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Interview with cRZYFST

Written by daniel on 26. September 2006 23:14

He was and still is one of the most-talked-about moviemakers in the scene. I just have to say 'Mourning Walls Collapse' and you probably know who I'm talking about. Since me and cRZYFST worked together closely on the site I took the opportunity to ask him for an interview.

Hey Niklas, could you please introduce yourself to our readers that might not know of you?

Sure, my name is Niklas, on the net probably better known as cRZYFST. I live in Germany/NRW with my parents and my older sister in a small town called Merzenich, around 50 kilometers apart from Cologne. I'm 18 years old and currently attending my last year at school that I'll hopefully finish by May 2007 getting crowned with my A-levels. My CS movie career actually started around December 2004 when I saw Zaknafein's famous tribute movie for the well-known Norwegian clan 'eoLithic' on German television. Seeing Michael Weicker's 'The Art to Frag' some time later, I just knew that I wanted to try creating something similar to those two amazing videos. I had already been pretty infatuated with Counter-Strike at that time but the movie making took me completely away from ever playing the game itself competitively.

The first full movie that I finally finished after getting to know the tools a little better was called 'Made in Germany' (finally available under 'Miscellaneous' in the media category), a movie featuring German players only (just as the title reveals). But due to my huge unsatisfaction with the final result I decided not to release it to the public at that time. So the only positive aspect about the movie and my disappointment about it was that it made me immediately start working on my second movie called 'With Eyes of Blood' that I managed to finish around February 2005.

From then until today some other releases from me have hit the net with my latest release being 'Mourning Walls Collapse' which took me about 5 months to finish, generally because I didn't work on it as dedicating as I did for the movies before. This resulted in the way that the project accompanied me through some months in which the unfinished movie just oxidised around on my hard drive without me touching it for a pretty long period.

You've now been in Style for 3 months. What's your impression of the team so far?

I seriously had a great time with the Style crew. I felt kind of sad when I left my previous movieteam, Temporal-Pictures, but all the guys in Style made my departure from Temporal easier to bear for me as primary expected. An overall impression of the team Style consists of from my point of view would probably look like this:

1. Very considerate, dedicated and determined personalities who know what they aim for well enough to put all the needed effort into it.

2. The general work and Style's reputation comes in first hand but at the same time the fun, both with the hobby we share and the fun we have by daffing around with each other or discussing more serious issues, plays an important role in what keeps Style-Productions rolling.

Nowadays it can be hard to be recognized for your work because of the massive flood of movies. However your latest movie 'Mourning Walls Collapse' got a lot of attention and was very well received by the community. What's your secret?

Haha, isn't that obvious? ;p No seriously, I don't really know why the movie was more successful than other movies of the recent time - at least in some cases ;). If I watch MWC now after its release, I see something that doesn't please me at all anymore. I know that this is partially caused by the tiredness I conceive for the movie but as far as I can regard the movie objectively I don't find anything in it that would really impress me if it'd be presented to me in another movie today.

So the only way to find out what distinguishes me from other movie makers who didn't receive the same respect that was given to me in the last time would be by simple assuming. But since my self-assessment turned out to be horrible many times in the past, I leave this experiment to those who watch my movies and think of me as a better movie maker than of the others around.

How did you come up with the name 'Mourning Walls Collapse'?

I was criticized for the name many times now and I have actually been unwilled to give away a detailed description or justification why I chose to call my own work 'Mourning Walls Collapse' since the only person who has the right to judge about the title is me anyway. But to clear those people's sight who didn't find an own interpretation so far (in cooperation with my readme), here's my own explanation: First off all I'd like to say that the title has nothing to do with jews or any anti-Semitic content as it was (obviously playfully) called several times now. The similarities of 'Mourning Walls Collapse' and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem regarding the name was just an unfortunate coincident I wasn't aware of at the time I was looking for a title.

If you have read the full readme I included in the movie archive it might be easier to understand why I chose this quite strange title as I have to admit. The time for me to find a title that pleased myself was when the whole movie was finished, even the whole intro with only one thing missing: the main title at the end of the intro sequence on de_aztec. But first, a little background story about the working process:

From the day I started with the project I didn't really have a good feeling about the whole thing. I've already been tired of all the songs and the way I had arranged them to create a fluent mix, tired of the frags aswell as of the alternative sky I used. This is one of if not the only reason why it took me more than 5 entire months to finish the project. I felt like it was better for me to cancel the project several times while I was working on it since I just couldn't find myself in an comfortable work flow. But thinking of all the work I had put into the editing so far kind of convinced me that I just had to finish it even if it was a real struggle for me. This struggle seriously resulted in the way that I became depressive and felt burnt-out from everything related to movie editing in general. It might sound strange for some of you but it really affected my entire life that I couldn't just abandon the project that had already caused such awkward feelings. I became even more introverted than I had already been before and felt like everything around me was just fucked up. To find some kind of a valve through which I was able to get rid of my anger that I felt inside, I started listening to even heavier metal bands than I was used to before, one of those bands being 'As I Lay Dying'. Fans of AILD might already see the connection to 'Mourning Walls Collapse' now since it sounds very similar to one of AILD's records 'Frail Words Collapse'.

