Lukas Felix Pohl, welcome to CWFF. Congratulations for your Nominee status in the Best Travel Film category for “Arrival”. This mind-blowing short is peppered with stunning shots. It looks like a cross between a kitesurfing road movie and an existential documentary on extreme sports! Congratulations also for picking the theme of traveling. We like your “not too complex philosophical self-examination”! They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Is this a rule of thumb for life do you think? And how important is the sea, especially for someone like you who was born in a “landlocked country”?
I think the idea I wanted to convey with “ARRIVAL” is that basically, the beautiful and important things about life need time to unfold. In my film I deal with this thought process in relation to traveling and my perception of the environment. But the same is true, of course, for other important and ever-changing building blocks of our lives, such as identity, friends, partners, relationships, and love.
So yes, I guess you could call it a rule of thumb. With its constant movement, the sea is a symbol of uninterrupted change and infinite snapshots of the now. In the water and under water I find peace. You can literally drift in nature. And although at the moment, mankind is giving the oceans a hard time, they continue to be the least touched place on our planet.
Many films and documentaries have already touched on the importance of capturing the moment. Who does not remember this scene in Bohemian Rhapsody when Freddie Mercury’s character says: "Being human is a condition which requires an anesthetic”.
Do you have key inspirations you would like to share, or cinema moments and influences?
I love telling stories. That's why my film is called “ARRIVAL - a little Film Story”. Because it is more a philosophical fictional narration than a docu. My passion is fiction. From this perspective, I would say that I am strongly inspired by the storytelling of the Coen brothers. In "The Hudsucker Proxy" from 1994, there is the scene where the hula-hoop rolls independently to success. On the one hand, the story is being told by the narrator, but on the other hand, it creates a feeling of independence from the narrator. I think that's ingenious in essence.
In her book Empty Roads & Broken Bottles: in search for The Great Perhaps, Charlotte Eriksson who went on “A journey about self-discovery, learning solitude, the difference between having a home and feeling at home and finally, slowly, finding a home in oneself” and spent a year homeless on the road, wrote “There’s something about arriving in new cities, wandering empty streets with no destination. I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I'm born to leave”. Does this resonate with you? Can this “tug a war” between arriving and leaving ever be resolved?
First of all, I would say that a "tug a war" is not the right expression for this. Because on the one hand, it implies that arriving and leaving would have to be “at war" with each other. On the other hand, it would mean that these two variables are directly related to one another. I haven't read Charlotte Eriksson's book, so I don't know what conclusions she draws, but "finding a home in oneself" sounds relatable. If I had to cut it down to short, I would roughly say that arriving is an inner process that has to do with being calm, being aware, listening, being able to commit to something, and similar topics.
If this is already difficult for us in relation to ourselves, either because we are afraid or because we did not learn it as children, then it is even more difficult to implement it on the outside. Leaving, in turn, has to do with issues such as closing off and leaving behind, but also running away and looking away, and thus perhaps repressing as well. So, I’d say "conflict" fits better than "war" here. This conflict does not take place between arriving and leaving, but between aspects of our selves that run much deeper.
Can spending time away from the rat race be considered a must-do to gain life skills before entering said “rat race”? And how much has work changed since the pandemic and digital nomadism?
To make a long story short: I think that taking time out can be a means of realizing that what many of us – I'm speaking primarily from my own experience as a child of Western culture – have learned about life and how it should be is in fact a rat race. This is something that, frankly, we should never get involved in, because life is not about being first or being better. Perhaps the pandemic and the accompanying changes in life and work have helped many to see this more clearly. It certainly did it for me, but it took a lot of pain for me to figure it out.
What is the link between your profession and this voyage to free the mind? Has it helped you achieve the right balance?
My mind is a non-stop, high-speed thinking machine that sometimes makes life difficult for me. But also, it is at the core of my creative and professional output. In this sense, everything that can bring some peace into it, including such a voyage, has been helpful.
Lukas, you say that “staying is close to settling” and that “settling can be quite frightening”. More than coming of age, do you believe mindfulness, i.e., being aware of our sensations and surroundings, can be a cure and an alternative to our superfast and self-centered way of living? Can centennials and everyone else understand that personal growth is based on recognizing that there’s life outside socials and personal branding?
