This time at KULBRITANIA we had the chance to do an exclusive interview with musician, screenwriter, producer and director Nina Gerstenberger who talked to us about her new project Midnight Of My Life; a short film on Small Faces lead singer Steve Marriott. Nina tells us about being a screenwriter, working with director Phil Davis and announcing that Martin freeman is officially on board to play Steve Marriott.
KUL BRITANIA: Hi Nina why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself? Hometown?
Nina: Hi guys, I'm from a small town called Kirchheim near Stuttgart in South-West Germany. I've lived in the UK for 12 years and am now settled in Manchester. I'm a filmmaker and scriptwriter. I'm also a musician (guitar, singing) and songwriter.
KB: Let's go back to your early days Nina: big fan of music? Any favourite British acts when you were growing up?
N: Oh yes! How much space do you have on your website? I could type for hours now telling you about my favourite bands so I'm just going to mention the ones that are most important to me: OASIS, The Stone Roses, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Talk Talk, The Who, Kate Bush, Patti Smith, Happy Mondays, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and of course Small Faces!
I was lucky enough to grow up in the 90's during the so called 'Britpop' era so I was massively influenced by bands from that time: Ocean Colour Scene, the Bluetones, Primal Scream, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals, The Verve ….. Because OASIS are my favourite band I started to look into who influenced them and so found out about the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order, Joy Devision – all the Manchester Greats and also about Acid House which I adore as well.
Oh, and I'm a big fan of folk music, Soul and Northern Soul :)
KB: I have to admit I've been reading your blog and I'm so pleased to know you love The Roses. So first of all, can you tell me what it was like to know they were reforming and what it was like to see their reunion gig at Heaton park?
N: Oh wow! Thanks for reading my blog! I'm glad someone took the time to read it and that you've enjoyed it :). Well, I remember my friend Christian texting me about rumours the Roses would be getting back together and I didn't believe it quite yet – you know, there's been so many rumours over the years I just couldn't believe that this time it would really happen. When it was officially announced I immediately thought to myself – I am never, ever going to be able to get tickets for this! It'll be sold out in ONE SECOND! So me and a few of my friends came up with a master-plan how to get tickets – we all phoned the ticket line 9am in the morning the day they went on sale to try and order 4 tickets each. In the end we ended up with 8 tickets for the 4 of us so we did pretty well! It was shortly before my 30th birthday and I cried when I managed to get tickets. I couldn't have asked for a better present!
It was the best gig of my life and I know I will never attend a better concert again. If people want to know more about the gig in detail I suggest they have a look at my blog :)
KB: Let me ask you a few questions now about being a screenwriter.
KB: First, what do you take into account when writing a script ?
N: First of all you should be writing about something you are so passionate about that you are willing to spend years of your life committed to that one subject. So I've chosen subjects for my scripts I'm so obsessed with that I can easily do that – Music and football :)
Second, do you think you will continue to write in this genre (music-mod related stuff) or do you have any other ideas you are considering at the moment?
N: The reasoning behind making a short film about Steve Marriott is that we (producer Hatty Hodgson and myself) thought that it is realistic and feasible to do a short (as it's much cheaper than doing a feature film) and also because we're hoping it will establish us as a Writer-Producer team in the industry and open up doors for our feature film projects. I've written a feature film script about Non-League football and a very early draft of a treatment for a Steve Marriott biopic so hopefully we'll be able to focus on those projects next. Also, my dream is to write a Western one day so I've started to work on ideas for that but that's something for the future.
KB: Third, is being a screenwriter the job you've always wanted to do? Your dream job in a way?
N: It is my dream job and my passion. I hope that I'll be able to continue doing it and that one day I'll be able to live from it and pack in the day job :)
Fourth, is there a thing about the industry today that you wish it was different that you wish you could change and what would that be?
