THE COMMON GOOD, 17min., Austria
Directed by Stefan Gutternigh, Eva Amann
In 2035 the earth is ruled by a world government called "The Global Organisation for the Common Good". The "GOCG" wants to make everybody happy by monitoring the desires of its citizens with social media, omnipresent cameras, surveillance drones and - for those who can afford them - body implants. We join "GOCG" agent Cindy Karuso as she is visiting Mr. Berger, who has not spent his designated quota for lifestyle and entertainment products for the past months. Will she manage to complete her task for the mother-state and the father-corporation by taking care of Mr. Berger? And will Mr. Berger have something to say within the process?
Get to know the filmmaker Stefan Gutternigh:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
"The Common Good“ sums up many of my political views in a creative way. I wanted to create a modern take on classic dystopian stories like „1984" for the smartphone generation. There is much discussion concerning left or right, religious, social and political systems. The human component is neglected for the most part. A system, an ideology or a religion can not kill someone, this is done by people acting in its name. I have been wondering for a long time how the mind of people like dictators or their sidekicks such as gulag or concentration camp leaders works. How can people, who commit the most cruel crimes against mankind, justify their actions? How can they sleep at night? How can they still be kind to their own families? It does not matter which political or social system we have, if it is led by egoistic, narcissistic people. We need to find a way to prevent this. We need to discuss relevant topics and listen to each other in order to discover things in common, instead of being prisoners of some kind of ideology and its thought patterns. I have always liked films which have a message and are entertaining at the same time, "The island“ from 2005 with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson is a perfect example of this in my opinion. I wanted to do something similar, so there are nice visuals and some humor in our film, but it hopefully leaves the audience with some food for thought.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I actually wrote the script for "The Common Good“ in 2011, but didn’t have the knowledge or means to turn it into a film back then. It’s amazing how far technology has come over the past decade. You can really do cinematic stuff with limited budget and affordable gear now that was only possible with big budgets 10-15 years ago. In 2016 I wanted to do a short comic book after the Kickstarter success of my first comic book "Pest 1435“, which had 170 pages. So I turned my short film script "The Common Good“ into a comic book. Since the audience loved it, I wrote two sequels, "Nothing to Hide“ and "Truth Hurts“. All three of them form a complete storyline now. Since about 2019 two colleagues at work/friends of mine, Ivo Apollonio and Roman Keller, and myself were often talking about doing an artistic film project for fun to get a break from the more commercial work we do to earn money. I suggested we turn my finished script/comic book „The Common Good“ into a short film, since it doesn’t feature too many locations and can be done with limited budget. My wife Eva Amann, who previously directed another short film and a long documentary also wanted to help. It all came together in early 2022, when we found the perfect actress for Cindy with Bety Aubrechtova and we got the opportunity to use a beautiful flat in central Vienna for the home of Mr. Berger. I noticed that in many Science Fiction films/series the flats are often stylish, fancy locations, even if the characters living in them are portrayed as not so wealthy. We also wanted to work with Luke von Geusau for a while, since we met him at Filmfestival Kitzbühel in Austria. Since were shooting during the pandemic, we wanted to keep the crew as small as possible, so I decided to play Mr. Berger myself. I shaped this character after myself anyway. The time was right, we had everything we needed so we started filming in November 2022.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
It took us a while to find an actress for the main character Cindy Karuso. She has a lot of complicated dialog that needs to be delivered with the right attitude. Since we operated on extremely low budget, we couldn’t do extensive casting. In the end we were lucky to find Bety and she did a perfect job. In the final stages of post production we had some trouble bringing the color grading and the effects together, but nothing we couldn’t overcome by throwing more of our spare time at the problem.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was very happy to get such positive feedback. I was smiling the whole time while I watched it and shared it with my team immediately.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
It was always important to me to tell stories visually, regardless of the media. I started with drawings/comics. In the past decade the advancements of technology have made it possible to deliver great looking films with limited budgets, that’s when I started to think that I could do that too.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably "Alien II“ by James Cameron. Great design, effects, plot, cinematography and an awesome cast, from Sigourney Weaver to every supporting actor. Almost every marine has personality and you feel sorry for everyone who is lost to the Xenomorphs.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I really loved the feedback video. After all that hard work it was great to see people reacting to our film. I wish more festivals would do something like that.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It’s a great platform that lets us submit to a lot of different, international festivals. Since I’m doing this beside my day job for now, I would not have the time to fill out a different form for every festival.
10. What is your favorite meal?
11. What is next for you? A new film?
After a year of submitting "The Common Good“ to festivals, the plan is to look for a production company or streaming service who would fund a feature film based on all three "The Common Good“ comic books. With hopefully many more awards, positive audience feedback and the three successful Kickstarter campaigns for the three books I hope some sponsor will see the potential of my story.