This was basically the moment when the name popped up in my head for the first time. Out of the name 'Frail Words Collapse' and a song called 'Morning Waits' I arranged the title 'Mourning Walls Collapse'; 'morning' became 'mourning' and waits became 'walls'. I just had a good feeling when I spoke the name out loud and finally decided to use it as project name. The words might not really mean exactly what I thought they would do and they also might not make a real sense if you read them isolated from this explanation, even from my point of view - nowadays. But at the time I had the final version rendered, they just made perfect sense for me and made me feel like they would precisely express how I felt by releasing the movie: as if a house that caused nothing else but mental pain would finally break down and set me free.

I don't want to sound whiny now but you asked for it and I gave you the explanation. Nowadays, after MWC was accepted so well by the major part of the community, I'm really proud that I didn't cancel the project even if there were times where I didn't want anything else but getting rid of it.

Do you have any plans of creating movies of another game as Battlefield, Quake, or maybe Unreal Tournament? Or maybe you have plans for an IRL-movie?

Well, I feel a little bit burnt-out from CS at the moment to be honest with you but I still have two movies in the starting blocks which definitely will be realized by my own hands and actually shouldn't suffer from my tiredness of the game. There's always a way to keep your personal interest alive, if not by the game itself than by trying to create something unique by the help of your video tools.

Regarding other games: Joining Temporal back in the days was what finally showed me that there also was another game movie community besides the CS scene. Since every movie maker in Temporal had his focus on another game, it was just a logical fact that I tried to expand my field of interest to those games aswell, as because of pure curiosity or integration into the team.

Nowadays, I really enjoy watching a UT or Q3 movie from time to time even if I never really played those games for a nameable amount of time. But really changing the game of my credit because of my newly found passion is actually an act I took some distance from. As I said, I became a real fan of other gaming movies, especially Q3 defragging, but trying to force me into something where my roots aren't located would feel wrong for me - the Q3 community (which obviously doesn't bring up any remarkable signs of insight or acceptance for the CS movie scene) would probably just flame me or my general try to gain a foothold in the scene and consider me as someone just trying to jump on the moving train. So the chance that you will read my name in the credits of a future Q3 or UT movie release is decreasingly small (greetings excluded of course^^). But even a small chance is a chance and who knows what UT2k7 will bring us for example. Maybe I'll be so blown away by the game that I immediately change my opinion and get started to learn the basics of it as a new game where no one is really experienced in.
IRL material:

I never really thought about creating something based on real life footage only but whos really able to say what his future will look like. At least I'm not quite sure where my career as a movie maker will lead me but at least I can say that nothing is planned yet what doesn't obligingly mean that I will never get in touch with any kind of rl movie.

What do you think is the most important quality to have as a movie maker?

Easy question: at least a glimpse of creativity and the determination to create something unique, something coming from someone's own imagination and not from another movie maker who successfully used a certain effect or song in one of his movies. As a successful movie maker (in first hand for yourself, not for the audience) you shouldn't be content with things that worked well for others like the color settings used in the well-known 'Dreamscape' by Daniel 'Xyanide' Hagelin which have probably been tried to copy as often as nothing else in a long period after its release. Every time I see those color settings getting imitated I have to ask myself the same two questions: 'Is it really fun for the creator to do what others already did before and usually in a better way?' and 'Does the creator really feel a certain pride of his work if you keep in mind that half of the movie is based on other editors' ideas?'

This is one of the reasons why I'm not a big fan of tutorials since they usually lead people to just copy settings given in a tutorial. People tend to believe that they know a program just because their movies start looking like those from editors who really know what they did. In my opinion, you gain no advantage to know that hitting key X in the program Y makes the image look like movie Z since you don't really know what exactly you change. Of course I'm not talking about a program code that would be utopian. But at least it should be able to learn simple basics which aren't urgently linked to editing programs. An example: If someone just can't see the reason why he captures in a frame rate from the game of his choice which is several times higher than the final video actually consists of or why he needs to speed the clips up by a certain amount, I see only one advice to give the particular person: abandon movie editing.

Now back to programs: if someone doesn't know what the various settings of a program control even if the person released several movies, then he has to ask himself if it's really clever to hold the course of reading tutorials or if it isn't better to start right from the beginning: with a profound knowledge of a program. In some way I think that this ignorance hinders a quite unexperienced movie maker to realize his own ideas in the way that he just doesn't know how to handle a job, split up the idea into different elements or work stages because he lacks of experience.

What's your own best respectively worst quality as a moviemaker?

I assume my worst quality is, as for many other movie makers from today, the time management - I seriously suck when it comes to time predictions. I think I don't have anything to add as further explanation by saying that MWC was originally planned to be released in late December 2005 and finally hit the sites at the end of May 2006.

