top of page

Zu den Sternen: An Interview with

1.    Please tell us a little bit about your background. How did you become interested in cinema and how did you learn filmmaking?

As Nicolai Tegeler, my journey into the world of cinema and filmmaking has been deeply influenced by my family's artistic legacy and a lifelong fascination with the art of directing and filmmaking. Born and raised in the culturally vibrant city of Berlin, I was surrounded by an environment that nurtured my creative passions from a very young age.


My mother, Melitta Tegeler, an actress, and her father, Ludwig F. Kerscher, also in the acting profession, were significant influences in my early life. Their dedication to the craft of acting instilled in me a profound appreciation for storytelling and performance. This familial connection to the arts was the bedrock upon which my own journey in cinema was built.


From the outset, I was captivated by the art of directing and the process of filmmaking. The idea of bringing a vision to life on screen, of weaving a narrative through the lens of a camera, has always been a source of fascination for me. My transition from acting to filmmaking was driven by this passion. I wanted to be at the helm of a project, guiding it from concept to completion.


One of the aspects I love most about filmmaking is the collaborative nature of the process. Working in a team, bringing together diverse talents and perspectives, is an exhilarating experience. There is a unique joy in uniting with others to realize a shared vision, each person contributing their expertise to create something truly remarkable. This collaborative spirit is at the heart of every project I undertake.


My educational journey in filmmaking was a blend of formal study and practical experience. I immersed myself in various aspects of film production, learning from seasoned professionals and academic courses alike. This comprehensive approach helped me hone my skills in directing, producing, and scriptwriting, giving me a well-rounded understanding of the filmmaking process.


Beyond the technical aspects, my approach to filmmaking is deeply rooted in the art of visual storytelling. I believe that a filmmaker is not just a technician but an artist who can evoke emotions and provoke thoughts through their work.


Moreover, my passion for cinema is intertwined with my love for travel and exploration. Encountering diverse cultures and meeting people from different backgrounds has enriched my perspective and inspired many of my creative endeavors. Each film project is a new adventure, an opportunity to tell a story that resonates with audiences worldwide.


In summary, my background in cinema is a rich tapestry woven from my family's legacy in acting, a lifelong interest in directing and filmmaking, and a love for collaborative creativity. It's a journey that continues to evolve, driven by a passion for storytelling and a desire to create films that captivate and inspire.


2.    How was the initial idea of ​​this film formed? Did you put forward the idea to screenwriter Dirk Josczok or did he come to you with the screenplay? Basically, how much do you believe in developing the script in filmmaking?


I've had the privilege of engaging with a variety of talented individuals in the film industry, each bringing their unique perspectives and creativity to the projects we undertake. One such experience involved the esteemed author Dirk Josczok. While Dirk and I are not currently collaborating, the door to future projects together remains open. The dynamic nature of the creative industry means that opportunities for collaboration can arise anew, and I look forward to the possibility of working with Dirk again.


My introduction to Dirk's work came through one of my main actors, Günter Barton. Günter approached me with a script that immediately captured my interest, and it was through this script that I first became acquainted with Dirk's exceptional writing. This experience highlighted the interconnectedness of the film industry and the serendipitous encounters that can lead to fruitful collaborations.


I firmly believe that a script is a living document, continually evolving right up until the moment of filming. This fluidity allows for experimentation and adaptation, ensuring that the final product is as impactful and resonant as possible. To me, scripts are more than just words on a page; they are the blueprint for a story waiting to be brought to life.


In my work, I emphasize the importance of collaboration with actors in realizing the vision of a script. While the script provides the foundation and direction, it's the actors who breathe life into the story. Their interpretations and performances transform written words into a tangible, emotive experience for the audience. Therefore, I encourage my actors to explore and, when necessary, deviate from the script as long as the essence and message of the story are maintained. This approach allows for a more organic and authentic portrayal of characters and narratives.


In conclusion, my experiences in the film industry, particularly with talented individuals like Dirk Josczok and Günter Barton, have reinforced my belief in the collaborative and ever-evolving nature of filmmaking. From script to screen, it's a journey of constant development, where the collective efforts of writers, directors, and actors converge to create something truly extraordinary.


