Interview with Femke Wolting

Femke Wolting is co-founder and head of Submarine, an Amsterdam based production studio that develops and produces documentaries and cross media programs for broadcasters and media companies. Femke is one of the producers, along with Bruno Felix, of the recently released “Forget the Film, Watch the Titles!”  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Femke about the film and her company.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come on board the film “Forget the Film, Watch the Titles!”?
Femke Wolting: A couple of years ago I curated a program for the Internatioanal Film Festival Rotterdam about the art of opening titles for movies. People loved to see the most amazing titles from around the world in movie theatre. After that. In 2005 I started with my company Submarinechannel the website Forget the Film watch the Titles, where we collect the best titles from around the world. We also started to make short documentaries about the designers of these titles, such as Karin Fong, Jarson Yu and of cours Kyle Cooper. We got very inspired by the work and personality of Kyle Cooper and started to develop a feature length documentary about opening titles for films.

MG: I find the concept for the documentary fascinating, how did you come up with ideas on what was going to be covered in the film?
FW: The documentary, “The Obsessions of Kyle Cooper” zooms in on the world of title sequence design, taking the viewer on an inspiring journey of discovery peppered with titillating images from the present and the past with the headstrong, distinctive, and somewhat obsessive title creator Kyle Cooper in the lead role. With Cooper as our guide, we explore the history of the modern title sequence. We look back on a selection of legendary and often groundbreaking title sequences from the present and the past.

MG: What I like about the documentary is that it is not limited to just film, you also cover shorts, TV and even video games. Tell us about some of the titles feature in the film?
FW: We will focus on film titles for movies mainly but will show that for some tv series and video games too there are also great titles being made, such as for example True Blood.

MG: Do you personally have an all-time favorite opening title?
FW: I love Kyle Coopers film title for Seven because it was such a groundbreaking work , In one fell swoop, Cooper set a new precedent in title design, in terms of both content and creative approach
I also love the classiscs, of course the work of Saul bass for Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese. In Europe the titles of Guan Gatti who works with Pedro Almodavar

MG: Do you feel that titles are ever looked passed and even skipped with some audiences?
FW: I feel that people are more aware of titles then before. Studios use them to promote movies, people like to go to our the internet to watch the newest titles. Filmmakers, musicvideo and commercial directors follow closely what I going on in film titles as source of inspiration and to see new techniques being tried out. And in certain cases the titles even get more critical acclaim then the feature films that follows, this happened for example with the film Watchmen. But of course there are still a lot of people who are not aware that titles are something to look out for..

MG: What would you say is your main goal to have watchers take away when seeing the film?
FW: Officially, the title sequence should introduce the movie’s title, the most important actors, and the director in no more than two or three minutes. A good title sequence however, communicates a lot more than just the credits – offering atmosphere, story, and feeling. It takes viewers right to the heart of where the director wants them to be: breathless and on the edge of their seats. It is the viewer’s first impression of the film and sets the tone for what will follow. As a filmmaker, this is the moment you either grab viewers – or lose them. The title sequence is an essential part of the film. By the same token, the title sequence genre offers more creative freedom and room for visual innovation, than any other in Hollywood. That is why the most commercial blockbusters, particularly superhero movies, often have the most mind-boggling, creatively edgy, and surprising title sequences of all. While the rest of the film industry is increasingly constrained by conservative production values, the title designer enjoys almost total freedom. His position in Hollywood’s film industry is thus unique. So we would like that viewers after watching the film will take a better look at movie titles.

MG: Tell us about the website, Submarine Channel, which has recently launched,
FW: In order to give these usually unsung jewels the continuing attention they deserve, we’ve launched and continue to frequently update the website This much-visited favorite of web-surfing film and motion graphic fans has since accrued a collection of over 150 title sequences, including those from “Juno”, “The Pink Panther”, “True Blood”, and “God of War III”, and video interviews with notables like Prologue Film’s Kyle Cooper and Imaginary Forces’ Karin Fong.

MG: What do you have planned upcoming?
FW: We are working on a feature film to be directed by Peter Greenaway (“The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lovers”) about the Russian film director Eisenstein. Also we are producing a feature doc directed by Tommy Pallotta (producer of “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly”), a hybrid live action/animation film about the pirates in Somalia.

Click here to visit the website for “Forget The Film, Watch the Titles!”