Bianca Heuser: Do you prefer filmmaking to writing?
Helene Hegemann: After Torpedo, I would actually have preferred to continue making films. But you can’t really compare the two. The difference is that while you’re sitting at your desk writing a screenplay, you don't hold direct responsibility for the final product. That’s what’s so fun about it. It would probably kill other people because it means a certain loss of control, but I like it. The fact that your precise vision of a film goes through the hands of so many people who make it into something completely else that it develops a life of its own—it removes you from it, and I quite like that.
What is it like to direct the adaptation of your own novel?
I hadn't planned this—had someone suggested this to me when Axolotl Roadkill came out, I would've thought it was complete bullshit. But since—for reasons that remain inexplicable to me—the book became a bestseller, some rather big production companies were interested in buying the movie rights. They mostly do this so their competitors can’t and not because they are passionate about it. Not all the people you encounter have an amazing vision. As an author, you can’t rely on the sale to mean that the movie will be in theatres at some point. Most of the time, it’s a strategic move first. If the movie was in fact made, I knew that it’d be a catastrophe if it mirrored the public reception of the book. Meaning, that it’s about a pretty standard 16-year-old girl who is somewhat rebellious but in the end still goes back to school. I was so scared of this misunderstanding continuing that in the end, I realized I had to keep the rights and make the film myself. It took six years for this idea to turn into a finished movie.