Alexander KreherPhotography and film
In 2011, German native Alexander Kreher filmed his girlfriend, Zoe Romano, as she became the first female to run across the U.S. unsupported. The resulting documentary won Best International Film at the Portland Film Festival and gained entry to film festivals across the world. This summer, the first-generation college student, who is studying film and photography at VCU, will be documenting Zoe as she attempts something even more formidable: running the Tour de France to raise $100,000 for World Pediatric Project, a Richmond, Va.-based nonprofit organization.
QYour first project with Zoe was a huge success. What led you to try to top it?
A My goal is to use film or photography to spread somebody else’s amazing story. She was the first female to ever run across the U.S. and not that many people know about that. Because I shot a film and we showed it to hundreds of people, those hundreds of people now know about it. For a while it was cool to get the positive feedback. But then we got to a point where we wanted to look forward.
QRunning the Tour de France sounds almost impossible. How did you two decide on it?
A We wanted a new project that would challenge Zoe more than the U.S. run and be totally new, but to find something in this world that no one has ever done is really hard. The moment we knew it was going to be the right project was when we couldn’t find Google results for a person running the Tour de France. She’ll be running 30 miles a day for 64 days with eight rest days. It’s like climbing Everest three-and-a half-times. She doesn’t know if it's possible to do it. I think that’s what makes a project special — if you don't know if it’s going to be successful. You're planning on putting together a full-length documentary on this run. What is the story you’ll be telling? We want to spread a message; it’s not just about Zoe, it’s about people who use their passion to create a new, positive environment. Maybe it pushes other people to think about how they can use their passion to make change in the world.
QWhat led you to approach art with a greater purpose?
A I started to realize that I could combine my passion for the arts with my world views — trying to help other people, trying to make the world a little bit of a better place — when I took a trip to the Dominican Republic with Zoe. I took a lot of photos and captured so many moments of life there. When I went back to Germany, I had my first photo exhibition in the local government building. From that point on, I realized I could combine my passions and applied for school in the United States.
QHow did you end up at VCU?
A Definitely the image of VCU, the reputation. I could have gone to college in Germany for free, but the United States is ahead of the rest of the world in the field I want to go into — documentaries, field photography. That’s why I chose to come here.
QHow do you think VCU has impacted your development as an artist so far?
A I really feel that I’m at a place where I can be free with my creativity. Some schools are known for specific styles of filmmaking: documentary filmmaking or abstract filmmaking. The photography and film department at VCU tries to support you in whatever kind of film you want to do. I know that they want each individual artist to be unique. They want to use their resources and opportunities and help and knowledge to make that unique student even better.
QWhat do you hope to achieve while you’re here?
A My goal at VCU is to refine my filmmaking and storytelling and then just being able use that knowledge to be as free as possible as an artist in the real world, so that I’m able to pick whatever story I think is worth telling and use my knowledge to make it really engaging.