In its continuing series Director’s Corner, kaboom productions presents a Q&A with director Christian Riebe, whose blend of intimacy and precision allows him to bring out the best in a brand’s story.  

What do you love most about directing?
The biggest pleasure is working as a team with creative people. Again and again, I am astonished by the colleagues I meet when I travel around the world. To see these people contributing their amazing talent to put creative vision into reality is something very humbling. The time I get to spend with these people might be very limited but I am truly happy to call many of them my friends.

You have an innate ability to work with kids – what is the secret to getting a natural performance?
First of all I treat children with the same respect as adults. Kids thrive when they feel like they are contributing and I fully encourage them to do so. The most important thing is to channel their natural energy. With kids it’s even more crucial to see the energy needed for the scene during auditions. Casting a child just for the look and then hoping for a miracle on set has great potential for failure. Just like working with professional actors I create an atmosphere on set where the kids can let their guard down and start having fun. That’s when the magic starts happening.

In your spots, the brand is seamlessly integrated into the narrative. Why is this a priority and how do you ensure it feels effortless?
Nobody is keen to take a bite from a piece of plastic. When it comes to working on tabletop my main goal is to make the audience feel like, “Yum! I want to have a taste of that.” I believe that is best achieved by creating a natural integration, where the audience feels connected and thinks, “I could do this right now at home.” Though every job is different I tend to stick to the approach not to overthink the food shots. I encourage the talent to handle the product as naturally as possible while I make sure it looks great. As a result, the performances and the food shots amplify each other and create a natural flow and the film feels much more effortless.

What’s the biggest difference between your life in Europe and your life in the US?
Growing up in Europe I am surely rooted in the culture but at the same time I have been mainly socialized with US films, music and sports. So being in the US comes with a
strange mixed feeling of discovering something new that feels very familiar at the same time. Oddly enough, I am still excited when I hear American police sirens because it gives me the feeling that I am walking through a movie. One can understand a lot about the difference between the US and Europe by looking at the label on a bottle of wine:

What kind of project do you most enjoy directing?
In simple terms: Whatever I am directing right now. Creating a playful and energetic environment, and the responsibility in going beyond ordinary process of filmmaking to engage viewers in story. Not that I specifically look for it, but I appreciate the moments when things do not quite go as planned, when there are elements of surprise. Keeping my calm when things get hectic, then finding solutions and delivering a great film, is a very satisfying experience.

Who was the biggest influence in your early career?
Caspar Trop was an artist who lived and worked in France and maybe the most intelligent and beautiful mind I have ever encountered. He encouraged me to see past the obvious choices in life. So I dropped my calculator and picked up a photo camera. Looking back, that’s how it all started.

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