Film Courage: Fatih, I would love to hear your process for making the playlist using Queens of the Stone Age for [IN THE FADE’s protagonist] Katja and how you sort of developed her emotions within their songs?
Fatih Akin: Finding the right music in the early stage is always very important for me that I have an access to my own material and emotional access because music is all about emotions. And I was looking for what is the right tone for this? And the tone it has to be something which is melancholic and aggressive at the same time.
And I was like “Okay, that’s Queen’s music!” So I made up this list of certain songs of all the Queens of the Stone Age albums and I gave the playlist to Diane. It was an instinctive thought you know of songs and Diane immediately responded to it, very positively.
She wasn’t like “I hate the music.” You know, she was not like that at all. She said it felt right. So I get in touch with Josh Homme [frontman of Queens of the Stone Age]. And I told him “Hey, I’m this filmmaker from Germany and I’m doing this film. And it’s a bit tiny and it’s about this and that.” And he said “Can you send me the film?” So I sent him the very rough cut. He immediately liked the film a lot and he asked me “Does the score have to be rock?” And I said “Josh, do whatever you feel is right.” And he did it and I think he made the perfect soundtrack for it.
Film Courage: Absolutely. [Diane] On a film set, is a director always right?
Diane Kruger: Uh, 98 percent, yes.
Film Courage: What about the other 2 percent?
Diane Kruger: The other 2 percent I feel like sometimes an actor has an instinct and that goes against the instinct of the director and when you propose it, it turns out sometimes the actor is right, you know? But I would always, always first go with the director’s instinct and then you can just sort of fine tune it, maybe?
Film Courage: Fatih, do you have any instances where there was a scene and Diane suggested one other way and how it worked? I mean are you sort of married to one idea or are you very fluid in terms of how you approach a filming day?
Fatih Akin: I work fluidly. I work very close with my actors and I don’t know everything, you know? It’s like…I don’t have the impression that it’s 98 percent. I think it’s less, you know? I don’t mean it as a humble thing, I mean it as it is.
For me working on the set, I like every aspect of it. I like the technical aspect, I like the camera, I like the writing, I like the breaks to do the food. But what I like the most on set to work on is with the actors. That’s how everything starts for me. That’s the thing that interests me the most.
And here I really had an exchange that I came up with half an idea and Diane has half an idea and together we make one idea out of it, which is right.
In the very last shot of the trial of the film where there is this [camera] trekking back and zooming in shot, I had the idea that Diane has to act differently than what she is doing in the film. Because the technical element of that shot was so difficult. I mean 7 or 8 takes and maybe Diane was tired of that emotion? I don’t know, I don’t remember?
But all she felt like was that it doesn’t feel right. She said that after the 12th or 13th takes, she said “Can I suggest something? I would like to do it differently. I would like to do nothing.” And I was like “Yeah, go ahead.”
And she made it and first of all, that was the best take in terms of technically. And you know it was like a spiritual thing. It was like that was right because she gave the right emotion, the camera filmed it in the right way. I believe in these things, you know?
I saw her attitude, her idea and I used it for the whole last part of the film (what she’d given in there). So it was more than 98 percent, I tell you. I mean less, sorry! It was less than 98 percent.
Film Courage: Even under ideal circumstances everyone has days where even if they love a project, it gets to be a lot. You know, different things happen, life happens. So what keeps you going with a project even when it seems like the Universe is sort of conspiring against you, which tends to happen even with something that you love? What keeps you going with a project? Even when it seems like there are all of these things in your way and you stay with it?
Fatih Akin: The tiny little voice in your ear. It really is there and everybody can say “I don’t like the screenplay and I don’t think it’s bankable. I don’t think anybody will see it.” I hear these things, especially from this film, based on that screenplay. I heard that a lot from very close people around me. But there’s an inner voice when those people cannot touch this voice, then you know it’s right and then you go on.
Sometimes if they can touch this voice, they may be right and you start to question it.
Diane Kruger: Well, once you are committed to a project, you’re sort of in it. There’s no way of having a bad day. I think at least the times when I’ve been on a film set and I felt like the movie is not going to be great or the director is not all that great or I don’t know…whatever you can feel in that moment, it’s your duty to try and elevate it as much as you can. There’s never been a moment in my life on the set where I felt like giving up. You always try and it doesn’t always work out. We all know that some movies come out better than others. But you have to try, like sometimes even harder because of it.
About IN THE FADE:
Tattooed, street-smart Katja, her ex-con Kurdish-German husband Nuri, and their young bespectacled violin-playing son Rocco might seem at first glance like an atypical family, but in a few short scenes we come to understand the messy and beautiful reality of their life. So when sudden tragedy strikes in the form of a bombing, the impact is all the more profound. Katja now finds herself alone, facing grief and menacing probing from authorities and family alike. Seeking relief, she turns to drugs and the thought of what her husband might do in her place. Wrestling between fragile moments of self-destruction and those of unwavering commitment to avenging the death of her family, Katja’s love for Nuri and Rocco is never far away – and neither is her pain.
Akin’s tightly crafted script complements IN THE FADE’s sober color palette, while cinematographer Rainer Klausmann’s emotive images reflect Katja’s evolving mood. Acting in her native German, and in her first German production, Kruger delivers a fearless, gut-wrenching and award-winning performance that will surely be talked about in the months to come.