Our interview with Jon Watzlawick, a photographer, director, writer and all round creative, originally from Germany. Jon works in black and white or soft, muted colour, taking intimate photos that celebrate natural beauty and the female form.
"WHEREVER I GO AND WHATEVER I DO, I SEE THE WORLD AS A MOVIE"
Do you think that Film is truly still alive?
“Shooting film is like a sister. I never grew up with a sister, but film is my imaginary eldest one. Picking on me, but teaching me how to love. And, like every beauty of this world, film will live until the last one forgets about its magic. My grandpa always told me “If you truly believe in something, if you truly love someone, you’ll always find a way.” So let’s find a way to stay beautiful happy fools and keep this magnifying bitch alive.”
What inspired you to pick up a film camera? Do you shoot digital too?
“I have always been an old soul stumbling through this new world. Connected to old music, old films, words, photographs and manners. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time with my beloved grandfather when I grew up -- Sneaking up on his office door, watching him through the keyhole writing letters on his old black continental typewriter. I admired him, hitting the big, heavy keys with such joy. I always had a camera in my hand. Mostly video when I grew up. Running in my denim overall, at the age of four with a big smile and wild blond hair, through the living room and filming everything that felt just right for me.
I’ve been exclusively shooting film for two or three years now, developing mostly on my own, scanning on my own, and working as much offline as possible. But I have also spent a lot of my time using digital cameras, to grow and work commercial-wise. There is no right or wrong, it’s just about whatever feels the greatest for you.”
What do you do when you feel a lack of inspiration?
“You just have to work through it! Inspiration is something you can’t control, but what I’ve learned is, that when you truly commit and put the work in and keep on creating, write and write and write until no words are left, or pick up the camera and shoot, take your guitar and play, your paper and paint, inspiration will come. For sure! It will reward you like a big smiling penguin, sliding your way on its belly.”
I noticed that you also make films, can you tell me a little about this too?
"Making movies, or writing screenplays - creating - is like my big first love in summer camp. We all have one big talent in life. Maybe we can do a lot of things pretty pretty good - but one thing without question - comes with such ease, and that’s our biggest talent. For me it’s been always canoeing, but in the creative world it’s probably filmmaking that comes the closest to it.
Wherever I go and whatever I do, I see the world as a movie. I even see my own life as a movie and try to be the hero in my own story. Always on the bottom, gasping for the big dream. Not to be dramatic, over-romantic or just someone you have to pretend to be. No, it’s more like the beauty of reaching heaven, of moving pictures and dialogue. Framing your own emotions in such ways that you can transfer it into the heart of someone else. Even if it sounds kinda soppy when I put it like that.
But it’s all way harder than it looks, it is a big mess going into the process. A lot of things to deal with, a lot of pressure and later on – as the story goes on – you can crystalize the details of your characters. You can outline her real self-existence. The reader or watcher may receive the “punch of the story’’ and the actual content of its characters which are conjured up right before the end."
Are there any quotes/inspirational words that resonate with you?
"F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: “I learned a little about beauty -- enough to know that it has nothing to do with truth”."
How has travelling between countries affected your career? Is it something that you'd recommend?
"My life is build around work, and my work is built around my life. I don’t separate these two. Everything I do, everything I create is part of both worlds. I’m within and without at the same time. I mostly don’t travel - I move around. It’s the same with me and vacations, I never go and hang for no reason. I enjoy life in it’s fullest wherever I am and wherever I go - I always move with the need of creating something beautiful.
But of course. There are times in which I spent a lot of moments in airplanes or traveling to get to Jobs. For me, it’s part of my life. I need to be on the move, whenever I spend too much time in one place, I start to feel restless. But I guess that will change once I’m starting to grow white hair."