Film-maker, director and writer Close-Up Schott
Most well-known in Namibia for his film 'Katutura', Schott is a passionate creative who's constantly contributing to the film industry. Often the man behind the scenes, The Weekender looks at the life of Schott with jump-cuts, flashbacks and of course the close-up.
Born and raised in Essen, Germany, Schott grew up with two older sisters. His parents were both pharmacists. “As the youngest child, I think I had the most freedom to explore what I wanted to do with my time, which eventually led to my love for stories and cinema,” the director says.
Schott has always been interested in entertaining and telling stories. As a young boy, becoming a magician was on his agenda. “I wanted to 'wow' the people around me,” he says. “When I was 11 years old, my father 'smuggled' me into a cinema screening of ‘Jurassic Park’, which was only for people 12 years and older. And with that, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to tell stories. Create worlds and characters and situations for audiences that might not exist in real life,” the film enthusiast adds.
After meeting his wife Cherlien at a film shoot, the director made the switch from Germany to Namibia and has been living in the country for the past decade. Schott's been honing his craft and building his name in showbiz since 2002 and has worked as a first assistant director in Europe, South America, Antarctica and Africa, naturally.
The director's hard work has been paying off – his projects are often awarded and screened at various film festivals internationally.
YouTube viewer Rosy Henschel was 'wowed' by the film. She posted: "I'm speechless. [I] didn't know we have such products. Well done and keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing.” Benyamen Jesaya echoed her sentiments, saying: “This is a good thing. Talent in the Land of the Brave”.
Two years later, the film-maker co-wrote and directed his debut feature film, 'Katutura', also starring Tshoopara. The film, produced by Tulinane Entertainment, was shot on location in Windhoek's Katutura township and focused on various characters, and has become one of the country's most successful films.
This year, Schott took up a similar role while working on the short 'Baxu and the Giants'. The film won best production design by Tanya Stroh, best editor by Roberts Scott, and best female actor for the young Camilla Jo-Ann Daries at the NTFAs.
With various other projects in development and also directing for German television, just how does he juggle his demanding profession with his personal life? “Hardly. It’s not always easy. Luckily my wife knows that I am married to her and to film,” he says, adding that he tries to keep Sundays sacred for family time, spending the evenings with his spouse.
Schott mentions that at the moment, film-makers pay the cast and crew under their worth, and brings up the question: How can we sustain writers and directors with budgets that aren't fit for a proper development process?
“The next step – in my opinion – is finding uniquely Namibian stories that can still sell internationally, so that in future, we have the chance to work with international partners and get funding for our films outside of the country as well.”
“But in the end it really – with any project I do – comes down to me asking myself if I would watch that film or television series if it didn’t come from me. Would I be excited about it, would I get up and pay money to go see this particular story at the cinema? If the answer is 'yes', because I haven’t seen a story like this or a story that has been told this way yet, then I can only hope that other people feel the same way about this story too and might connect with the stories I tell,” Schott says.
With a finger in countless creative pies, he says he tries to constantly explore new stories until one speaks to his inner creative as the one that he should do next, given opportunities for funding. “I'm very excited about three feature films I’m developing. One is a true-life, survival thriller set in the Sahara Desert that I’ve been developing since 2014. Now I’m working on an urban female-centric action film, and another one is a romance story that explores Namibian myths and fables, exploring the importance of storytelling.
"And I am very excited about a mini-series that is truly a Namibian story, set in the 1980s, that I am researching and plotting right now.”