I am a big advocate of mindfulness and think it is neither cure nor alternative but a kind of inner tool that can help us navigate and achieve contentment in our modern, complex, and fast-paced world. Being born into our world, and especially being a human being with complex thinking, that is about the same as if a baby was thrown into a space shuttle – the brain – right after birth.
Thousands of buttons and a complex external world to navigate, to fly through. If you don't get the right guidance from your parents and society, you come up against many external obstacles, over and over again. These are, for example, socials and personal branding in our modern times. I myself continued navigating and crashing until it hurt so much that I had to change something. And I am not alone. Unfortunately, few have the right guidance nowadays, because our materialistic world is not interested in creating contentment but in unrestrained progress. I found mindfulness at a very late stage and can only recommend it. If you don't do it yet, at least have a look at it.
Your life is no doubt teeming with new projects. Any upcoming cinema adventures?
We are currently fine-tuning our next fictional short film. It is produced by the film production company Cinewerk in Cologne, and we are already planning the next film project. As a director and creative director, I work with this same production company and the associated agency, Le Werk, but also with other agencies and advertising film productions on commercials and other film projects. I also make music and will release my first album at the end of 2023. Of course, music videos will be shot for it. It is hard to keep a balance. I have to practice that.
And finally, what is your vision of post-Covid cinema in a short statement?
With Covid and the rise of streaming networks, we've seen a huge increase in film content on these platforms. Unfortunately, quality came up short. I myself discontinued my accounts on Netflix and Amazon because most movie nights always ended in frustration and despair. The same has happened to many of my friends and acquaintances. The problem is that the businesspeople in the background work a lot with standardization and optimization and create movies in a business-like way.
Take your 20 favorite action movies and create a script that reflects an average storyline. This means the end of creativity and passion in filmmaking. And it can't work like that. Movies live from the lifeblood and love of their creators. But if we let them create more freely, we'll see real innovation in filmmaking again. In this way, films can surprise, inspire us again and be new. And I think that in the near future, the streaming networks will realize this as well. Maybe this could be an opportunity for newcomers.
Lukas Felix Pohl
Film director, writer and creative director for films and commercials.
Lukas Felix Pohl was born in Cologne, Germany, in 1991, and grew up as a city kid doing what teenagers do. He also started making movies. He is a good storyteller and knows how to entertain people. Like his friends, for example, which he left behind in 2010 when he was 19 to see more of the world.
He lived in Canada and the US for a year and then studied in Austria, Spain and the Netherlands, while working in the film and advertising industry as a concept designer, film director, cameraman and editor all over Germany in the various places he studied at. Some of his creations were shown at several small-scale international film festivals. After graduating with honors from his master's program, he worked as a freelance film director, concept developer and producer in advertising and content creation.
In 2018, what had been sprouting for a while as an idea called "Cinewerk" materialized as a production company. Together, Lukas Felix Pohl and his partners Cem-Pierre Schuch and Philipp Maxhofer have been creating commercials, films and much more. At the beginning of 2021, they separated the agency business from that of their production company Cinewerk, with a new brand called "Le Werk" . He stepped down as executive creative lead at the end of 2022 to focus on his personal film projects, and work as a freelance director, writer and creative director.
Lukas Felix Pohl also supported the international agency Merkle as a creative consultant & creator, concept developer and film director (2019-2021). There, he created effective, comprehensive advertising campaigns and films for international companies such as Siemens, Nivea, Volkswagen, Zehnder and others.
From the end of 2021, his first narrative documentary, "The Power Reset" (German original title: "Alles auf Grün") has been screening internationally on Amazon Prime Video.
2023 / "Aktiv gegen Beinschmerzen" / commercial / for REVITIVE
2022 / "ARRIVAL - a little film story" / short film
2022 / "Green", "Coral", "Cowgirls" / fashion films / for STREETONE
2021 / "The Power Reset (German title: Alles auf Grün)" / narrative documentary / on AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
2021 / "Fresh Air. Fresh Mind." / dance commercial spots / for ZEHNDER GROUP
2020 / "C'est ton Moment" / commercial / for NIVEA
2020 / "DreaMobility" / commercial / for SIEMENS
2019 / "Yourself" / commercial / for NORTH
© ITW 2023 Isabelle Rouault-Röhlich