Paul Herrmann may have just graduated from Gymnasium—the German equivalent of high school—but the skater turned filmmaker has already scored gigs with Fendi, Vogue Germany, i-D, among others. Herrmann traces his interest in photography and videography back to his skater roots; he was an avid member of the skateboarding community in Hofheim, his hometown, in his early teens. “My best friend at the time had a camera and started filming us [skating] from the very beginning,” he says. “At that point, I wanted to film something as well, and he gave me his camera. [After that], it was just about filming for me.” Having outgrown his small town after graduating, Herrmann moved to Berlin over a year ago to continue pursuing visual art and skating, finding a welcoming community in both subcultures within Germany’s art capital.
When I met Herrmann last fall, he was taking a brief hiatus from Berlin, hitting up New York, Los Angeles, and Spain on a month-long trip. Of course his vacation included capturing footage of his travels and the other like-minded kids he met along the way. When he showed up to my boyfriend’s house to take footage of us, he pulled a portable mini LED light, a camcorder and a film camera out of his backpack and immediately began scanning the room for prospective backdrops. Truly D.I.Y. by nature, it became apparent that Herrmann was used to working solo.
“Since everything is so new to me, I always learn new stuff from shoot to shoot,” he says. “For example, the MCM project was actually the first time I had a concept and someone to go through all the shots with me…It was the first time I had a someone DP for me. “Before that, I would just write down some ideas and go for it. Still, I feel like a lot happens spontaneous in the moment.”
Herrmann and many of his peers represent the younger generation of artists and creatives who are just now starting to make a name for themself—ones who choose to utilize their skills without the assistance of high-tech equipment and professionally assembled teams. They do it for fun.
“School was low-key always hard for me,” Herrmann confesses. “Luckily, I always wanted to film, so I had this as my goal the whole time. I remember at some point I saw this campaign by Dexter Navy, and that gave me the motivation to focus more on becoming the creative I wanted to.” Now Herrmann plans, casts, shoots, and edits most of his videos as a one man team. “When it comes to the edit, I usually put together a rawcut as soon as I have the music. As soon as I hear a nice song, I immediately have ideas.” In terms of his output, he moves rather quickly, having, often, the final and only say in the product’s outcome. “I always try to put stuff out fast, I’m more hyped over that.”
Herrmann, who has since returned to Berlin, is currently preparing for another shoot in Milan. While in Berlin, Herrmann says he is leafing through his footage and photos for a magazine and gallery show release titled “I Thought I was You.” The collection will include all the photos, videos, and super 8 footage that he shot, documenting his time in the States. When asked about his time in American, he vehemently replies: “New York is so different to Berlin [and] Europe in general. The people, the food, everything. I loved it. I flew to Los Angeles afterwards and it felt so different as well. It’s like coming to a different country almost. I really gotta go back.”