NPO Doc interview: Schwör

02 06 2014

NPO Doc interview: Schwör

This week you can enjoy our last NPO Doc of the season. In our interview with Lea Becker, she gives some insights in the making of her documentary.

Click here for the screening times.

1. Schwör is a documentary about the friendship of three teenagers. Did you know the boys before you came op with the idea for this documentary?

Yes. At the time of shooting I had known the boys for about 1,5 years because I was doing a project at their school with the social worker. They spent quite a lot of time with me and I really liked them and the way their friendship worked so I asked them if I could make a film about that.



2. The three boys have a different ethnical background. Did you specifically want to make a film about ethnic differences?

No, actually I don't really see that as an important part of the film, although it's what people usually comment on first. Instead I wanted to focus on their friendship. I am of course aware that their close-knit friendship is also a result of having different backgrounds and needing to find a way to fit into society. 

3. It seems like the kids don’t pay any attention to the camera and just behave like they would do if there weren’t a camera. Was there a difference in the kids’ behaviour when the camera was switched off?

The cinematographer and I have always been very proud to get this response. Yes, all three of them seem to forget we're there and I really like that. I believe it's because they'd known me for a while and because Dino (the cinematographer) and I had spent some time together with them in advance of shooting to take pictures and just to hang out. 

When we shot the film we spent long days together but we only actually shot 30 minutes in total cause we only had three rolls of film. So we only let the camera roll when we felt they were acting authentically. During editing I cut out the very silly moments, which I saw as performances for the camera. 

4. Schwör is a very observing documentary, without a real narrative. What made you decide to choose for this approach?

The way I saw their friendship was that a lot of the time they just hung out. Nothing special happened, nothing that would make for a classic narrative. They often just passed time. That's the feeling that I wanted to record and for the viewers to be part of. Days are long, filled with similar activities like hanging out at the same old youth centre, having a kebab or going shopping in places that are actually too expensive. 

5. The film lacks a narrative and is shot in black and white, while you focus on a group of kids who all have a different ethnic background. I won’t be the first who saw a comparison with La Haine (The Hate), a film by Matthieu Kassovitz. Has this film been an inspiration for your documentary?

When Dino and I were discussing the look of the film we did look at La Haine, which I like very much. But we also looked at 'The 400 blows' which is something completely different but interested us stylistically. The look of the film is dominated by the use of black and white film which is the rule for the first film at my university. You get three rolls (which means you can shoot 30 minutes only) and an old Arri Sr2 16mm camera and off you go. It's great to have these restrictions. 

The reason there were three is literally just because these three boys have been best friends all their lives so I wanted to capture that.


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