Interview: Writer/Director Andreea Boyer

❉ The prodigious young film-maker and poet on her movie ‘Julia 17’ and much more.

“Discipline has been the main rule in my life since I can think but going through all those hard times… I have learned to NEVER give up… There are always roadblocks in life and that’s what makes it so interesting, colourful, adventurous and lively” – Andreea Boyer

Julia 17 is the debut full-length feature film from indie filmmaker Andreea Boyer. It is a story about abandonment, inner turmoil and self-recognition. Not only is Boyer the film’s director, producer, screenwriter and cinematographer, she also stars as the title character. Boyer is also a published poet and an FAAVM Appointed Europe Ambassador for Children and Youth… These are impeccable credentials for a creative who is 23 years old, and as you will find during our interview, the multi-talented Ms. Boyer has overcome numerous hurdles in her young life, and her story is nothing less than inspiring and empowering.

In Julia 17, Julia (the 17-year-old daughter of a multi-millionaire businessman from New York City and a Gypsy woman from Romania) is banished by her older brother after she live broadcasts her suicide attempt. Julia subsequently travels the world searching for the truth with her hacker boyfriend. A mysterious director promises Julia to initiate her into the world of film in Hollywood, but instead she ends up working in a brothel in order to make ends meet. After confronting her mother in Munich, Julia returns to New York for her 18th Birthday where she experiences another state of emergency. She decides to let everything behind her and she follows the director to Brazil for a new proposal and with the hope to find her inner peace.

Julia 17 has won two Awards (Accolade Competition 2017 Award Of Recognition – Feature Film; Headline International Film Festival 2017 – Best Feature Narrative Film) and  was also a semi-finalist at the Los Angeles CineFest, the European Cinematography Awards in Poland, the Hollywood Screenings Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Near Nazareth Festival in Israel. It also received several nominations in numerous film festivals worldwide, including Lake View International Film Festival and Barcelona Planet Film Festival.

Andreea Boyer stars alongside German film director and Rainer Werner Fassbinder collaborator Ulli Lommel, and famous German artist Wolfgang Flatz. Julia 17 was filmed in Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Brazil.

Andreea Boyer: Q & A

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Born in 1995 in the shadows of the Transylvanian castle in Romania, I started training in gymnastics at Romania’s best athletic school at the age of three. I had impressed the coaches and I was thought of as the best upcoming athletic. But instead of pursuing gymnastics, I began loving the movies at age four and I started acting at the age of five in the theatre.

At age eight, I moved to Germany, near Munich, with my mother, where I subsequently became a German citizen. I developed my passion for writing and painting and have since written and published several collections of poems and numerous screenplays for feature films. At age twelve, I fell in love with the camera, and saw the world from there on out in a cinematic way. I wrote my first screenplay about my autobiographical Gothic experiences at the age of thirteen when I discovered my passion for screenwriting. Three of my first poems have been published in the anthology Novum Pro in 2010 in Europe.

Later on, I studied film-making and screenwriting at ILS University in Hamburg, and I have since produced several short films. From October 2013 I worked for Campo Bahia in Brazil and I also performed in front of the camera as myself and interviewed several prominent people, like Oliver Bierhoff, the manager of the German national football team and the team’s head coach, Joachim Löw (Loew). Among other important people I interviewed also the musician Abi Ofarim. In February 2014, I founded my company, Mabig Movies in Germany, so I can work internationally in the world of films, screenplays and sales.

In 2015 I studied acting at Jack Garfein Studio in Paris and soon after I went to the Royal School of Speech and Drama in London where I studied Shakespeare. While in the UK, I also played in Marcus Warren’s suspense thriller, Snap Shot. And after a couple of other movies, I went back to visit Los Angeles again and continued screenwriting.  One of the most famous pianists and composers of our time, William Goldstein, composed a song for me, entitled Andreea’s Three Notes which can be heard on YouTube.

Always continuing my passion for screenwriting, I currently have finished several new screenplays for feature films, which are ready for the international market. My 96 minutes feature film Julia 17, in which I wrote, directed, produced and play the main role, was finalized in 2017  and it has been accepted by several international film festivals including the Headline International Film Festival where it won an award of merit, and the prestigious Accolade Global Film Competition, where it won an award of recognition.

I have various online activities during my free time and mostly I am focused on writing and the film world, and my website which I have updated to a News site and I am interviewing influential people from all working areas including Films, Art, Business, Engineering, Science, Social, Politics etc.

What made you pursue film making?

The visionary aspect came into my life early on, as I was born. Because of a complex position, the doctor had to pull me out forcefully and so he had broken my fragile legs during my birth. After that I faced years of pain and treatments with injections and medication etc. and slowly learned walking at age three and I’ve been ambitious as a child as my father has taken me to the Gymnastics school, but because my legs still needed some years to heal well, I immediately stopped pursuing a sports career. Until the age of seven I had to be very careful with my legs, but still I liked being on the farms from my grandparents and playing with kids, even if for not long.

