Michael Bohnenstingl's animated film SLOUCH addresses the question of whether great art can only emerge from moments of deepest crisis. "The most beautiful flowers grow on shit," claims Nuffti. He is the little personal demon of the main character Slouch, a frustrated musician who lives with his girlfriend in his garage and dreams of his big breakthrough. When this actually happens, the problems (fortunately) don't stop.
Interview with Michael Bohnenstingl
Dear Michael, do you need crises to be creative or how did the story idea for SLOUCH come about?
It emerged when I myself had a personal and artistic crisis. During my studies in Ludwigsburg, I also made a lot of music with my band in our rehearsal room in the barracks. We often talked about the origins of creativity and asked ourselves why so many artists are so terribly fucked up and whether a happy, healthy life can really be a hindrance. That's how the foundation for the film's content finally came into being.
You are a musician yourself. How autobiographical is the film?
Sure, a director usually can't hide in his work. And of course, my music plays an important role. Basically, the film accompanied me in answering some questions I had about artistic creation, but also about life in general. However, what works well and is right for a story doesn't have to work one-to-one in your own life.
At 18 minutes, SLOUCH is quite long for a graduation film. In animation, that means a lot of work in a relatively short amount of time. Speaking of opportunities through crises... Were you able to put in that much time through the lockdowns?
Yes, it really was a lot of work! But I actually work in such a way that I first develop the story. The length that it takes to get it done is determined from there. I always try not to limit myself in that regard first. I also had help from a great team. For example, Julia Skala and Oleg Stezenko designed the sets and backgrounds. Christian Kaufmann then built them in Cinema 4D. This allowed me to focus on mise-en-scène and editing. It's true though. Because of the pandemic, I wasn't able to do a lot of things I normally would have done alongside my studies and therefore, I had the time I needed.
A few years ago, you worked for Studio Soi in Ludwigsburg. Among other things, you wrote and directed the ZDF children's series PETZI. How does that work differ from an indie film like SLOUCH?
Actually, not that much. It basically doesn't matter if I'm telling a story about friendship or about failure in a film. The story has to be good. Of course, there are other conditions in terms of budget, timeline, resources or teams. At Animationsinstitut, we are given a lot of freedom. We are fully supported in implementing our own ideas in the projects. In the best-case scenario – as Andreas Hykade once told us – Animationsinstitut becomes a place where we surpass ourselves.
You find more about Michael on his Website.