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Updated: October 24, 2012 17:15 IST

The right frames

Liza George
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Armin Franzen
Photo: Liza George
The Hindu Armin Franzen Photo: Liza George

Armin Franzen, a Director of Photography who has won several awards for his work

“I have been working like crazy shooting ads for Chevrolet and an ad for an Indian stock broker company the last few weeks and needed a break,” says German Director of Photography Armin Franzen.

Armin was in the city on holiday with a couple of his friends. Dressed in a white t-shirt and khaki pants, a glass of fizzy drink beside him, Armin does indeed look as if he is on holiday, as he relaxes at Essence, a sea-facing restaurant at Surya Samudra, Mulloor.

“I just completed a yoga session at the spa. It felt great as I could feel the knots in my body loosen,” he says.

Lunch is placed before him – a Kerala non-vegetarian thali. And as he tucks into his sumptuous meal, he answers questions about his work.

A rebel during his teen years, Armin says he wanted to break free from the conforms of society. “I grew up in a small village in Germany where most people led dual lives. They pursued their professions by day and their interests by night. I didn’t want that. I wanted a profession where I could be myself throughout the day.”

Undecided as which line of job he should pursue, it was chance that led him to films. “I started out as an extra in TV soaps.” And despite me pestering for names of the soaps, he politely refuses to divulge any.

“The point is,” he says, dodging my pestering, “My knowledge of cinematography and its intricacies were nil when I joined the field. However, I soon grew curious and joined the film school in Germany.”

While in film school, Armin did a movie called Kronos as a project. The film fused mythology with the real world. “It was about a family, the sole survivors during an apocalypse. When they discovered that they were the only ones, the power equation in the family shifted.”

Kronos won him accolades and awards. “It won me ‘the’ German cinematography award for feature film. I was surprised as the award never ever goes to newcomers, let alone students.”

The award, which served as a morale booster, led to Armin working on several other feature films like The Colour of the Ocean and Flowers of Evil and winning more awards for some of them. “I love working on feature films as I can replicate the real world onto reel. I can also meet a lot of people, explore new cultures, travel… as part of my work. I also enjoy getting to know the characters in my movies,” says this film maker, who admits that he is a different person when he is working on a film. “People around me say I act like a man possessed,” he says with a grin.

The latest movie, Armin has shot is Kurnaz, which is a true story about a falsely accused man who was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for five years.

The man who has done movies for children would like to do action films too. “Till recently, I wasn’t too big on action flicks and wasn’t too confident about shooting one. Now, however, I am game to take one on.”

The filmmaker who enjoys reading admits that although he brought a book with him to read while on this trip, he hasn’t started going through it yet. “I have been busy enjoying my holiday here. I have been here three days now and they seem to have flown by so fast. I love the food I have had so far, although I am not sure if the dishes are ethnic and have been enjoying the Ayurveda massages offered at the spa as well.”

So, what are his plans? “Well, I tend to go with the flow, so I don’t really know. But I have a feeling I will be coming back to Kerala soon.”

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