Rafael Maria Friebe

Rafael Maria Friebe’s entry into the film industry was in the directing/assistant department at UFA, one of the leading production companies in Germany, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, producing a crime series for ZDF (German television station). He has been working as an ARRI-trained cameraman with professional camera equipment, as a freelance director of photography and editor for a wide range of clients in the feature film, music video genre and in the advertising/marketing industry at a global-player level. Rafael can draw on decades of experience and learned to what extent the director and the director of photography work closely with the cameraman and the editor in all phases of production and with all departments in film and television. His visual philosophy focuses on creating the look and captivating storytelling to ultimately arouse impact and emotions in the audiences’ hearts and souls.

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
When I read the script by Mr. Tran, I thought of making a movie about a blend of love, mental disorder, thrill and drama, I knew it would be a unique and difficult challenge – but it is truly important. The idea intrigued me to explore the depth of emotions and I wanted to create a movie that really delves into the minds of the characters, their dilemma. It is a story about two characters – one struggling with mental disorder and deadly mental imbalances and the other who is a devoted lover and supporter. In the story, the characters’ (Marcel and Carla's), life would be in harmony if Marcel had not fallen ill with schizophrenia a year ago, which has been treated with tablets ever since. Unfortunately, the side effects of these tablets are so unpleasant for Marcel that he recently stopped taking them. As a result, a strong schizophrenic attack has occurred, in which Marcel falsely imagines that he has been cheated on by Carla several times with other men. In revenge, he has Carla bound and gagged and abuses her with a knife and with blows. However, he is not even aware of this, but hallucinates a harmonious loving coexistence with Carla. He is thus extremely split in personality. The film shows both dimensions of this split, the real and the hallucinated one. When a visitor, Janna, rings the doorbell, the hallucinating Marcel kindly lets her enter the apartment where the bloody disaster is already taking its course.

Poster I love youjpg

What are your ambitions with your project?
Being the director of a film which dealt with such a delicate subject such as schizophrenia, it was very challenging. All the decisions regarding the production design, the editing, the camera and light, and other aspects were crucial for the accurate portrayal of schizophrenia in the film. I painstakingly studied up on a variety of materials ranging from medical research papers to biographical accounts of sufferers in order to acquire a better understanding of the condition. That valuable knowledge I thus gained was utilised throughout the entire production process in ensuring that the film was a meticulous, cinematic and dramatic portrayal of such as situation horribly gone wrong. I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of cast and crew. Katharina Gareis and Felix Graf are incredibly talented and brilliant actors. Working with them was an amazing experience and something I'd miss if I had to go long periods without it. The project was a vast undertaking, so it was critical that everyone involved worked together to create the perfect vision. Everyone was invested in making it all come together and to turn the script, the core component of any story in a motion picture, that was full of intrigue and surprises, into a visually intriguing film. Everyone contributed their own creative ideas to help further my vision and to help make the intricate script come alive for viewers.


Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
Filming this short movie was an incredibly exciting process, and every moment was incredibly gratifying. From day two onwards, after addressing some organisational problems quickly on day one in order to identify the right solutions, I was truly impressed by the amount of effort that everyone put in to ensure the success of the project. It was truly vital, it was the key that we had a good understanding of the topic, respect for it and for each other and lots of harmony at the set of the topic, as it was a deadly hard subject.
Everyone's hard work and dedication kept things running smoothly and allowed us to make a great movie. One of the best parts of filming was seeing how all of our hard work started to come together – what a crew – what a cast – brilliant! Seeing all the different elements of the film blend and work in harmony was a beautiful process. Everyone respected each other's ideas and worked really hard to make sure that the film came out as great as possible. Until the end, everyone was enthusiastic and passionate about the project and it really showed in the final product.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
This movie is the perfect pick for fans of psychological thrillers looking for an edge-of-your-seat experience. The gripping and unpredictable plot twists will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as the tension slowly builds, while the intense performances of the talented cast will keep everyone captivated.