While healing, only TV and movies really helped me. I sat down and watched very excited and loved that. That cinematic world was my mental and spiritual refuge in order to forget the pain because I’ve been the first fifteen years of my life in pain. But the non-stop pain day and night didn’t stop me from being a wild child and going to the classes at the theatre where I performed as an actress and dancer.

I admit the dancing moves have been the challenge for me as a 6-year-old child with heavy pain. I remember once in the middle of the big performance in front of a big audience, that I stopped dancing while everyone else continued dancing, I needed a break and so I walked towards the camera operators who had filmed all live for the TV stations and I walked towards these men and they told me about their “cameras”  so that word always stayed on my mind. The director of the theatre wasn’t pleased with my break in the middle of the biggest performance and so she has “fired” me and sadly I couldn’t visit the class in the theatre anymore. That made me sad and so the TV and the movies began being even more my interest later on.

L-R: Andreea Boyer and Annika Strauss in Jamira (2013)

The daily routine for me as a child was going to school, (theatre only till age 7), being outside, visiting the doctors, the hospital and getting the injections in my legs and having all kind of examinations which took hours and hours so I and my parents left at late afternoon, sometimes at night and then we went home. And while being in the hospital for so long I always missed the television and watching the movies.  I had met in my childhood more doctors than I knew people.

As a child in order to forget the pain I loved watching action movies with Willis, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger, Stallone and all those typical action and adventure films. That wasn’t typical for a child, watching those heavy films but I needed watching that action in order to ignore my heavy pain. Later on a group of mean boys at school had thrown me down a hill and so I fell with my back on a giant stone; I’ve been again in major pain for some years after I recovered from the pain in my legs. So that’s why I have been for the first 15 years of my life in pain. And again, I had become introverted and I spent more time watching movies and documentary films and seeing more film cameras and my curiosity and interest for that grew day by day and with that I’ve been able to ignore the pain for some time.

Discipline has been the main rule in my life since I can think but going through all those hard times wasn’t easy and, because my mother is a writer herself, I started early at the age of nine years writing poems and later on at the age of 13 I wrote my first screenplays and so my mother gave me as a birthday gift my first camera and equipment; with that I filmed my first two short films. Additionally, stress came in like poison and kidnapping etc… But I have learned to NEVER give up. And so I continued transforming my emotions, happenings into poems and scenes for my screenplays and being creatively active instead of focused on the negativity. Thanks god my bones healed perfectly well, I’m all healthy and I can work for my dreams.

L-R: Max Brauer, Andreea Boyer, and Raol Arias in Julia 17

What obstacles did you face when you were starting out?

I’m now 23 years young. Being a young female in the industry wasn’t easy. I started with modelling but I missed acting, you know… Having a frozen face for hours isn’t easy for a teenager who is also a rebel and a bit “rock and roll” So I wanted to be back into acting but the local theatres had more dancing programmes so I decided to ask my mom to go with me to castings. Either way people were laughing and students have been bullying/mobbing me at high school non-stop. I have been like the “trash bag” receiving everyone’s bad mood and the worst “compliments” you can imagine on a daily basis.

You know… When captivating information lands in the wrong circle then you’re lost in there, so you must learn to be decisive and realise what’s good for you and your life and take the initiative without listening to people who are upsetting you for no reason.

Many sudden and fast moves with roadblocks came into my life also, from Romania to Germany, always changing my path in life and with that the environment and people and learning new languages. Happily, I love to learn more languages which is good.  I started with screenwriting at age 13 so of course there’s no class for screenwriting at that age, and so I have been only able to learn online about that and gratefully there have been and are always be information needed online. Later on I studied professionally screenwriting and directing, etc in Hamburg city.

I faced obstacles also as I have been looking for an agent to represent me as a screenwriter. It has been more difficult to find an agent and today things are more calm but it’s still a fight as both sides matters: searching but also working and always being focused on the goals, and learning to set new goals and to let go what doesn’t work out.  I’m not a tall person, also I’m thin so therefore everyone looked strange at me but other aspects are more important so always keep working hard for your goals and bite into a lemon and you’ll see the results for your work. Being focused on the work is important. It is a effort for everyone… the right outfits, the looks, the preparing, the photo shoots, all that “right presentation” which is mostly a fake smile and that’s the sad part in our superficial, capitalism society that most care about how we look instead of who we are…

Andreea Boyer in Tiry? (2012)

So much time and effort spent with that and as I realised that better results are coming only from working for the goal; I had chosen to use my time again for writing and more learning and accomplishing my own projects and living the adventurous road of film festival submissions for my first short films at the age of 16 instead of losing all my free time for nonsense photos and castings.

I understood that building up and creating a basis and an essential project is important to be able to make more out of it. Maybe being on the farm as a child has showed me that a fruit or a vegetable only grows if we plant the seeds for it and where we plant it and if we are truly taking care of it.

There are always roadblocks in life and that’s what makes it so interesting, colourful, adventurous and lively and often the roadblocks are like hidden new perspectives where we have the option to be upset or to think new and create something that later on will be awarded. It doesn’t matter if you’re a female or a male director or writer. What only matters is that you’re a creative creator and you’re focused on your work.

