When the 2013 Sundance Film Festival launches tomorrow a film shot in Houston and aptly titled Houston will have its world premiere as one of a dozen films in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. The synopsis on the Sundance website describes Houston as such: “Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. While searching for a CEO candidate in Houston, his addiction submerges him into his own darkness.”
Free Press Houston talked to writer/ director Bastian Günther via Skype about the premiere of his second feature. Günther’s first film was called Autopiloten (2007) and for his sophomore effort he wanted to make “a film about a person in the throes of addiction but not as a social drama.” Additional Günther states, “I wanted to shoot in an American city associated with finance or business and I narrowed down my choices to Atlanta or Houston. In my script quick success is meaningless.”
Günther currently divides his residence between Berlin and Austin. “It’s such a green, laid back city,” Günther smiles. Günther’s grasp of English is quite good, certainly better than my grasp of German. Perhaps that’s no coincidence considering he grew up seeking out American films like Stranger Than Paradise or Two Lane Blacktop. Our conversation swerves to films by Altman and Antonioni.
Günther shot Houston on film. “I specifically used some Lomo Lenses that were made over 30 years ago. Over time the glass of the lenses has changed and it gives the image unique flares,” remarks Günther. The local crew used on the film hadn’t worked on project that wasn’t digital for more than a few years. About getting film Günther relates, “Getting raw stock is not the problem, the problem is a lot of labs have gone completely digital.” The production used a lab in Seattle to process the film. Locations include scenes shot on North Boulevard, the downtown Hyatt Regency, some industrial sites near downtown and a sequence shot in El Campo.
Günther describes his process as follows: “There’s a change in every stage of making a film. I try to set the pace of the film through the camera work. I ending up cutting out some scenes at the beginning because it felt like the lead character spent too much time in Germany before he comes to Houston.”
Additionally Günther gives the film an existential ending as his protagonist ends up wandering into the city’s annual art car parade. “We actually shot that last November, and recreated a section of the parade using about 50 art cars.”
- Michael Bergeron