Put the decimal point in a nutshell. Florian Meimberg made it to the championship in it. First as a creative and advertiser, then as an author of hundreds of short stories, none of which is longer than 140 characters. For 10 years as a successful director of commercials in the business, he has now filmed four of his own Tiny Tales and turned them into Micro Movies. In an interview with Filmpulse, the ADC member explains how to combine head cinema and Hollywood in 30 seconds
Filmpulse: Florian, who are you?
Florian Meimberg as the inventor of coaster stories has made an entry in Wikipedia: His short stories (also known as Tiny Tales) consist of no more than 140 characters. In 2010 Meimberg was awarded the renowned Grimme Online Award for this. 2011 appeared with “It’s all about length: Tiny Tales. Very short stories” his first book publication.
Florian has 14 years of experience as an agency creative campaign designer for major brands. As the responsible Creative Director, the ADC member supervised numerous film productions around the globe.
Since 2010 he has been working as a director for commercials, image films, virals, webisodes and music videos.mehr ...
Florian Meimberg: I am Florian Meimberg. I am 44 and live with my wife (a novelist) and my two sons near Düsseldorf. Professionally, I shoot commercials as a director.
Filmpulse: After the Grimme Online Award the following passage about you could be read in the Frankfurter Rundschau: “But he doesn’t want to film the Tiny Tales: That’s exactly the trick – I create the film in my head. And often I only create the height of the fall with the last word. That wouldn’t be so cool on a screen.” – Now we have the micro-movies based on your Twitter short stories. Why this change of opinion?
Florian Meimberg: Did I really say that back then? You’ve done your research. Well, I’ve proven myself wrong. The idea for the “Micro Movies” has actually grown over the years. Back when I did the Tiny Tales (aka Micro Movies), I was at the very beginning of my directing career. And I had no idea what the size of the Tiny Tales project would grow to. The book, the appearance on “TV Total”. To this day the Tiny Tales have enthusiastic fans and again and again I hear the question if and when there will be sequels.
Filmpulse:Did this wish trigger something in you?
Florian Meimberg:In the course of the years in which I was able to gain directing experience and was responsible for ever larger productions, the question flickered up more and more often: Why not film some of the Tales…? And that’s exactly what I defined as my mission: to create the same drastic drops at the end of the stories by means of film.
All that matters is the story!
Filmpulse: How do you manage the realization of four such videos, which can hardly be surpassed in their professionalism? Did you cancel your family’s holidays and Christmas presents for the next 10 years?
Florian Meimberg:Haha, no way! We like to travel far too much for that. Incidentally, one of my greatest sources of inspiration – faraway countries! After I had decided to realize the Micro Movies, I pitched the idea to several production companies. Most people thought they were great. But also shied away from the effort. Because I made one thing clear from the start. We must NOT make any qualitative compromises during production. On the contrary: The Micro Movies must “trickle before Production Value. They must feel stylistically like motion pictures. Large and international. Only then can the final twist ignite like a written Tiny Tale. Because the head cinema knows – fortunately – no budget limits.
“The Test” | Tiny Tale / Micro Movie by Florian Meimberg
Filmpulse: Very concrete?
Florian Meimberg:The friendly production company lippertwaterkotte from Hamburg finally agreed enthusiastically to produce the films with me. Of course with a considerable financial investment. But it was many times smaller than a qualitatively comparable advertising film. I was able to convince most of the crew to participate for free. The most important – and actually most expensive – key players, at least, such as Director of Photography (Peter Meyer) Casting (Matheis Casting), Wardrobe (Katja Hoeft), Production Design (Alex Walzel) and Editor (Alex Murygin). All people with whom I have already shot several big and paid jobs. By the way, the actors also took part without a fee. And are happy about great food for their showreels.
“The Visitor” | Tiny Tale / Micro Movie by Florian Meimberg
Filmpulse: For the majority of screenwriters, the mantra for storytelling is: Scenes do not make a story! How did you deal with this contradiction in the Micro Movies?
Florian Meimberg:This is exactly the idea behind the Tiny Tales: to tell a complete story in a very compressed form. Actually, all Tiny Tales are classic three-acting with exposure, conflict and resolution. Except that here one of the acts also plays in the mind of the reader (or now spectator).
My Micro Movies have to be dripping with Production Value!
Filmpulse: What was individual head cinema for the Tiny Tales suddenly manifests itself through the choice of actors and locations in an extremely real and concrete way. How did you experience this during the adaptation?
Florian Meimberg:That was indeed one of the big challenges. This was mainly due to the selection of Tiny Tales that I filmed. So I had to find stories in which the head cinema scenarios play quasi “in the off”. The locked door of the hotel suite in “Roomservice”. The true identity of the old man in The Interrogation. Or the actual family relationship of the couple in “The Test”.
“The Interrogation” | Micro Movie/ Tiny Tale by Florian Meimberg
Filmpulse: It happens again and again and is often common practice. Nevertheless, I ask this question. Is it wise to be a director and shoot a story that you wrote yourself? How did you bring the two hearts in your chest into harmony in the Micro Movies?
