INTERVIEW THROUGH MODERN FILM ARCHIVE
Our interview with Jon Watzlawick, a photographer, director, writer and all round creative, originally from Germany but located in Cannes and Bali. Jon works in black and white or soft, muted colour, taking intimate photos that celebrate natural beauty and the female form.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO FIRST PICK UP A FILM CAMERA? DO YOU USE DIGITAL AT ALL?
I have always been an old soul stumbling through this new world. Connected to old music, old films, words, photographs and manners. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time with my beloved grandfather when I grew up — Sneaking up on his office door, watching him through the keyhole writing letters on his old black continental typewriter. I admired him, hitting the big, heavy keys with such joy. I always had a camera in my hand. Mostly video when I grew up. Running in my denim overall, at the age of four with a big smile and wild blond hair, through the living room and filming everything that felt just right for me.
I’ve been exclusively shooting film for two or three years now, developing mostly on my own, scanning on my own, and working as much offline as possible. But I have also spent a lot of my time using digital cameras, to grow and work commercial-wise. There is no right or wrong, it’s just about whatever feels the greatest for you.
I CAN SEE THAT YOU WRITE, CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THIS AND IF IT’S SOMETHING THAT YOU’VE ALWAYS DONE?
While I have every hope and plan on finishing my writings in “June”, you know how those things often come out, and even if it takes me ten times that long I cannot let it go out unless it has the very best I’m capable of in it, or even, as I feel sometimes, something better than I’m capable of.
Writing is like life-long homework. And I always hated homework. I guess that’s the reason why I love it so much. To suffer and grow, to overcome this motherfucker in my head who constantly tries to make me quit. And, I love the sound of words, the feeling of accomplishing something that last forever. To tell stories — And that’s the connection I have with every single one of my passions. No matter if it’s photography, directing writing or painting, I want to tell stories, I want to make people see the beauty of a woman, the beauty of the world through my own eyes. Because it’s something fucking beautiful that I see.
DO YOU THINK THAT FILM IS TRULY ALIVE?
Shooting film is like sisters. I never grew up with a sister, but film is my imaginary eldest one. Picking on me, but teaching me how to love. And, like every beauty of this world, film will live until the last one forgets about its magic.
I don’t see why we can’t work and breath in a world where both parts have their places. It’s mostly not even about the technicality. It’s more about the feeling, it’s more about the story or the photograph that is visualising the idea. My grandpa always told me “If you truly believe in something, if you truly love someone, you’ll always find a way.”
WHAT DO YOU USUALLY DO WHEN YOU FEEL A LACK OF INSPIRATION?
Even if your question sounds really hard to answer, it’s pretty easy for me. You just have to work through it! Inspiration is something you can’t control, but what I’ve learned is, that when you truly commit and put the work in and keep on creating, write and write and write until no words are left, or pick up the camera and shoot, take your guitar and play, your paper and paint, inspiration will come. For sure! It will reward you like a big smiling penguin, sliding your way on its belly.
I NOTICED THAT YOU ALSO MAKE FILMS, CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THIS TOO?
Making movies, or writing screenplays – creating – is like my big first love in summer camp. We all have one big talent in life. Maybe we can do a lot of things pretty pretty good – but one thing without question – comes with such ease, and that’s our biggest talent. For me it’s been always canoeing, but in the creative world it’s probably filmmaking that comes the closest to it.
Wherever I go and whatever I do, I see the world as a movie. I even see my own life as a movie and try to be the hero in my own story. Always on the bottom, gasping for the big dream. Not to be dramatic, over-romantic or just someone you have to pretend to be. No, it’s more like the beauty of reaching heaven, of moving pictures and dialog. Framing your own emotions in such ways that you can transfer it into the heart of someone else. Even if it sounds kinda soapy when I put it like that.
But it’s all way harder than it looks, it is a big mess going into the process. A lot of things to deal with, a lot of pressure and later on – as the story goes on – you can crystalize the details of your characters. You can outline her real self-existence. The reader or watcher may receive the “punch of the story’’ and the actual content of its characters which are conjured up right before the end.
Bullshit Bible – A Book About Everything And Nothing / Short Stories & Quotes / Buy it here
Jaguar Land Rover Commercial (2020) / w. Niels Oberson in Switzerland
Jaguar Land Rover Commercial (2020) / w. Niklas Söderlund in Sweden
Jaguar Land Rover Commercial (2020) / w. Przemek Kossakowski in Poland
Kickstarter (2019) / Short Film Commercial w. Henry Horn
Wormland – Be Hungry Campaign (2019) / w. Dahlia Provoost & René Grincourt
Volkswagen Influencer Series (2019) / Germany
Ewa Herzog (2018) / Fashion Film For Fall And Spring Collection 2018