Tobias Deml : The Accidental Director


People who know the Santa Monica College film student, Tobias Deml, call him "The Austrian," just as the well-known countryman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was known as "The Austrian Oak." They both share similarities, as in: both were born in Austria, both are extremely charismatic individuals with highly charged enthusiastic "can do" attitudes, and both chose SMC for their education.

Today Schwarzenegger appears to be living his dream.

On the other hand, "Toby," as he likes to be called, is just getting started on his journey, happily driving his 1992 lemon yellow Pontiac Firebird towards his dream.

As a teenager in Austria, Deml's dream was to be animator and work for Pixar. "I love animation because it seems to have its own laws. Learning how to create from nothing, is amazing," Deml said.

"I was not academic at all.  By accident, I discovered a computer program that enabled me to build landscapes and from there I took it to 3D."

He came to the United States to perform his mandatory Austrian military service as a volunteer at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where he was a guide and helped digitize library books.

His dream of becoming a 3D animator quickly vanished in the middle of sitting through a screening of "Valkyrie," a film that changed his life forever. During the film he said he had an epiphany. "I finally found something that brought everything I loved together," Deml said.  From then on he only wanted to direct films.

 "I ended up making a film by accident. I came here. I'd never made a movie before.  I always wanted to.  I was always too stubborn to spend the money on a camera," said Deml. "I made a friend, Joshua Knaus, who had a camera and made a movie together that was basically a practice. We went to Venice Beach to film vignettes on all the characters we met."

SMC Film Club member, Gregory McKraus, ended up editing the footage which produced "Faces Of Venice," the first of five films Deml has made so far.

 "All of my films have been made with zero budgets, except for ‘Faces of Venice', We paid a homeless man with a hotdog but, his interview didn't make the cut," said Deml.

Soon after, Deml ended up making another film that was made by accident. He and his friend set out to do location for a photo shoot in the desert and instead ended up making a quirky little film that centered the attention on his bright Firebird.

The SMC Film Club has been a great resource for Deml and he's been a great resource for the club. Film Club member, Larry Skuse said, "He's one of my favorite people in the club personally and as a professional. He's really outspoken and very helpful. As my dad says, he's going to go far."

What kinds of film does Tobias see himself making in the future?

"Definitely, ‘The Matrix.' It's my favorite movie and the kind of movie I want to make. I want to make films that make a difference, that help change peoples lives, and inspires them to take some sort of positive action; the movies where you don't have family drama or something but they just drive thru with a really strong concept that conveys a completely different world and blows people's minds," Deml said.

Some masterpieces come about from epiphanies and interventions but, for Tobias Deml it's more like his work was created by accidents and in return transformed into films that have impacted the lives of the people around him and will continue to do so in the near future.