Florian Meimberg:The Tiny Tales were a “one man show”. I had no client, no advertising agency. It’s a little idea that came up in a beer mood. The only creative person involved was the art director Sebastian Kaiser. A close friend of mine who did the great illustrations for the book. And my wife contributed a handful of Tiny Tales at that time (including the one for “The Test”). Otherwise, it’s all grown on my crap. So there was no question that as a director I wanted to direct the films myself. Had to! Now of course together with a great team.
Head cinema knows no budget limits.
[FrageFilmpulse:What do you expect from the Micro Movies?
Florian Meimberg: I hope that the films will help the team, and of course me in my main job as a commercial film director. After all, advertising is a market that is unfortunately very much divided into genre drawers. I shoot a lot of vignette movies. These are often relatively trivial lifestyle scripts. Great pictures and exciting shoots in Cape Town or Barcelona, but not too demanding in terms of content.
Filmpulse: How are you positioned as a director?
Florian Meimberg: In the last years I have shot many beer spots. Soon I’ll be through all the big German beer brands. These spots are also often similar. But in the eyes of the industry, I am now the “beer specialist”. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining and I love my job. But there’s more. I would also like to tell more demanding stories. And this is possible – with the right scripts – even in advertising.
Filmpulse: During the filmic realisation it is noticeable that not all movies move equally close to the original. So there are obviously Tiny Tales that were easier to stage and those that were more difficult to stage? How did the selection of these four micro movies come about?
Florian Meimberg: I found this phase particularly exciting! Sure, some of the 300 Tiny Tales immediately fell through the grid. During our shooting in Hamburg, the South Pole, Las Vegas or the Andromeda Galaxy were rather unrealistic than locations. “The Test”, for example, is a fairly direct translation of the original Tiny Tale. With one tiny difference. The close-up of the two wedding rings even gives the story the completely opposite ending than in the originally written tale. I like “room service” as a story. But at first it wasn’t one-to-one filmable. It went like this:
Liz knocked on the door of room 9. The room service role playing for 150 extra. A good day. In her pocket was the note with the number 6.
The note in the pocket has now become the door of the room with the reversed number. That is exactly what directing is: How can I translate a written script into film images most effectively and pointedly?
Filmpulse: Malicious tongues claim that there are only three archetypes of commercials that work Testimonials, vignettes and filmed jokes – whereby the latter fall back on the ever-same dramaturgical structural principle. If one considers the Micro Movies as a “filmed joke”, the form of implementation seems to me far less innovative than was the case with the Tiny Tales?
Florian Meimberg: The Tiny Tales were also perceived as so innovative at the time because the medium Twitter was only three years old. And as there were mainly banal chatter or soulless links to be found there, the Tiny Tales of course beamed out of this background noise. If one now compares the micro movies with commercials, then one must apply the same yardstick as for all stories: The best one wins. No matter how high quality a film may be staged – if the story doesn’t inspire the audience, all this is worth nothing. And the best commercials in the world are euphorically celebrated worldwide and at international festivals such as the Cannes Lions. Because they’re well-written stories. Just very short ones.
“Room Service” | Tiny Tale by Florian Meimberg
Filmpulse: Micro Movies live from reduction. Films live on emotions. How far can emotions be condensed and reduced without robbing them of their power? Can you give our readers some concrete tips or reveal some tricks?
Florian Meimberg: This is exactly the challenge I face every day as a commercial film director. I must try to apply this reduction in each individual trade and thus achieve the greatest possible effect. Actors with striking faces cast and a mine play with great radiance. Create production design concepts that tell a lot in a small space and are equipped with details that add important extra layers to the story.
Filmpulse:What role does the montage play in this?
Florian Meimberg: A very decisive part of compaction occurs during cutting. Jumpcuts and omissions can unfold an immense narrative force if used correctly. Because here less is often more. In the edit for commercials we juggle with fractions of a second. Sometimes for hours. And finally, the sound design and the music score are also important elements to charge these condensed story concentrates with emotion and fuse them into three-dimensional units.
I love my job as a director. But there’s more!
Filmpulse: Will the current four micro movies remain or will more films be added bit by bit?
Florian Meimberg: Well, let’s see what happens. This low-budget approach with a lot of goodwill from the crew is certainly not repeatable. But let’s see what 2020 brings. How the Micro Movies perform at the festivals, for example. Maybe Netflix would like to do an anthology series with 50 mini-series or so. 😉
Filmpulse: You discovered Twitter eight years before Donald Trump, back then with a restriction to 140 characters instead of 280 as today. Do you have any advice for him on how he might use the canal more wisely?
Florian Meimberg: At best not at all!
Filmpulse: After a decade as a director in the advertising film business … – can you sum up your experience as Tiny Tale in 140 characters for us?
Florian Meimberg:The old antiquarian proudly pointed to the old screen. “This is what people made money with in the last millennium. It was called advertising.”
Filmpulse: Directors like to add “famous last words” at the end of their Director’s Interpretation, a message or a call, what the reader should take with them. What is the echo to your person or career that should resonate with this interview?
Florian Meimberg:All that counts is the story! Bombastic and high-quality staged blockbusters are great to watch and pleasant “Eye Candy”. But a good story is so much more. At best, it tells us something about the world, about being human, about ourselves. Or as script Pope Robert McKee once said: “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.
Filmpulse:Thank you, Florian, for this interview!
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