Being a journalist is hard work, but the perks can be awesome! Stefan Pape studied Journalism and started out working for a sports magazine, but rolled into the film world four years ago. Watching movies, interviewing famous people and getting paid for it? “It’s definitely a dream job,” Stefan confirms.
“Film journalism suits me a bit more than sports. With sports it’s all about the exclusive and breaking news, while I prefer sitting down with someone and talking about their work, rather than chasing the latest transfer news,” he confides. “I love watching movies and my favourites are comedies, film noir and classic Hollywood movies like Casablanca.”
Speaking of the golden age of Hollywood…Stefan is a huge fan of actor Jack Lemmon, famous for Some Like It Hot and The Apartment. “To me that man is the originator of managing to be incredibly funny and empathetic at the same time. The late Robin Williams had that talent of blending comedy and drama as well.”
Small talk and interviews
Talent is certainly important, but so is dedication. Actors often make their job look easy, but there is hard work that goes into the preparation for a role. The same goes for Stefan’s job: it takes research and decent preparation to make the most of an interview. “I always have ten questions prepared, but I usually have time to ask five or six,” Stefan says. “Film journalists normally have approximately five minutes to interview an actor on camera about his or her latest movie. That includes small talk and leaving the room after the interview. So unfortunately there is little time for getting acquainted with the actors. I was talking to Jude Law a while ago about Tottenham Hotspur, our favourite soccer team, but was quickly reminded by a PR lady that the clock was ticking,” Stefan laughs. “You have to get straight to business. If you have a longer interview for written articles with someone about their work, you can get into the flow of a conversation. If you do a short interview in front of the camera, there’s hardly any time for that. You ask a question, the person answers it and then you sort of have to change the subject because there are so many bases to cover. There is no time to elaborate on much.”
Stefan has interviewed dozens of celebrities, but the interview he did recently with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for the movie Hercules, is his favourite. “We just had a lot of fun, he was basically teaching me how to be Hercules. We got a bit silly and it was great! Actually, I’m quite pleased with almost everyone I’ve interviewed, but there are still a few people on my interview wishlist,” he muses. “I would love to sit down with Robert De Niro, that is still a huge dream. Paddy Considine also tops my list. He’s a British actor who plays in Dead Man’s Shoes, one of my favourite films of all times. The painful thing is, I’ve already been offered a chance to interview him, but I’m on holiday then! Paul Giamatti and John C. Reilly are also on the list, as well as directors Martin Scorcese, Pedro Almodóvar and the Coen brothers.”
Interviewing directors is a bit different from interviewing an actor. “I think a director in general has invested more into the project,” he explains. “An actor does his very best with the role he’s playing, but afterwards he moves on to another project. Directors spend more time working on a movie and it’s more of a passion project for them. You can ask them questions about more than just the characters or the storyline. They know so much about the different areas, that they are often even more interesting than actors when it comes to interviews.”
But regardless whether Stefan is on his way to interview a director or an actor, he doesn’t take his job for granted. “I’m very grateful for my job and I care about it a lot. When I’m sitting outside of the room I’ll be doing the interview in, I still get these butterflies in my stomach,” he admits. “It’s a sort of mixture of nerves and excitement when you, for example, realise Jackie Chan is only a few feet away and you’ll be speaking to him in a couple of minutes. But that’s a good thing in my opinion. I can still feel that rush when I walk into an interview, which feels the same as when I started four years ago. You’re talking to people on top of their craft, who are entertaining millions of people worldwide and are really good at what they do. You get a sense of respect and appreciation for their work. It’s really exciting to talk to them and I hope I’ll still get that feeling when I’m doing interviews in ten or twenty years from now!”