“​Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls​.” -Ingmar Berman

Interview Ben Schaub


Ben Schaub is a 19 year old director and filmmaker who grew up in a small town in northern Germany. Having no television at home in his childhood led to a big fascination for film when he got older and got to know the possibilities and impact of this medium consciously. While finishing High school in 2019 Ben started to create Video Commercials as part of a small team with varied tasks. In 2020 he directed and produced his two short film debuts “Black Sleep” and “Weltschmerz” and started to work with Nico Semsrott’s Team on several projects as a Trainee.

Where did the idea for Black Sleep come from?

As this short wasn’t written by me, but by Scott Nelson in 2018, I can’t really answer that question. I chose it, because – although it was not written in 2020 – it really picked up on many themes and feelings that this pandemic has caused. Some of them being loneliness, uncertainty, confinement and loss. Feelings that spread everywhere at the same time.

These similarities between a fictitious situation and our reality during this global pandemic really fascinated me. And in addition to that the script was relatively easy to implement because of its simplicity. Everything just seemed to fit perfectly.



What did inspire you to talk about those feelings?

An inner conviction and the undeniable outer influences of the corona pandemic.

I think that it’s important to thematize negative emotions and topics. Because suppressing them won’t do any good. This is the topic of the other short film named “Weltschmerz” we executed simultaneously.

We have to face our emotions, also negative ones. And when they grow, like they did for almost everyone this year, even more.

Just by watching films you automatically think and reflect on the displayed topics. And so do I by making and directing them.

Therefore I admire filmmakers that manage to combine entertainment with difficult social issues. One big and to me inspirational example for this is “Mr Robot” by Sam Esmail.



How do you define your style of direction?

As I started out by doing everything myself I am still very invested in every part of the process and like to plan and communicate a lot. This is extremely important to me as every parameter perceived by the audience should serve the story or idea that we’re trying to communicate. Some simpler ones of these decisions in Black Sleep’s case were the 4:3 aspect ratio and lack of multiple colors and music to support the feeling of imprisonment and dreariness as well as the decreasing amount of cuts as the short evolves to show the protagonists fading energy.

I also prefer having a clear plan in advance as it forces you to get creative before shooting and think everything through. Even without using it in the end you can adapt more easily to problems (which always occur) and spontaneous situations.



Do you have any future projects?

Making these shorts showed me how much you can achieve even without a budget especially when working together with as great people as I had the pleasure to film with. Therefore there are a lot of things planned that go into various directions and that we’ll continue to work on as soon as this virus lets us.

If you want to stay up to date you can follow me on instagram (@benqueez) and visit my website benschaub.de to find other work.