3.    Please tell us how you cast your actors Florian Martens and Günter Barton? How long did it take for them to settle into their roles?

As Nicolai Tegeler, casting the right actors for my projects is a process I approach with great care and consideration. For the roles in question, I had the pleasure of working with two exceptionally talented actors, Florian Martens and Günter Barton.


My relationship with Günter Barton predated this project. We were already friends, and I had immense respect for his work as an actor. It was clear from the beginning that Günter would play one of the main roles. His understanding of the character and his ability to bring depth to the role were unparalleled. Günter had the advantage of being familiar with the script longer than anyone else, which allowed him to deeply immerse himself in his character.


Finding the right counterpart for Günter was crucial, and for me, there was only one choice: Florian Martens. I reached out to Florian, and we met over a beer to discuss the project. From that initial meeting, we maintained regular contact leading up to the actual shoot. Florian's schedule was quite busy as he was involved in other productions simultaneously. Despite having less preparation time compared to Günter, Florian's professionalism shone through. He arrived on the first day of the shoot completely prepared, demonstrating his commitment and skill as an actor.


The dynamic between Günter and Florian on set was remarkable. They complemented each other exceptionally well, each bringing their unique strengths to their roles. This synergy was evident in their performances, creating a compelling and authentic on-screen relationship.


In terms of settling into their roles, both actors approached their characters with a deep sense of professionalism and dedication. Günter's longer preparation time allowed him to explore various facets of his character in depth. Florian, despite his shorter preparation period, adapted swiftly and effectively, showcasing his experience and versatility as an actor.


In conclusion, the casting of Florian Martens and Günter Barton was a decision that greatly contributed to the success of the project. Their individual talents, combined with their ability to work together seamlessly, brought the characters to life in a way that exceeded my expectations.

4.    How do you see German cinema today? Do you think thesre is a place for independent filmmakers?

My perspective on German cinema today is one of cautious optimism, especially regarding the opportunities for independent filmmakers. There's no doubt that filmmaking has become more accessible in many ways compared to the past, largely thanks to advancements in technology and the proliferation of distribution channels such as streaming services, online media libraries, and more.


The landscape of German cinema has evolved significantly, opening doors for creative minds who might not have had the opportunity to showcase their work in earlier times. The advent of digital technology has democratized the filmmaking process, allowing independent filmmakers to produce quality content with more affordable equipment and resources. Additionally, the rise of various streaming platforms and online media libraries has provided new avenues for indie films to reach a wider audience, breaking the traditional barriers of film distribution.


That being said, while there is a burgeoning market for indie filmmakers in Germany, there's still considerable room for growth. One of my hopes for the future of German cinema is to see an expansion in support and funding opportunities for independent filmmakers. More accessible funding and increased visibility in mainstream media channels, including both public media libraries and private streaming services, would greatly benefit the indie film community.


Independent cinema plays a crucial role in the cultural and artistic landscape, often bringing fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling that might not find a place in mainstream cinema. Therefore, fostering an environment where indie filmmakers can thrive is essential for the diversity and richness of German cinema.


In summary, while there are challenges, I believe the current climate in German cinema holds promising potential for independent filmmakers. With continued technological advancements, expanding distribution channels, and hopefully increased support and funding, the indie film scene in Germany can continue to grow and make significant contributions to the world of cinema.



5.    A large part of your film takes place at night and in the dark. Please tell us about the hardships of working at night and your experiences.

Working on a film that primarily takes place at night and in the dark presented a unique set of challenges and experiences. The decision to shoot at night was born out of necessity; our original filming location became unavailable just a week before shooting was scheduled to begin, and the new location was only accessible to us during nighttime hours. This situation reinforced my belief in the adage, "there's no such thing as can't – it's just a matter of finding another way." The focus is always on achieving the desired outcome, no matter the obstacles.