How did you come up with the initial idea for your film ‘Julia 17’?

I have made my first short films Jamira and Tiry about provocative topics and so also for my feature Julia 17. I had chosen the provocative theme of “abuse”. The abuse scene at the beginning shows the forgotten and ignored, real and tragic happenings in our society which are reflected and revealed in the role of Julia who tries to identify herself while she is facing the dark side of her life. I watched the news on TV and have often read in the newspapers about disturbing and real stories about child abuse and so I have included that into Julia 17 to showcase a story which not everyone wants to read or see but that’s exactly the burning point, because ignorance only lets the evils continue their devilish intend and actions.

L-R: Wolfgang Flatz and Andreea Boyer in Julia 17

What was it like working with Ulli Lommel, can you tell us a little about that?

I and my mom met him for the first time at his castings in Munich back in 2010, as I was 15 years young and I was supposed to act for the role of an American Girl, but my English accent wasn’t good enough and so I couldn’t play that role. Two years later at the age of 17 I met him again to present him my project Julia 17 and so we started working on the film. Lommel plays the mysterious director in my film Julia 17, a main film role which suits him well, as he played himself.

He has been behind the scenes the same person as you can see him in my film. Same speaking, same different moods, same clothes style, he’s been a mysterious person all the time and playfully moving his arms and laughing loud and constantly changing his “roles” while talking, everywhere, just an extreme extroverted person, no one knew what’s on his mind, which immediately had all attention from everyone.

 What was it like working with Wolfgang Flatz?

Wolfgang Flatz is a very respectful, professional and hard-working artist who also plays in films sometimes. Lommel had contacted Flatz and Flatz had accepted to have a so young director, me, giving him instructions on set. Flatz has always studied the Scenes very well before performing and he is a fantastic human. Gratefully I’ve been able to film all the New York penthouse scenes in his own penthouse in Munich and all the arrt objects which you can see in his penthouse are his own as he is a well-known German artist, and his unique art has given all the scenes there a great atmosphere.

Which film-makers have influenced you the most?

Spielberg, Coppola, Cameron, Eastwood, Fellini and many more.

You’ve published two volumes of poetry so far, ‘Humanoid or Human?’ and ‘STAR’… How do your poems develop?

Under my real name I had published my first three poetry books back in 2010 on Amazon and later on I published in 2018 my books STAR and Humanoid or Human? and I have also turned those two books of mine from 2018 into screenplays already.

In June 2018, I published my poetry book STAR on Amazon and I wanted to have the tone of this lyrical journal “simple and imperial.” This book came into my mind spontaneously, during the moment of breath between the release of my feature film Julia 17 and my next projects. I would love it if STAR penetrates your souls and awakens the creative beings in each one of you. It is my great honour to also have two significant reviews in my book from [film director] Mark L. Lester and [WABC correspondent] N.J. Burkett.  In July 2018 I had published my second new Poetry book Humanoid or Human? In that I included two significant reviews from Mr. N.J. Burkett and [actor and life coach] Ricardo Chávez.

Which writers inspire you?

T.S. Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Eugene O’Neill, Charles Tomlinson, Shakespeare, Konstantin Stanislawski, and more….

L-R: Charles Bradley Logan and Andreea Boyer in Julia 17

Do you have any advice for young film-makers like yourself?

Your life is in your own hands. You’re the creator of your life. Follow your mental intuition. Be aware and alert. Nourish your mental health with wisdom, not with doubts. Learn from disappointments and move on. Be mentally and emotionally focused and ready for the present. Love yourself. Don’t let others influence you, instead be yourself and always be honest with yourself and think twice or more often before making a decision, even if it’s a spontaneous one, there’s always time for asking yourself if the situation you’re facing is the right choice.

Don’t be focused on fame and party, instead work on your projects and you’ll receive the attention for that which is more important for your career. Don’t let someone influence you with their great talks, instead look at the actions and facts. Ask yourself where you want to be in five or in ten years and how you can build up your work by working for it. Don’t spend much time on social media, instead read online informations about what you need. Be grateful in life. Be aware of your weakness and your strength and don’t let anyone take advantage of your weakness, learn how to transform your weakness into your new strength and that will give you new energy during hard moments.

What are you working on at the minute? Do you have any upcoming projects?

I prefer completed actions instead of words so once I have something done I will let you all know!  Thank you.

 How can our readers discover more about you and you work?

All readers are welcome to visit my website and from there you can message me  under “contact” via a direct E-Mail, and I always update my website so everyone can read the news and my biography, and see all the links to my poetry books and films and all my other projects.

Thank you very much, for taking the time to take part in this interview! 

Thank you also for interviewing me!

❉ ‘Julia 17’ is available on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Youtube Movies and iTunes:  You can watch it here‘STAR’ and ‘Humanoid or Human?’ are available at Amazon on paperback and Kindle.

❉ If you would like to learn more about Andreea, you can visit her website. Follow Andreea on Twitter: @andreeaboyer

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