Screamfest LA 2012: Exclusive – Directors Carsten Vauth and Marco J. Riedl Talk 'On Air'; Exclusive Photos
With the 12th annual and venerated Screamfest L.A. Film Festival running this Friday, October 12th, thru the 20th, we chatted with On Air's German directors Carsten Vauth and Marco J. Riedl regarding their serial killer flick, which is set for its LA debut on October 13th at 7:00pm.
Written by Riedl and produced by Daniel Polster and Christian Pohl with the tagline ‘Psycho meets Saw’, On Air stars Markus Knuefken, Charles Rettinghaus, Ronald Nitschke, Jasmin Lord, Jessica Ginkel and Wolfgang Pampel, and (according to the film’s synopsis) follows "a man (Knuefken) who runs the pirate radio station ‘Nighthawk’ from the basement of his house, and every Saturday night he goes ‘On Air’ as ‘Doc Rock’. Unexpectedly the serial killer ‘Das Nachtschlitzer,’ or 'The Night Slasher' (Rettinghaus), calls in on his show, and now Doc has to stop him from killing his next victim. The struggle for survival is ON… AIR.’
Chatting with co-director and writer Riedl, the filmmaker told us of his inspiration for On Air, “Years ago, the American sitcom “Frasier” and Frasier’s famous line ‘I’m listening’ gave me the idea of writing a psychological thriller about a radio DJ and Sigmund Freud’s thesis of ‘the ego is not master in its own house.’”
“I tried to picture myself in the DJ’s position,” continued Reidl of the concept. “What if a serial killer calls in on my show and challenges me to stop him from killing his next victim by saying, ‘OFF AIR means to die, ON AIR to stay alive’? What a catch phrase! The nightmarish scenario struck a primal fear deep within me. I’m fascinated by exploring and confronting my own fears, and for that reason I was enthralled by the story. Likewise was my friend and co-director Carsten, who came immediately on board. For the both of us, the simplicity of the story and the universality of the primal fears that it raises were the two elements which guided our creative approach to the film.”
As for the writing of On Air, “Carsten and I knew we had a perfect thriller on our hands,” continued Reidl, “and gripped by excitement, I started working on the screenplay that would later become On Air. After six months of work I finished the script of the psycho-duel between Doc Rock, a radio DJ, and the serial killer, The Night Slasher.”
In an effort to raise financing for the feature version of On Air, Rield and Vauth shot the short film of the same name, which went on to win the European NBC Universal ‘Shocking Short Award’ in Munich, Germany. Said Reidl, “A producer saw the short and was immediately fascinated by it, and he called us up and offered to finance the feature.”
Reidl and Vauth shot the feature version on the Red Epic over the course of thirty-two days in Leipzig and its surroundings in their native Germany. ”We were aiming for a dark, eerie, yet colorful retro-look with green, red and cyan in the beginning of the film,” communicated Riedl of the project’s production design and cinematography, “especially in Doc Rock's basement and radio-station, which turns gradually into a dim, faded and sharp bleached bypass world, in order to emphasize Doc Rock's growing horror.”
”We started shooting on February third,” recalled Vauth, “and two days before we shot the first take, a really rough winter hit Germany. So we found ourselves lost in the middle of the night in a dark forest with snow everywhere in minus four degree Fahrenheit (conditions), and we all thought, ‘What the fuck are we doing here, freezing our asses off, and why didn't we listen to our moms and take serious jobs?!’ We all did survive it, but we were really happy when we started shooting scenes in the studio.”
As for post-production, “Our editor, Marc Steinicke, finished the rough cut by the end of principal photography in March 2012,” said Vauth, “and after a two-week break we started with the official post-production, which ended with the director's cut early October of 2012.”
On Air at present has secured distribution for the German language market.
Tickets to On Air at Screamfest can be purchased by clicking here. The event takes place at the LA Regal Cinemas Stadium 14, 1000 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Tickets to the Opening Night Film & Party of Screamfest can be purchased here, full festival passes can be purchased here, and the full schedule can be found here. For more info follow Screamfest (official site here) on Twitter or Facebook.
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