now on the club scene in Berlin they take as many drugs as in the 90s, even more, but they're not aware of what they're taking, and they mix everything, and don't know the full effect of what they're taking. There was way more education about drugs in the 90s than there is now -- people just think, if you take drugs, it's a bad thing, if you don't, it's a good thing. So if you do -- better not talk about it. Lose your Head wasn't meant to be a drug education film but I'm a bit surprised that reviewers didn't write more about the drug aspect. It would be nice if that triggered more discussions.

CR: How did you find Fernando Tielve [who plays Luis] and Marko Mandić [who plays Viktor]?

PS: I first saw Fernando in this wonderful film Unmade Beds. It is almost like a prequel to Lose Your Head, I actually saw it after I'd already written the outline for the movie. Fernando plays a young Spanish guy who comes to London to find his father. He gets lost on the London music scene and he meets a DJ and goes to concerts and stuff like that. He always wakes up in a different bed. I really liked Fernando in the film and he was first choice to play Luis. He really touches me as an actor and I could really relate to him. I wrote him a letter and asked if he was interested in the script, and he wrote back saying it was the perfect story for him, and he loved the script. 

We sent Marko the script in Slovenia. I'd first seen him on a German TV series where he plays a Russian mafia guy with a lot of tattoos, very tough, very brutal. He is so convincing that we were a little bit afraid to offer him a gay role, but we found out that in reality he's a super nice, super sweet guy. He had played transvestites and basically everything. He's just a very good actor.

CR: Viktor's character is so creepy but so sad. He seems desperate for some kind of a connection, but if he loves something it's like he'll just kill it instead. What does he represent for you?

PS: He was definitely the most "made up" character. At first I was worried that he wouldn't seem real enough. He's the only character not based on personal observations -- he's more like a fantasy of someone you hope to meet after coming out of a boring gay marriage, and you want some excitement or passion in your life. And danger also, of course. What I like a lot about Marko is that he brought a lot of humor to the role. Maybe not everyone agrees but I think his Viktor is also very funny, ironic and playful. I didn't want him to be another brooding, mysterious guy.

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My thanks again to Patrick! 

Check out the website for more info on Lose Your Head, featuring interviews with the cast and more. Follow all the action around the film via the Facebook page.

And if you can make it to any of the following screenings, do it!

25 May, 19:00

4 June, 20:30
12 June, 20:30

13 June, 22:00

And in Germany:

10 May, 19:30 

16 May, 19:00 
19 May, 21:00


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