Artist Statement - Sebastian Schnabel

I write and direct narrative short and feature films that challenge the viewer’s perception and understanding of the world. What actually is the thing we consider to be normal or true; and can we trust it? I want to twist the viewer’s mind, which is why I call my production company MindTwist. Through those mind twists, I want to address issues in our society. My films look below the surface and behind the masks of our personalities. I draw inspiration from dreams and psychoanalysis. I am fascinated by the way humans deal with their own personality and sexuality; and the persona they show to others around them.
I always include certain shots in my films that have little movement and almost feel like they are a painting. I use them as symbolic images that sum up a certain theme or idea in the film. For this I draw inspiration from the photography of Gregory Crewdson. The symbolic and somewhat narrative moments that Crewdson is so impactful staging in his photography, seem to be frozen in time and symbolize a psychological state of a character or comment on an aspect of our society. David Lynch, Charlie Kaufman and Wong Kar-Wai are other inspirations to me in the way they break up the conventional narrative structure. They are not afraid to surprise us, which is a goal I am also always striving for. If to many films follow the same conventional narrative structure, audiences will one day grow tired of it. Audiences need to be surprised, that is why I love to play with their expectations and then turn those upside down.
The newest challenge I have given myself is to make every shot in the film in some way visually intriguing. A lot of films have way too many shots that are just visually boring and uninteresting. This usually happens in dialogue scenes, where the filmmakers seem to focus only on getting information across rather than making every shot an artwork by itself. I want my films to be accessible and entertaining to most audiences, but my ultimate goal is to challenge viewers and trigger them to seriously think about the topic of the film. I consider my work most successful when an audience has enjoyed watching it, but also engaged in a heated discussion afterwards.