Jan Becker, a versatile creative with a background in German literature, transitioned to screenwriting at UCLA and has since amassed over a decade of experience in roles including cinematographer and director. Currently dedicated to the documentary 'HEALING TRAUMA - The Resilient Soul,' Jan embodies a hands-on approach, weaving diverse narratives that reflect both German and American influences in his storytelling.
Q: How did you find your passion in screenwriting? How did this lead you to UCLA?
A: My journey began with writing poetry and prose in Berlin, inspired by my studies in German literature at TU Berlin. I've always been a hands-on person, preferring creation over analysis. My desire to delve into screenwriting led me to realize that the finest schools for this art were in Los Angeles, ultimately bringing me to UCLA. Working in the industry for over a decade I picked up many other skills besides screenwriting. I’m a cinematographer, director, producer and occasional editor.
Q: Which of your projects has been your favorite to work on and why?
A: My favorite project is the the documentary I’m producing and directing right now. ‘'HEALING TRAUMA - The Resilient Soul’' is a film dedicated to inspiring hope through the stories of diverse trauma survivors, including veterans on the brink of suicide, recovering addicts, sexual abuse victims, and civil war survivors. It emphasizes a variety of healing paths, highlighting that recovery is a personal and unique journey for each individual. It has an international scope and transcends borders, offering a universal message of resilience and renewal. It is meant as an inspiration for hope and a catalyst for social change in today's messed up world.
Q: How do you use inspiration from both Germany and the United States in your work?
A: It is very valuable to bring a European perspective to the US. The materialistic view of the world in the US can hamper the creative process. What I like about the US approach though is that it is very hands-on and matter-of-fact.
Q: What are your favorite memories from both Berlin and Los Angeles?
A: I miss my old neighborhood of Savignyplatz. I wish I could sit for hours at one of the cafes overlooking the place and see familiar faces. It still feels like home. I love the creative energy that is all-present in Los Angeles. It motivates me to sit down and be creative every day. Also, I can’t get enough of the crisp blue sky and the colors of nature, brightened by the California sunshine.
Q: What is your process when working on your personal projects as a creative filmmaker? How do you conceptualize and carry out your ideas?
A: I have a huge collection of movie ideas. I never just settle on one idea. I write down every idea that pops into my mind. After a while the strong ones push me and demand to be expressed in the physical world.
Q: Is there anything else – any words of wisdom, favorite experiences, upcoming projects, etc. – that you would love to share with readers?
A: It’s important to take every idea seriously. Even if it sounds silly in the beginning. The unconscious communicates with us through dreams and ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. You can’t use your intellect for art, you have to work with what’s coming to you from the collective unconscious. Trust the process. I trusted the process 100% for my art film ‘Bound’ and it’s my favorite creative film from all that I have done. First I thought nobody would care for it but then it actually won some awards at festivals - pretty cool!
We loved checking out Jan's work and know you will too! Go and check out Jan's work here!