Why should distributors buy your film?
Distributors should purchase my short film „I Love You“ because it offers a unique story unlike anything else that currently exists and features great talent both in front of and behind the camera. My film features a compelling story, dynamic and interesting characters, and effective visual storytelling that will draw in audiences. By buying my film, distributors have the opportunity to take a risk on a unique project that could turn into a profitable venture that will be talked about for years to come. Distributors should take the chance to be part of something innovative and groundbreaking. When you visit the film’s or IMDb ), you shall find that several high-class film festivals have already selected or awarded the film „I Love You“ (e.g. Best Director, Editing, Best Short Film) like Cannes WFF, Berlin Indie Film Festival, ARFF Berlin, Best Shorts Competition, Depth of Field and Sci-fi Horror & Action Film Festival.
Homepage: https://www.imagefilme-musikvideos.de/i-love-you---short-film/
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt29345208/

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
My work is characterized by a hybrid of styles, combining a range of elements from documentary film-making, to dramatic story-telling, to a sense of lyricism and dreamlike or nightmare-like horror imagery. Since my Master studies of Shakespeare's complete works at an English university, I have been enraptured by the concept of fate and the fatal course of a story. Shakespeare is the grand master and bard of English drama. It is one of the most prominent themes found throughout the play of Hamlet - the idea of appearance vs. reality. So I strive to capture reality and create a rich visual experience for the audience. My goal is to find a balance between harnessing the power of a scene and its potential to convey emotion, while also allowing the story and characters to play out. My approach to film includes experimenting with different visual techniques, such as camera movement, composition, lighting, editing and sound design, to create an emotive, immersive experience. As far as the cast is concerned, it's nothing short of amazing. The lead roles are played perfectly by an ensemble of strong and talented actors, Katharina Gareis and Felix Graf who have excelled in bringing the characters to life in a way that is both believable and captivating. Aside from the lead roles, the supporting cast, Vanessa Klein and Erik Schuecker is simply awesome.

Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
It is a wonderful art and essence of life. Since my early age, I have been familiar with the world of cinema. My grandfather managed a cinema, and I saw first-hand behind the scenes of how a movie theater worked. I grew to appreciate the art of film-making, and the unique experience that cinemas provide. For me, it is a way to bring all elements of a story to life in a meaningful and inspiring way – everything told in my movies is being motivated and drives the story forward – and reveals something to the audience and to me, myself, as the film-maker. So I started out to learn film-making. I started to work for a production company in Munich filming a TV crime series for the German national television station, ZDF. Having gained some experience working with UFA, I decided to take the plunge and start out as an independent film-maker. Munich was full of opportunity and I soon got my first job as a director in a short movie. It was the start of a journey that has taken me to many places in the film industry – directing, cinematography, editing, sound design, unit managing and producing. No matter the size or scope of a production, there is really only one thing that is important – no matter whether in front of or behind the camera, that is motivation. It is essential in storytelling, as it propels the overall story arc, characters, plot points… I have always been a firm believer that art, in all its forms, can be used as an expression of one’s inner self and can be used to stimulate conversations around important topics. Film-making is a medium in which one can tell stories, explore different genres, and showcase their creativity. It is a craft that I have enjoyed since I was a child, and I have been captivated by the ability to bring a world to life for others. I decided to become a film-maker because I wanted to have the opportunity to bring my stories to life on the screen, to give a voice to the pictures that have been lingering inside my head. My sincere hope is that through my films, I can encourage conversations and make others think and feel about the world around them in a different and much more thankful way.

Who is your role model?
Difficult to tell. As I have been a director, DoP and editor for more than 25 years, I have had the opportunity to develop and experiment with different styles and genres. I continuously stay up to date with the newest, cutting edge technology and trends to ensure my projects remain fresh and give a unique feel. I have a passion for creating something that is visually pleasing and captivating and draw my creativity from my travels around the globe, life experience and creativity. The strongest influences since my early days and during my professional life to push the boundaries have been Stanley Kubrick, Wolfgang Petersen, Werner Herzog (who was born like me in Munich), and Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino as they drive the boundaries of storytelling with innovative approaches and creative techniques. When I studied in England at places like Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol, I delved into the world of the grand master Shakespeare and tragedies and masterpieces like the aforementioned Hamlet, my most favourite one. Whilst studying Shakespeare, I was amazed at the way his words could move, compel, and transport an audience to a different time and place, and gained a greater empathy for the nuance of human emotion and an eye for artistic detail.
Also, I have always been fascinated by Oriental and Asian storytelling in movies and productions. The grandeur and subtlety of the visuals, the complexity of the characters and plot-lines, the intricate relationships between characters, the positioning of the camera, the contrast between light and dark, and the familiar gestures and music that often accompany the narrative are all elements that create a unique and captivating experience.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
That’s easy, as I mentioned some directors before, so the strongest influences were “Das Boot”, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Who and lots of other BBC productions on stage and on screen.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
That could be a horribly long answer or simply “life is inspiration”. Inspiration can come from the most surprising places, from places I didn't even think of. It can come from an unexpected event, a song, a story, or a conversation – an emotion. Inspiration provides me with the creative spark from above to do great things, to explore and discover new possibilities, and to be brave and try something different. Every form of art, from painting to writing, can have its own sources of inspiration: perhaps the music of a favourite artist, images of a rising sun, stories told by parents or grandparent, wife or children.

