German filmmaker Daniel Freytag: ‘I can get more things done as a creative all-rounder’

There are no negligible areas in film production – everything must be neat for the big picture to be right.

Daniel Freytag is part of a new generation of film creators who consider being experts in only one specialised field too monotonous. The 22-year-old is currently learning how to professionally create films at the production company Knappe 1a, but his multi-faceted job offers him professional opportunities to also make his mark in in the fields of photography, graphic design and web development.

He approaches these challenges by using Adobe Creative Cloud solutions, which allow him to unleash his creativity in a fresh and exciting way. In this interview, he outlines his view that creative all-rounders can look forward to having the best career chances in the current world of filmmaking.

Wow – we thought that today we’d be talking to ‘just’ a young filmmaker, but according to your website, you’re also a professional graphic designer, web developer and photographer. Most would be content with simply having mastered one field, but not you. Why is that?

Daniel Freytag (DF): I’m just excited to explore the entire spectrum. It’s also quite handy to complete everything in a project using multiple resources from one hand and to combine your skills. When I create a film for a client, I can also set up the website on which the film will be featured; when I’m shooting an event video, I can also use the photos from the ground.

Can you name an example of how you benefited from your general approach?

DF: For instance, the project ‘300 Years – 300 Heads’ has really paid off in that respect. My hometown of Karlsruhe is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, so Knappe 1a produced exactly 300 video interviews for this and they released them, one after the other, on the Internet as sort of a countdown until the start of the festivities.

I shot and edited part of the interviews, designed the website, programmed the video database and created the logo and the animations. It came in quite handy that, in addition to knowing how to edit the video material with Premiere Pro and After Effects, I was also able to compose graphic designs with Illustrator. This allowed me to create everything neatly from one single source, which is ideal from an artistic point of view – even if making films will definitely remain my focus.

How did you take up filming?

DF: I was basically born into filmmaking. My grandpa and my father encouraged me to try it out. As owners of an electronics store, they enjoyed showcasing cameras to me. Additionally, my grandpa himself loved filming and photography and he taught me a lot. I believe I was eight years old when he handed me a Mini-DV-camera to film at a family celebration. I really started diving into filmmaking when I bought myself my own first camera four years ago: a DSLR-photo camera with video function.

Using hybrid cameras that can shoot both photos and films are very popular right now. Why did you decide to do that?

DF: I could probably come up with a really cool argument that would make me look innovative, but the fact is that, being young, I simply wasn’t able to afford two separate cameras for video and photo. This, however, has turned into a professional asset. I started out as an autodidact. When taking photos, it was easy for me to learn about the basics like aperture selection and the importance of focus depth, which is also the type of knowledge that I need when shooting a video. In doing so, I have improved my skills in the craft of filming.

Why did you decide to start an apprenticeship in film production, rather than working as a photographer after graduating from high school?

DF: For once, because being a photographer leans toward having to fend for yourself. But I enjoy working creatively in a team more. This is the case in film, because nothing gets done there without a big collective effort. Furthermore, I am fascinated by the possibilities to narrate stories through the use of moving images. The way that you can convey emotions through film is totally different from photos.

Which stories are you particularly interested in telling?

DF: As I’m still at the beginning of my career, I haven’t really tied myself down. At the production company Knappe 1a, I get to experience a wide variety of moving image formats: TV newscasts, live direction at events and trade fairs, as well as image videos for corporate clients. However, I am most excited about reports and profiles.

What do you like about that? Can you name an example of a profile that really moved you?

DF: One highlight so far was the bit about the American goalkeeper Luis Robles who went on to play in New York after his time at Karlsruher SC. I visited and interviewed him in the US as part of my work for the local station Baden TV. This was an exciting story, as I was able to combine a foreign news story with a local report. These three months in New York were a part of my training and they added tremendously to my development.

Which experiences in New York impressed you the most?

DF: The jaw-dropping moments are countless. I especially remember how meticulously TV broadcasts are produced. I was once invited behind the scenes to a show of a partner production company and the employees there spent 15 minutes to arranging every studio guest perfectly for the camera. Nothing is left to chance if you want the perfect image. This attention to detail impressed me.

In how far do these experiences abroad influence you professionally?

DF: I haven’t been able to command an entire studio audience yet, but this perfectionist approach has sharpened my eye for details and it has made me aware of the fact that there are no negligible areas in film production – everything must be neat for the big picture to be right. Since I’m inclined to being an all-rounder, this overlaps quite significantly with how I approach my work.

How would you evaluate your career chances, given that you are an expert in several creative fields? Is this an advantage in a world that is getting more and more complex?

DF: I don’t believe that specialised creatives are less in demand but for me, my knowledge in several fields has been a useful asset. It gives me more control over the entire effect that a project has and clients appreciate multiple offerings from a single source. Working across fields allows me to stay open to new developments. For instance, I am currently exploring live streams at sports events or press conferences and I am examining how to use new smartphone apps such as Periscope in this way. Technological experiments like these fascinate me. I can just get more things done as a technology buff and creative all-rounder.

Thank you for this great talk!

Visit Daniel Freytag’s website at This interview was edited for clarity.