N: That's a great question as it kind of ties in with what I touched on before. As a scriptwriter it's incredibly difficult to break into the industry and get yourself recognised. If no one knows your name, no one is interested in working with you. Producers and Production companies won't even look at your work and often you need an agent just to be able to submit your scripts to them. But agents don't take on new writers so it's a vicious circle. I was incredibly lucky to have met Hatty at a networking event at the London Film School (we're both LFS graduates). She was the first producer who believed in me and my work to the extend that she was willing to work with me and make my screenplays into films. I'm very lucky to be working with Hatty, she's an incredible producer and got a fantastic understanding of the writing process and how screenplays work.
To come back to your question – I wish the film schools would help their students to find work in the film industry after they've graduated as most people end up doing something completely different to what they've studied. And I also wish the film industry would be more open and welcoming towards young filmmakers.
KB: Going back to this new short film "Midnight of My Life", how did you get to know Phil Davis and how did you put the script out there?
N: Phil is a Honorary Associate at the London Film School and Hatty met him there at a networking event a few years ago. We already had the short film script at that point and were looking for a director who would be as passionate about the subject as we are. So we both thought it would be a great idea to give it to Phil. Thankfully he liked it and agreed to get back into directing (he has done two feature film a few years ago but hasn't directed for a while and didn't plan to until we gave him the script.) I'm a massive fan of his acting work as well so we're incredible grateful to be working with such an experienced and amazing artist.
KB: It was just announced that Martin Freeman will play the role of Steve Marriott. We did an interview with Paolo Hewitt some time ago and he told us that when Martin heard about the Svengali movie he wanted to be part of it. Did the same thing happen this time? Did he just want to be part of it? (We know he loves all mod things)
N: No, it worked a bit different for us. From the very start of the writing process I saw Martin being the perfect choice to play Steve as he is a mod himself and because he is a master of keeping the fine balance between comedy and drama – which is essential for portraying Steve. Hatty agreed but at that stage it was just a dream. But when Phil came on board it became a real possibility as he knows Martin from past projects and he talked to him about it. We submitted the script to Martin's agent and thankfully he liked it, too. And thankfully we were able to find a brief time window where he is available as he is a very busy man.
KB: Guess that for a proper mod like him playing the role of Steve Marriott must be very special as well, what do you think Nina?
N: I should think so. It must be an attractive prospect for Martin to be playing the greatest mod icon of them all – but at a time he wasn't much of a mod anymore (we call it Steve's dungaree phase :) )
KB: Regarding the soundtrack, I hear Andy Bell is also collaborating with the soundtrack, can you tell us a bit about that?
N: Yes, we're buzzing to have Andy on board as well. I love all the bands he's been in so obviously I'm chuffed to bits that he is part of our team. Andy wants to get into film music composing and being a massive Marriott fan he jumped at the idea of getting involved with Midnight.
KB: What is the plot of this short film?
N: It's about a fictional encounter sometime in the mid 1980's between Steve and a young fan on the night of the Live Aid concert. I don't want to give away too much about the plot but it focuses on the later stage of Steve's incredible life and about why his career developed the way it did, the choices he made and how they made him feel.
KB: When and where will shooting begin? Are you looking forward to it?
N: We'll be shooting towards the end of April in London. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I'm absolutely buzzing and can't wait!
KB: Apart from "Midnight of my Life", do you have any projects at the moment that you'd like to tell our followers about?
N: I've mentioned the other screenplay projects above but obviously can't say more about them at this stage because it's early days. But I sometimes do little projects, like live music videos, for my own production company so if anyone is interested in them please have a look at my website www.liveforeverproductions.co.uk
KB: Finally, Nina we have to ask you this but your production company is called liveforeverproductions, can we assume that you are totally "mad fer it" then?
N: Why do you think I moved to Manchester? Haha. Yep, Live Forever is my favourite song.
KB: Thank you so much for taking the time Nina! and we look forward to seeing the film!
N: Thank you so much for the interview and your fantastic support for our film! We appreciate it a lot. Thanks, guys, and all the best! Gracias :)
For further information on the short film and updates, please visit https://www.facebook.com/midnightofmylife
Watch the video below feat Phil Davies and Nina Gerstenberger
Words: Daniel Rodriguez (KULBRITANIA)