Which topics interest you the most?
Any story with a meaning … storytelling – telling stories, telling their motivation and connections. Film-making is one of the most exciting pursuits that someone can undertake. With its combination of technical skill, creativity, and storytelling, it's an ever-evolving art form that captures the imagination. From cinematography and visualization of scenes and situations, to finding actors and actresses that embody the characters, and understanding the way sound, music, props, lighting, colour, and dialogue can be used to further enhance the film, the possibilities are endless.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
Thanks God, there have been so many different precious moments, favourite moments. I am so excited for the future and all of the wonderful possibilities that it holds. So far I have won some prestigious film awards like “Best Director Short Film” at the Berlin Indie Film Festival and “Outstanding Excellence Horror Short Film”, “Outstanding Excellence Direction” at Sci-Fi Horror & Action Film Festival and awards in Depth of Field International Film Festival Competition for direction and editing. Yet another achievement very dear to my director’s heart is to have become a finalist at Cannes World Film Festival with my film “I Love You”. As a lifelong movie enthusiast, these recognitions are truly meaningful to me. Yet I could not have done it without the dedication and hard work of my cast and crew, and the support by my wife, and their tireless commitment towards creating such magnificent pieces of art. The film director is one part of a much larger collaborative effort, and I cannot thank them enough for all their efforts and support. So my greatest achievement is tasting two things simultaneously: the taste of being able to cinematically express what I want to tell with the suitable, cherished magic wand – the camera - and to be humble about these achievements. Through my journey as a film-maker, I have had the opportunity of exploring the collection of beautiful moments that have inspired me to be vulnerable with my dreams. I find immense joy in observing the world around me and being able to capture these special moments in time which have the greatest impact on my work. I have always strived to be humble and realistic about what I can produce while also ensuring that each detail in each composition is carefully considered.

What do you consider most important about filming?
As a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy, I dream of blending art forms and deeper meaning with film making. I visualise mixing stunning visuals, compelling stories, pioneering ideas and creative concepts, curating a unique journey for viewers. I aspire to tell fascinating stories in creative ways, use innovative mediums and capture powerful, yet poetic, images to express a media narrative that educates, enthrals and entertains. Yet as I said before, these are wonderful things for us artists, but part of our very head-centred understanding of the world around us – but we are more than that we are inspired by that which is bigger than ourselves, that which is beyond our current understanding of reality.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
It is all about motivation in what is shown in cinematography, in a story - in my opinion, everything shown needs to have a meaning and motivation behind it. That might be the inner craving in life for a meaning of life that I depict in my films. That is very hard to answers and depends entirely on the story being told and the desired aesthetic outcome. For example, a low budget indie drama may want to use natural light to achieve a small, intimate feel, while an action-packed fantasy may require much more control over lighting and colour. Different approaches can be taken with camera movements, framing, composition and editing to create a unique style that fits the story. In the case of a narrative film, the director and cinematographer need to determine what cameras to use, where to place the camera, what lens to use and how to use framing and composition to convey the director's vision and tell the story. When it comes to capturing different scenes or locations, different techniques and equipment can be employed to help capture the desired look, such as Steadicam, tracking shots, shoulder-mounts and dolly shots. All of these techniques can be used to great effect, combining practical and aesthetic goals. Ultimately, the 'best' shooting technique is the one that best encapsulates the director's vision and helps to bring the story being told to life.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
Modern film-making technologies have opened up the possibility to bring stories to life in new and innovative ways. With the advent of computer generated imagery and increasingly sophisticated sound design, film-makers now have greater control over the creative vision they want to bring to the screen. On the other hand, audiences are exposed to so many films that it can be hard to stand out from the rest. This means that film-makers need to be more creative and find an original angle in order to make their films memorable. The rise of streaming services and the video-on-demand economy has also revolutionized the way in which film-makers can finance and distribute their projects. There are now numerous avenues available for film-makers to reach wider audiences and get more exposure for their films. This has also led to a surge of independent film-makers who are able to make lower budget films with more quality and potential than ever before.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
Disappointment in a movie can take on many forms. It can range from the inherent disappointment of a film not living up to its potential, to being deeply upsetting due to its clichéd plot, unoriginality and clichés, and its failure to touch viewers in an emotionally powerful and artistic way. Also too much reliance on jump scares or horror clichés can make the movie feel tired and formulaic. Sometimes movie studios release films with intense editing and a drastically altered plot in order to attract a broader audience or to make it as short as possible. The lack of character development or growth can leave the movie feeling shallow and uninteresting. Many movies rely too heavily on tried and true formulas and fail to be anything new or special. Sadly, disappointments like these can be all too common in modern film-making.

