SANDRA TROSTEL | UTOPIA LTD.
16210
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UTOPIA LTD.

Synopsis

Anton Spielmann (18) and his two younger friends Basti Muxfeldt and Jonas Hinnerkort are living in their family homes with their parents in an idyllic village close to Hamburg. This is where Basti and Jonas are also going to school.

The three of them founded the band 1000 Robota, and only a few months later they can close a deal with a small record label in Hamburg called Tapete Records.
The band has an ambitious aim: „We want to cause creation not to remind of it”, and they want to live up to their ideals. In a society affected by economic pressure 1000 Robota are questioning themselves and others and they don‘t want to meet other people‘s expectations. In a world of excessive supply they are looking for significance and want to unite with others to create a new way of youth culture. But soon they have to face some serious difficulties: The album recordings are not working out quite as they wanted. They are having strong arguments with the record label about the sound and if their music is saleable. Even though the press is packed with articles about the band, sold-out concerts are wishful thinking. Even though London‘s in-crowd comes to see 1000 Robota play, the band can hardly afford to pay a hostel. And even though they are invited to Stefan Raab‘s Bundesvision Song Contest, one of Germany’s biggest TV events, the album sales are moderate.

Troubled by aggravating circumstances and the divide between what is shown in the media and their real lives put their enthusiasm to the test.
While commuting between school and concerts they have to awake to the fact that it is hard to meet their record company‘s expectations, their parents‘ and live up to their own dreams. Are their ideals simply objects of nostalgia?

Interview with 1000 ROBOTA

How do you see yourself in retrospect after seeing UTOPIA Ltd.?
Jonas: It is exciting because all this happened at a time, where things belong to the past very fast. This film captures important years. Years of leaving your youth behind… Well, you probably never fully leave it behind…
Anton: …hopefully not. It feels like we changed our lives completely in these three years. What stunned me about that film and made me happy at the same time is that we made decisions and were looking for ways to deal with things based on a juvenile carelessness. We weren‘t aware of the consequences. But we can say now that most of the times we made the right decisions.
Jonas: All our decisions, may they have been right or wrong, brought us to the point where we are now. It is also about development, making experiences, to mature and grow up. And considering that, the film is more like a snapshot. The development goes on.

Which decision are you talking about in particular?
Anton: The things don‘t have to be named because it is not about judging something. It is about an entity. The decisions were made based on an omnipresent “subtle sense” which this film is showing in a wonderful way. That‘s why we love that film because it describes this abstract attitude, which could be called “punk”, without naming it.

Is there something like a general value in this film and your story?
Anton: This film represents the core of the band. Still it has a general value that older and younger people can relate to because it is about the pain, when salt is rubbed into your wounds. Everybody experiences that. The film shows that young people, who were put down and labeled as worthless, gay, arrogant and disgusting, are achieving something with their persistence and will power. We are still here and we are publishing albums. We were doing that before this film and we will after. To be saleable, the film is also showing that, is not the goal. This attitude: I deliver music because it is marketable and has economic relevance is bullshit. The matter of music, which should be the focus, loses its core and value.
Jonas: Failure in an economic sense is irrelevant. If you‘re kneeling down in front of the snot and the dirt of this business, you may loose your attitude that it is irrelevant, and that is the point where it can destroy you.

The artistic value without considering the saleability – is that an attitude you want to keep?
Anton: There are always shifts of values. There are some things we did not do very well. Things, feelings and music change. But to base our decisions on emotion instead of consideration is still important to us. Importance is irrelevant. If someone wants to interfere with our music, we‘re gone. In a time so valueless and superficial, where everything is adjusted to economic values, you seem surreal with this kind of attitude.

At what point in your lives did the shooting start?
Anton: It was a time of absolute beginning. When Sandra came along, we did not know if we were going to be musicians. It was a perfect but also risky point of time – for Sandra, too. We had written only two songs and she came and said: “I want to make a documentary on you and will shadow you for the next two years!” Of course you think: Is she crazy? But that juvenile lunacy and the recklessness we had, Sandra also had that. And she did not loose it. That is a relevant value.

How was it to be filmed in these personal and vulnerable moments?
Jonas: We agreed to the documentary out of naivety. We trusted her and now we know, it was right.
Anton: With our naivety we backed the right horse. Sandra and Lilli were very considerate and we hardly noticed them. Later we even forgot the camera. There were only few situations where the camera was annoying. But that was really rare. Only because of their considerate work it was possible to finish the film. We never had the feeling of being besieged.

In Utopia Ltd. Anton says: “The music business is fucking with my soul”. What caused that?
Anton: The music we are giving to the people has its source in my soul. For me there is no higher virtue. And when people treat that without care I feel defensive and hurt. At that time we lived at home, we were sheltered and did not know about life. And then we were pushed into a life, where we had to deal with founding a company, paying taxes and to be in the public eye. It was too much. Things I said were rephrased, they focused on things that were not really important to us and I think that were the things that made me say that. Today, the music industry is not important to me, and I don‘t feel like we are part of it.

You signed with a new record label called Buback. Is everything better now?
Anton: Yes. We published our second album. Things are going the way we want. Their values are different in terms of what we are doing. Of course not everything is better now, but in terms of work a lot of things are easier. Of course we are still learning new things, discouraging things. Things, which are not related to the record label: Not taking everything personal, learning to separate our music from the things that surround it.
Jonas: We trust our record label. We like working with Buback, and they give us the freedom we need.

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Date
Category
Documentary
Tags
1000 robota, berlin film festival, berlinale, cinema, film, independent, music