Night shoots were essential for the completion of our film, not only due to the logistical constraints but also because they allowed us to maintain a specific visual aesthetic that was crucial to the story. Additionally, filming at night meant that everyone involved could attend to their day jobs, which was an important consideration for our team.

However, working at night is undoubtedly demanding. The disruption to normal sleep patterns and the need to remain alert and creative during the hours when the body naturally wants to rest can be quite challenging. It requires a great deal of stamina and resilience from the entire cast and crew. Personally, I found that maintaining good physical condition, ensuring adequate sleep, and incorporating sufficient rest periods were crucial for coping with the intensity of night shoots.

This experience was a testament to the dedication and commitment of our team. Everyone involved showed incredible adaptability and perseverance, qualities that are essential in the filmmaking industry. While night shoots are strenuous, they also create a unique camaraderie and a sense of shared purpose that can be incredibly rewarding.

In conclusion, filming at night, while challenging, was a necessary and ultimately fruitful part of our filmmaking process. It pushed us to find creative solutions and adapt to unusual circumstances, resulting in a film that we are all proud of. The experience was a reminder that in filmmaking, as in life, flexibility and a positive attitude can turn challenges into opportunities.


6.    Your work is impressive in terms of cinematography. Please explain more about the strategies you had for it.

Thank you for the compliment on the cinematography in our latest project. It's an aspect of filmmaking that I hold in high regard, and I'm glad it resonated with you.

The credit for the visual excellence of our film largely goes to my cinematographer, Benjamin Thiemert. From the outset, Benjamin proposed that we aim for the highest quality possible in our cinematography. This was a challenging ambition, especially considering our limited budget. However, we were committed to achieving this goal and began by discussing various visual styles and looks that would suit our narrative.

We also brought on board an incredibly talented lighting technician, which significantly enhanced our ability to create the desired visual mood and atmosphere. The key to elevating our cinematography, despite budget constraints, was our decision to shoot with an Alexa camera using anamorphic lenses. This choice was instrumental in achieving the cinematic quality we were aiming for.

We were fortunate to secure a fantastic deal with Vantage Camera Rentals, which allowed us access to this high-end equipment. This partnership was a game-changer for us, enabling us to capture the visual essence of the film as we had envisioned it.

In conclusion, the success of our cinematography was a result of careful planning, a clear vision, and collaboration with skilled professionals who shared our commitment to quality. We're thrilled that our efforts have been well-received and I'm grateful for your appreciation of our work. Thank you again for your kind words!

7.    What filmmakers have been influential in your life in general, and what filmmakers do you consider yourself inspired by in this film in particular?

Throughout my career in filmmaking, I've been influenced and inspired by a number of exceptional directors, each bringing their unique style and vision to the world of cinema. In general, filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola, Guy Ritchie, James Cameron, and Alejandro González Iñárritu have had a profound impact on my approach to filmmaking.


Christopher Nolan's mastery of complex narratives and his ability to weave intricate plots in a visually stunning manner have always fascinated me. Quentin Tarantino's unique storytelling style, characterized by non-linear storylines and rich dialogues, has also been a significant influence. Clint Eastwood's ability to capture the human spirit in his films, along with his minimalist style, has been particularly inspiring.


Francis Ford Coppola's epic storytelling and his work on character-driven narratives in films like 'The Godfather' series have left a lasting impression on me. Guy Ritchie's dynamic and fast-paced approach to filmmaking, often with a touch of humor and wit, has influenced my own style. James Cameron's groundbreaking use of technology and his vision in creating immersive cinematic experiences have been a source of inspiration.


Alejandro González Iñárritu's innovative narrative structures and his profound exploration of the human condition in films have also shaped my perspective on storytelling.


In this particular film, the influences of these filmmakers can be seen in various aspects, from the narrative structure and character development to the visual style and thematic depth. Each of these directors has a unique way of engaging with the audience, and I strive to bring a similar level of engagement and depth to my own work.


Their collective body of work represents a blend of innovative storytelling, technical prowess, and a deep understanding of the human experience, all of which I consider essential elements in my own filmmaking journey.