Who supports you in your film career?
Every successful film career begins and ends with the support of the people around us – and inspiration – that spark of creativity from “beyond”. From family and friends to mentors and colleagues, each of us need a number of people to encourage, challenge, and motivate us along the way. For me, it starts with the support of my loving family — they were there for me when I took my first steps into the film industry, and my family continue to be my greatest source of strength and enthusiasm. Then, there are my trusted team of collaborators, all of whom bring a unique set of skills to the table, and challenge my ways of thinking. They provide honest feedback on projects, and while we don’t always agree on things, their opinions are invaluable to my growth as a film-maker. It goes without saying that none of us can achieve our goals alone, and for that I am forever grateful to all the people who have supported me in my film career.

What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
The reactions to my film have been positive. Spectators have said they were deeply touched by the film's story, moved by the characters' struggles, and found its messages effective. Film critics have praised the film for its attention to detail, its strong performances, and its clever use of music and camera angles. INDIEWRAP applauded that the “plot is great, the twists fantastic and there is a foreboding sense of terror peppered throughout the film. Rafael Maria Friebe has done a fascinating job, one that will resonate with the audiences long after the credits begin to roll. The film is a rare gem that manages to mix excellent storytelling, brilliant acting, and stunning visuals to create a truly unforgettable experience”. (INDIEWRAP Review – ‘I Love You’ Directed By Rafael Maria Friebe). Behind the camera, friends and family have also provided encouraging and enthusiastic feedback about the film-making process, as well as the overall positive impact of the film. The warm response has been incredibly gratifying and I'm extremely proud of the end result. They particularly appreciated the strong acting and exquisite visuals.

Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
When I grew up, my grandpa was the manager of our local cinema, and my earliest memories are of watching films with him. Since then, I am eager to make movies and attend film festivals all over the world. How thrilling and rewarding an experience it is. Not only do you get to see some of the most acclaimed films of the season but you can also catch up on the current trends in the world of cinema, meet with experienced film professionals, and gain invaluable knowledge about the industry. You may also get a chance to rub elbows with some of the most celebrated celebrities in the industry. Film festivals provide an extraordinary audio-visual experience that never fails to leave attendees mesmerized and wanting more. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for movie buffs to interact with like-minded people, explore a wide array of genres and go beyond the world of cinema. Visiting one of the major festivals can be a great way to gain unique insights about the industry and its different facets. Do not let the opportunity pass, if you are yet to attend any of the high-profile film festivals.

What are your future plans in filmmaking carriere?
Making movies is always an exciting opportunity for me, as it allows me to challenge my imagination and creativity. There are so many possibilities to explore, it has become something of a passion! I have numerous ideas in the works, all ready for scripting and filming. As for my favourite idea, I plan to create a sequel for the popular “I Love You” movie. Well, I am here to let you know that I have something in the works! I am gathering a talented crew helping me to bring this movie to life. We are working hard to honour the original's spirit while delivering something completely new and unique. We plan to explore some new characters and avenues, but we promise to stay true to the original's message. Additionally, I can casually reveal that some of the original cast may make appearances in the sequel. I can't give away too much at the moment, but I am confident that I Love You fans will not be disappointed. Stay tuned for more details in the near future.


Learn more about the projects