FilmCourage: Where did you grow up?
Marc R. Wilkins: I am a hippie child. I grew up at many places. For some time we lived in a camper-van, camping in the gardens of friends of my parents. But the highlight of my childhood as living in a commune on the island of Crete. We were sleeping in sleeping bags, our bathtub was a well in a bamboo-forest.
FilmCourage: In hindsight, how did life change for you after moving to Crete at age 5?
Marc: My parents left the middle-class-comfort of Switzerland for a reason. They were seeking freedom, nature adventure. It was perfect for my brother and me. Playing at the beach and in deserted villages all day long, watching snakes, and, starting to record my very first audio-plays. I remember my fingers being nearly too small and weak to push the strong buttons of my old battery powered cassette-tape-recorder down.
Marc: No. I quit school when I was 18 and started to work as a production assistant. I knew I wanted to learn how to direct, but I wanted to learn it on a set, not in a classroom. I was not convinced that I could find teachers in a school which I could respect and learn from.
But today I think about this subject a bit differently. Film school is a good option. Especially because of the fact that you are surrounded by other young filmmakers with the same goal: To become a great storyteller. I believe it is a very fertile surrounding for a young filmmaker to have other students around to discuss your ideas, explore them together, criticize each other.
FilmCourage: Favorite anti-authority quote and by whom?
Marc:Don’t worry about the rebellious kids. Don’t worry about the trouble makers. They will find their way. Worry about the obedient, with no will and without independent ideas. by Rudolf Steiner. (I don’t know the exact wording.)
FilmCourage: Favorite quote on writing or directing and by whom?
Marc: I don’t have a quote in stock, but I am inspired by Werner Herzog’s thinking: There is nothing wrong with spending a night in a jail if it means getting the shot you need.
FilmCourage: What’s the best and worst job you’ve previously held?
Marc: I would like to exclude film-jobs here. The best job was to help my friends selling fantastic pulled pork sandwiches. I was the cashier. It was simply incredible to have a new face in front of me every minute, total strangers, hungry, talking to me. Like a wild form of speed-dating. I was totally exposed to this strangers. The sandwiches were so good that we had a long cue. I could not stop the line of encounters, people just kept running into me, hungry and excited.
The worst job was being a waiter at a Oktoberfest in Bavaria. I was serving huge mugs of beer and plates overcrowded with sausages and sauerkraut. My guests were all huge, loud and in the mood for dirty jokes I did not get. It was a nightmare.
Marc: This was quite a big surprise. It was my third commercial project: A commercial for the NGO Doctors without boarders. A friend who was working at an advertising agency wrote it in his free time and asked me to direct it. We had not budget. I borrowed some money and equipment, and we shot it.
The Golden Lion was an unexpected surprise.
FilmCourage: How long do you think it will take to finish the movie if you complete funding?Marc: We want to get this film out there as quickly as possible. I hope post production will be finished end of March.
FilmCourage: Do you know many of the 180 plus Kickstarter backers?
Marc: Yes, indeed. Many friends and filmmaker-friends. I hope to be able to introduce the project to more people outside of my circle of friends in the next days.
FilmCourage: Any plans to turn BON VOYAGE into a feature?
Marc: The original idea was full length feature. But it would take too long to finance it. We are shooting the short now, and if it comes out well, we will tackle the feature.
FilmCourage: What does your film BON VOYAGE say about the world we live in? What universal themes are explored in your film?
Marc: Fear, generosity, courage, hope, egoism.
FilmCourage: What emotions do you feel your film brings forth in viewers?
Marc: I hope that the audience will feel inspired to rethink their own situation. Already the fact to find 30 minutes of peaceful free time and having the access to technology to make it possible to watch BON VOYAGE makes us privileged. With privilege comes social responsibility.
FilmCourage: How long did it take you to write the screenplay for BON VOYAGE?
Marc: I was working for three months on BON VOYAGE. It took me around five drafts. It’s 15 pages, but very fast-paced.
While I write I share my scripts with many. I like to expose my work-in-progress-material to an audience. Not because I am not sure how it is, but I like to test it.
FilmCourage: Where do you write and with what?
Marc: My laptop. Always at a desk. BON VOYAGE was written in a boat shed in Malta, an Airbnb apartment in Istanbul, my grandmother’s kitchen table in Switzerland, and my desk in New York.
FilmCourage: Do you listen to music when you write?
Marc: No, I could not concentrate. I like to listen to music between the writing.
FilmCourage: Where did you cast your actors from? How did you audition them?
Marc: We’ve only casted the sailors so far, the characters of Reto and Silvia. I had the pleasure to work with the fantastic casting director Susan Maller from Zurich. The casting for Abel, Dora, Maha and the other Syrian refugees will be done in Istanbul with a Turkish casting director.
FilmCourage: Have you ever cast an actor you’ve never met in person? If they were right for a role, how did you know?
