Interview with Petja Pulkrabek (Director)
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE FACTORY DROP?
Factory Drop was inspired by various sources. For one, I've been fascinated by the science fiction cinema of the 1970s and 1980s since my childhood, with its grim and expressive visions of the future. I wanted to capture this aesthetic and atmosphere in my film. Additionally, silent film classics like Modern Times or Metropolis have inspired me. I love silent films, and from the beginning, it was my goal to create a film without dialogue. One of my favorite movies is Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, with its minimal dialogue and strong visual presentation, ranks as one of the most significant films of all time for me. I'm fascinated by films that affect more through their mood and cinematic direction than through words. Other cinematic models for Factory Drop include Snow Piercer and visually also very much Brazil by Terry Gilliam. One of my favorite movies is Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Trier. The fact that Factory Drop incorporates elements of dance film certainly has to do with that. I'm actually not a fan of musicals or dance films, but Dancer in the Dark has always deeply moved and inspired me.
WHAT CENTRAL THEMES DO YOU WANT TO ADDRESS WITH THIS SHORT FILM?
The idea for this short film originally came during the Corona-Lockdown. At that time, we were all severely restricted, and it was difficult to meet, have fun together, or go to the movies, concerts, or dancing. The loss of art and culture preoccupied me a lot during this period. I often thought about cinematic dystopias like 1984, in which people are robbed of their freedom. And so the story of Factory Drop evolved for me as a bleak vision of the future.
The entire film takes place in a high-rise building with multiple floors. At the bottom, workers toil away, producing diamonds. Emotions are not allowed here and are strictly monitored. In the upper floors of the building lives a decadent upper class, leading a luxurious life at the expense of the workers. The entire house is connected by pipes, and one day, a musical music box from the upper class ends up in the lower class, and the workers discover for the first time the wonder of music and dance. While the film transports you to a fictional and expressively depicted world, it reflects the sad fact that we live in a divided world. We all know the numbers about the richest 10 percent of the population owning nearly all the world's wealth.
WHAT SPECIAL FILM TECHNIQUES OR STYLES DID YOU USE TO CREATE THE ATMOSPHERE AND MOOD OF THE FUTURE WORLD IN FACTORY DROP?
During the preparations for our short film, many advised me to shoot the film using green screen or LED screens in the studio, as is now common in the science fiction field. I never intended to do that, but at some point we realized that the world we want to create might be too complicated and laborious for real replicas. We also had enormous problems finding suitable locations to present this world. It was an incredible stroke of luck that set designer Dennis Stöcker then joined the team. He found the suitable location, and together with set designer Lena Schønemann, created an impressive science-fiction world - all without green screen, LED screens, or studios. This was a tremendous gain for the film. It feels completely different for everyone involved when you're shooting in a real environment, so to speak, in the film world itself.
The first day of shooting was an experience I will never forget. The team had already built and crafted a lot at our main location before the shoot began. Everyone was incredibly creative. At the time, I was bedridden with the flu and only hoped that I would be fit in time for shooting. We couldn't postpone the start date, and at the same time, I didn't want to tell the team that I was sick to avoid causing confusion. Fortunately, I managed to get back on my feet just in time, and when I saw the incredible scenario with props, lighting, costumes, and makeup on set, I was the happiest person in the world. The craeted vision of this film is a tremendous achievement by an incredible team. We were fortunate to have one of Germany's best cinematographers on board—Monika Plura. And Monika was, by the way, eight months pregnant during the shooting but still had tremendous energy, or perhaps because of that. Together with Tobias Meik, they created incredibly expressive images that perfectly captured Michael "Muck" Kremtz's particularly atmospheric lighting design.
HOW DID YOU BALANCE ENTERTAINMENT AND THE CONVEYANCE OF SOCIAL ISSUES IN THE FILM?
I wanted to tell a captivating story with strong images that would transport viewers into another world. The topics addressed in the film are personally very important to me. When writing, I deliberately tried to be not just rational but also emotional. My goal was to convey my own feelings through this film.
The film addresses social injustice. It's frustrating how hard some people work and struggle, while others lead a carefree life on the backs of others. The fact that we live our Western prosperity at the expense of the weaker is a painful reality.
Furthermore, the film is about the feeling that emotions, art, music, and dance are essential for us as humans and should never be suppressed. These creative forms of expression have a transformative power and can give us hope and light in a dark world. Even in the midst of darkness, there is always a glimmer of hope.
Photo by: Filip Misiak Orestes