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THE BIG INTERVIEW: FTN speaks to Christoph Kuschnig, director of Hatch

January 8th, 2014 by Big Phil Comments

Christoph received his MFA with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate Film School, where his short film Hatch was selected for Faculty Selects and has since gone to screen at festivals in Europe and the US. It was awarded a NBR Student Grant and nominated for a Student Academy Award in 2012.

Christoph is a Fulbright Scholar and a HFPA Grant recipient. His previous shorts Eiko and Junkyard Jesús have also screened at film festivals around the world and have won numerous awards. He was selected to be part of the 2012 Berlinale Talent Campus among 4300 applicants.

While his films explore the dark side of the human psyche, combining a uniquely sensitive and highly visual approach, Christoph’s commercial work is frequently marked by a light touch and often comedic sensibility.

FTN: Hatch is a very emotional and dramatic short film. Were did you get your inspiration to make this short?

CK: We were inspired by the actual baby hatch “Babynest” in Vienna. We were wondering who and why someone would drop a baby, under what circumstances? So we created the characters around it. I was curious about juxtaposing opposite ends of society and that’s how the second couple made it into the story.

FTN:  The situations and dilemas in this short are very true to life. Did you encounter anY young people who had similar experiences to the couples in this short?

CK: I have met and talked to people who encountered difficulties related to the story but I haven’t met anybody – at least on the immigrant couple’s side – who’s experiences where that difficult and dramatic. But I know they are out there – we read about them in the news, maybe even see them on the street – without knowing. I intend to show the margins of our society in this film. They are people like you and me – and they love and want to be loved like all of us.

FTN: How did you assemble the cast; did you have a certain type of actor in mind when you were writing this piece?

CK: Vedran Kos who, we see in the role of Milo, was supposed to be my translator on set since I don’t speak any Serbian. We met before I had cast any of the characters and my first response to Vedran was “Have you ever considered acting?” – I thought he was prefect for the part of Milo. Of course he didn’t at the time and was in preproduction of another film as an assistant director and could not take on the commitment of acting in my film.

I went through a casting process and cast another Milo – but in the back of my had I always had Vedran in mind. Less than a week before we started shooting, the other actor couldn’t do the part for personal reasons and I begged Vedran to consider it. Luckily his film got postponed and we had an emergency rehearsal with Tina, who played Milo’s girlfriend Biljana in the film. Their dynamics were great and Vedran – a screenwriter himself – had such a natural understanding of the part and acting, it worked out beautifully.

I had worked with Andreas Patton before and knew he would be great in this. I offered the part of Thomas to Max Mayer and luckily he – I guess – liked the script and accepted.

I intend to show the margins of our society in this film. They are people like you and me – and they love and want to be loved like all of us.

FTN: Short films are becoming more and more popular thanks to film festivals. Do you think that audiences are now seeking short films due to their condensed structure as opposed to big budget studio blockbusters and CGI spectaculars?

CK: People’s attention spams are getting shorter and shorter and we have a lot more to take in than, let’s say, ten years ago. News, YouTube, Facebook, etc… A feature is most likely a two hour commitment – a short max half an hour. For up-and-coming young film makers, shorts are a great medium to experiment and show their talent, but unfortunately a lot of shorts remain unseen by a wider audience.

FTN: Were you surprised by the critical acclaim and awards that Hatch has already achieved?

CK: I knew I was telling a story that matters, I had a script I was happy about when I started shooting and a wonderful cast – but in the end you never know how the audience will respond to your work… Yes, I was surprised and very humbled by the acclaim.

For up-and-coming young film makers, shorts are a great medium to experiment and show their talent, but unfortunately a lot of shorts remain unseen by a wider audience.

FTN: What are your plans for the future and are you currently working any other projects?

CK: I am hoping to shoot my first feature pretty soon. I am in the process of developing a couple of feature screenplays and re-writing the feature version of Hatch…

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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!

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