Marc: Yes, I saw him only on Skype first: Darri Ingolfsson. He was playing Gunnar in my last short film, HOTEL PENNSYLVANIA. He was in LA, I was in NYC. We had no budget for casting-travels. He was so convincing during two Skype-sessions. But after I met him in person for the rehearsals and costume-fittings, I got very unsure. He was so different then I imagined him. But once we where shooting, in front of the camera, he was amazing. Topping my expectations. I guess he needs a camera. A web-cam, or a film-camera… Just a camera..
FilmCourage: Have you ever assembled your team without meeting someone in person? How did you know it would work?
Marc: Casting and putting together you key team is one of the most important tasks for a director. You must at least talk to you key crew members before hiring them. On the phone, on Skype. There are so many possibilities for communication this days. But you must feel a vibe, chemistry, and a connection. I also need to admire them. I want to work with people I can look up to and learn from.
Marc: We are going to shoot off the coast of Antalya. I have been to Turkey many times, but not to the south-east-Mediterranean sea. If the crowdfunding goes well, I will start a precise scouting beginning of January.
FilmCourage: What’s next for you creatively?
Marc: Turning the novel THE SAINT OF THE IMPOSSIBLE into a feature film. A New York story about two Peruvian teen-brothers, their beautiful mother, a mysterious Ukrainian girl and a romantic pulp fiction novelist. I will shoot it with the same team I am, fingers crossed, shooting BON VOYAGE with.
Born in 1976 in Switzerland, Marc has Swiss-British citizenship.
At the age of five, he moved with his family to the Island of Crete. This was an important period in Marc’s childhood, leaving neat Switzerland behind, finding his new home surrounded by the wild beaches of the Mediterranean sea, making friends with snakes and turtles. This is where he started to enjoy storytelling by recording audio-plays with his dusty battery powered tape-recorder. Moving to Germany in his early teens, he discovered photography. From then on he spent his sunny afternoons in the darkroom, developing pictures. He skipped class to spend as much time as possible with his camerawork.
At 16, during a student exchange in New Zealand, he shot his first short film on Super 8: BREAKINGOUT. It premiered during a youth film festival in Germany. Finishing school early, he taught himself the craft of filmmaking on location, working in different departments in over 10 feature film projects all over Europe.
In 1997 he founded KINOHERZ, a board of young directors aiming at creating short movies. He produced the short film NASS and the international award winning short LEROY CLEANS UP. The second short he directed, TAKSI MUNICH, won BEST SHORT COMEDY at the WorldFest Film Festival in Houston/USA and the GOLDEN HOPE AUDIENCE AWARD in Munich.
When he was just 23, the directors’ group YOUNG GUNS recognized Marc as an emerging talent for commercials. In 2003 he was chosen as one of Saatchi’s 25 top ‘Young Directors’ in the world. In the same year he won his first Golden Lion for the commercial GAME OVER for ‘Doctors without boarders’.
His New York based short film, HOTEL PENNSYLVANIA, premiered in 2013. It was an official selection of many festivals around the globe and awarded with jury- and audience-prizes. While directing over 200 commercials and music videos, Marc has shot in every continent for clients like BMW, SPRINT, MERCEDES-BENZ, UNIVERSAL, BMG, T-MOBILE, NIVEA and SONY ERICSSON. A European who winks to America, he calls his approach to filming anti-intellectual, and his relation to life naÃ¯ve with a purpose.
Through his rigorous commitment to the camera and elegant use of postproduction and sound, he entertains himself and the viewer alike with a poetic touch of provocative surrealism that is his signature. Beside preparing the filming of his short film BON VOYAGE, he is in development for his debut feature film THE SAINT OF THE IMPOSSIBLE.
Marc resides in New York City and Berlin.
2013 PRIX SPECIAL DU JURY at the Le Nuits Meds France for HOTEL PENNSYLVANIA (short)
2013 PREMIERE at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival for HOTEL PENNSYLVANIA (short)
2012 EPICA D’ORE for THE BUS (tvc)
2012 GOLD, EUROBEST for THE BUS (tvc)
2013 BRONZE, Best Director, LONDON INTERNATIONAL for THE BUS (tvc)
2010 GOLD for ANGEL FRANKY at the EDIs in Switzerland (tvc)
2010 Shortlist in CANNES for ANGEL FRANKY (tvc)
2010 GOLD for ANGEL FRANKY at the Cross Media Awards (tvc)
2007 GOLDEN AWARD OF MONTREUX for TRANSPARENT CITY (tvc)
2007 BRONZE at the EPICA festival for TRANSPARENT CITY (tvc)
2004 Gold at Promax & BDA Awards New York for the MDR Station Design, FEEL AT HOME
2003 GOLD LION in Cannes, for the film for decines Sans Frontires, GAME OVER
2003 Shortlist in CANNES for Riccardo Cartillone, HAND FOOT
2003 Saatchi presents Marc as one of the top 25 New Directors in CANNES.
2001 Gold “Best Foreign Comedy Short”, Houston/USA for The short film TAKSI MUNICH
2000 Silver at the “Golden Hope” awards for the short film TAKSI MUNICH