But of course there are many more great directors, but that would go beyond the scope here...

8.    Do you think that today's film festivals can be an opportunity for films, especially feature films, to be seen?

I firmly believe that film festivals continue to play a crucial role in the world of cinema, especially for feature films. These festivals are not just events where films are screened; they are vibrant platforms for personal exchange, networking, and celebrating the art of filmmaking. They provide filmmakers with the opportunity to showcase their work to a diverse audience and to engage with other professionals in the industry.

One of the aspects I cherish most about film festivals is their ability to bring people together across borders. They transcend geographical and cultural boundaries, uniting audiences and filmmakers in their shared love for cinema. This aligns closely with my own view of what cinema is all about – connecting people through storytelling, evoking emotions, and sharing experiences that resonate universally.

However, it's important to acknowledge that while film festivals are fantastic for gaining exposure and recognition, they are not the only avenue for films to be seen and appreciated. In today's digital age, there are numerous platforms and channels through which films can reach their audience. Online streaming services, independent theaters, and various other media outlets also play a significant role in making films accessible to a wider audience.

In conclusion, film festivals are undoubtedly a great opportunity for feature films to be seen and celebrated. They foster a sense of community and collaboration among filmmakers and audiences alike. Yet, they are just one of the many ways through which the magic of cinema can be shared and enjoyed by people around the world.

9.    What element do you consider most effective in storytelling?

when considering the most effective element in storytelling, I place great importance on the power of curiosity. For me, curiosity is the driving force that keeps a story dynamic and engaging. It's about constantly moving forward, never standing still, and always remaining open to new ideas and perspectives.


Curiosity fuels the narrative, compelling both the storyteller and the audience to explore deeper layers of the story. It's about asking questions, seeking answers, and then asking even more questions. This relentless pursuit of understanding and meaning keeps the audience invested and engaged, making them active participants in the storytelling process rather than passive observers.


In my work, I strive to create stories that ignite the viewer's curiosity. Whether it's through complex characters, intricate plotlines, or thought-provoking themes, the goal is to craft a narrative that challenges the audience, encourages them to think, and invites them to explore the story beyond its surface.


Moreover, maintaining an open and curious mindset as a filmmaker is crucial. It allows me to approach storytelling with a sense of wonder and exploration, constantly seeking new ways to tell a story and connect with the audience. This openness to new ideas and experiences not only enriches the storytelling process but also ensures that the stories I tell are fresh, original, and resonate with a diverse audience.


In summary, curiosity is the cornerstone of effective storytelling. It drives the narrative forward, keeps the audience engaged, and ensures that the story remains dynamic and evolving. As a filmmaker, nurturing this sense of curiosity and openness is essential in creating compelling and impactful stories.


10. If possible, please tell us about your next film or projects.

I am excited to share some details about my upcoming projects, each of which presents a unique narrative and style.


One of the projects I'm currently developing is a thriller mini-series titled "Der Bibelkiller," based on the work of author Valeska Reon. This series delves into a gripping and suspenseful narrative, promising to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. It's a project that I'm particularly passionate about, as it combines intense storytelling with deep psychological elements, creating a captivating experience for viewers.


In a different genre, I am also working on a political comedy titled "Der Landrat." This project is an exploration of the political landscape through a humorous lens, offering both satire and insightful commentary on contemporary issues. It's a project that aims to entertain while also provoking thought and discussion among its audience.


Additionally, I am in the process of developing a tragically humorous Christmas story with the working title "Oh, du fröhliche." This project is particularly close to my heart, as it blends the joyous spirit of the holiday season with a touch of poignant humor. It's a story that aims to evoke a range of emotions, from laughter to reflection, making it a unique addition to the holiday film genre.


Each of these projects reflects my commitment to diverse storytelling and my passion for exploring different genres. From the thrilling suspense of "Der Bibelkiller" to the satirical humor of "Der Landrat" and the heartwarming yet humorous narrative of "Oh, du fröhliche," I am excited to bring these stories to life and share them with audiences.


bottom of page