Moviemaking, in terms of gaming, isn't what it used to be. The 'seriousness-factor' has increased a lot and some people even charge for their creations. Are you considering 'selling' gaming-related movies in the future?

I came to the decision that I didn't want to connect the hobby itself what it is at the moment with a profitable additional income. I already made this decision when I joined Temporal-Pictures even if I didn't have any job offers from the scene at that time what changed a little bit after the release of 'Mourning Walls Collapse'. The various queries I received in the meantime didn't really change anything about my sight of the money issue but quite the opposite: my dislike of the perception to get paid for my #1 hobby kind of increased with the time. I don't think that it's a good basis for a successful cooperation if the only thing that connects you as the creator and your client is only money and not a accordant idea or enthusiasm for the project itself.

We also discussed those things internally in Style and it became obvious that the views differ from person to person. I don't really have mixed feelings if someone decides to take money additionally to the work he would have done anyway. It's just my personal idea that money would prevent me from working the same way as I did it before because I had to take care of another person's taste aswell (as if it wasn't hard enough to please myself). Furthermore and kept in mind that it usually takes me a huge amount of time to finish a project, I would have awkward feelings to make someone who paid for the job wait so long for the final result.

If you were given unlimited resources for creating a Hollywood-style movie. What would you create?

That's a tough question or better said a tough situation I would be put into if those unlimited resources would hit my bank account. No matter what I would decide to create with the resources given, I'm pretty sure that the result would suck.

Creating a CS movie with the limited possibilities given to editors in terms of tweaking the game or working with the corresponding programs as someone who got to know the tools on his own and wasn't taught by a professional is something entirely different compared to a professionally created movie like those from Hollywood. And that's where I see the point that would probably ruin the movie: as a guy creating movies as a hobby I do not have the experience nor the determination to gain experiences in this field of work.

You're doomed to live the rest of your life on a deserted island and you're allowed to take three things with you. What would you bring?

Haha, standard question for an interview I guess :p. To be honest, I never really thought about what my response to this question would look like even if it's probably the most widely spread question in interviews. Of course I could start to philosophize about the meaning of this question now but since it's probably not meant as a really serious question I'll answer it bluntly. My answer is: three bottles of beer.

So what would be your tip for the newcomers of the scene?

Get to know your tools, the way you do this isn't important as far as you do it on your own. That's honestly the most important point I see when someone is willed to enter the movie scene. The programs you are or will be working with are the basics that will help you to visualize the ideas that you have on your mind. Tutorials, as they are provided by so many sites and movie making communities (of course Style included), might be helpful at first sight but, again, they also have the negative aspect that they include a deceiving element for those who use them just to achieve a certain impression with it.

People read those tutorials and think they become better that way only because they now know how to apply a glowing blur on a clip for example. But do they really know what they are doing or what they are changing in the programs? I doubt it to be honest. In my opinion, that's the wrong way to learn something, it's like starting to learn a foreign language like English without even being able to write letters of your own mother tongue.

Thank you very much for your answers. The last words are reserved for you.

First of all, thank you Daniel for the interview. Further greetings go to my buddies from Temporal-Pictures for your trust in me when you recruited me back then. I also want to thank everyone who enjoyed my previous work and accompanied me through my small career so far. There are actually many guys I had to mention in particular but I limit it to their nicks: fistor, ratquirit, lu1s, xyanide, reflex, cristal, feidi, dqn, plazma, tobbet and, as usual, all the people I forgot (it's too hard to list everyone) - if you think you should have been mentioned here, feel greeted ;). At last, I want to thank everyone in Style-Productions for recruiting me. I look back on great months so far and I hope there will be plenty of more - can't wait to meet you some day ;) - Over and out!
#1essR 7. October 2006 20:10
n1 one...good reading
#2andreas Style-Productions 7. October 2006 22:13
Nice interview
#3cZF Style-Productions 8. October 2006 00:15
best interview ever! ;0
#4Lacc Hybrid Movies 8. October 2006 10:35
#3 hehe :)
#5slize Elegato 8. October 2006 15:56
Why you're telling us so many things ? :D
#6cZF Style-Productions 8. October 2006 21:52
#5 I like to answer things in more than one sentence, easy as that. ppl who care about it will appreciate my effort I put in those answers - those who don't, won't read it anyway.

Last changed: 8. October 2006 21:57
#7Deniz DD Films 9. October 2006 16:37
nice interview. seems to be a cool guy ;)
#8slize Elegato 9. October 2006 16:46
yeah pretty sexy ;d
#9wadsten 12. October 2006 10:55
Fun reading! <3
#10Juzh 14. October 2006 18:24
some interesting things mentioned in this interview. gl & hf with your movies.
#11ShaQ moviemakers 15. October 2006 17:18
hoho much text, nice answers :D
#12geno 24. May 2007 01:16
3 bottles of beer rofl
good man :)
#13muCk 1. November 2009 01:02
good interview!
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