2014 | 05 | 12

"Created out of a Power Vacuum"

The "Film and TV Made in Germany" session featured the team behind the Grimme Award-winning TV show  "Circus HalliGalli" as well as the teams behind the blockbuster German film "Fack ju Göhte" (7 million tickets sold) and the massive documentary film project "24h Jerusalem." These speakers were able to give MEDIA CONVENTION Berlin visitors a look behind the scenes ...


"Circus Halligalli"

"Circus Halligalli" is one of the most successful formats on German television and also a recent winner of the prestigious Grimme Award. The show was developed by the team around hosts Klaas Heufer-Umlauf and Joko Winterscheidt from out of their previous show "MTV Home." They were lucky, noted Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, that there was a sort of power vacuum at MTV at the time and that they were able to do whatever they wanted: "We had carte blanche to try anything. We didn't have to submit a concept, and we invited anybody we found interesting." The MTV label came in handy, for example, when inviting international guests, like Ozzy Osbourne, who had no idea where he was when he joined Joko&Klaas on the show. The core team from MTV Home is still working for "Circus Halligalli" today. Joko&Klaas have known Arno Scheppenheim, who is managing director of Florida TV and who produces "Circus Halligalli together with Endemol, for many years now. Scheppenheim argued that these days in Germany, more formats are built around what he called "the head" and that "more attention is being paid to developing the hosts' personalities in the show. The 'head' has become more important than it was 10 to 15 years ago." For his part, Klaas Heufer-Umlauf appealed to public broadcasters to show more courage and to stop sending up-and-coming talent and new formats to the digital channels: "The point has to come where you make good on your promise of putting these shows on during prime time." He noted that he and Joko were very satisfied being in private TV at the moment: "We need flexibility and a short chain of command for our ideas." It would be difficult with the public broadcasters, he argued, where it has less to do with the person and more with the system and all the different coordination and approval paths. Joko and Klaas recently became producers themselves, and both of them are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to design something new in the field of entertainment. In fact, they see it as their "responsibility."Among their next projects are a show with Palina Rojinski and the production of new episodes with Olli Schulz. "I can't reveal any more than that at this time," says Klaas, "although I would normally love to talk about it."


"Fack ju Göhte"

The blockbuster success of the German film "Fack ju Göhte" came as a surprise to everyone, even the team behind the film: "We've had audiences of over seven million – nobody could have expected that," explained producer Lena Schömann. She developed the idea for the film together with director and author Bora Dagtekin. "We both come from teacher families; we pretty much mined our childhoods for this film." Actress Jella Haase, who was nominated for a German Film Award for her role as Chantal in the film, enjoyed the on-set improvisation that allowed her to bring her own ideas and interpretations to the character. Torsten Koch, managing director of Constantin Film, emphasized the excellent cooperation in the marketing phase. He noted that you can't just make a trailer and a poster these days: "We shot over 60 clips for social media with the actors, and then, right before we started shooting, we had 35 media appointments in five days. It was quite remarkable." Interaction with Facebook fans had already begun in the early phase of the project. The entire team stressed the importance of creating and maintaining contact to target groups on the internet. Today, "Fack ju Göhte" has over 1.2 million Facebook fans. Koch noted: "It allows you to test things in advance, like how a poster is received, what expressions work with fans, etc." In 2014, Fack ju Göhte is gearing up for its international marketing phase. Under the title "Suck me Shakespeer" it's already been sold to many other countries. Some people would say that "German humor doesn't travel," but Lena Schömann believes that the film's focus on high school and educational problems are universal. She also noted that Bora Dagtekin has more of an American sense of humor: "It's not a typical German sense of humor, and that might make it easier for sales overseas." When asked about Berlin, the teams said the German capital was an ideal location for shooting. "In comparison to Munich, where our 'film school' was located, we had the advantage in Berlin that we could shoot in a jail, or in a theater. That wouldn't have been possible in Munich."


"24h Jerusalem"

Work on the massive documentary film project "24h Jerusalem" took roughly three and a half years, two and a half of which were necessary for research and groundwork alone. As soon as preparations were complete, shooting took place in Jerusalem over the course of one day with the help of 500 people and 70 teams. After "24h Berlin," "24h Jerusalem" was the second 24-hour project by Zero One Film. For Volker Heise, director and managing director, the biggest challenge in Jerusalem were the city's many contradictions: "We looked for Israeli and Palestinian partners to support us in our production. However, seeing as everybody is fighting over who owns Jerusalem, each step we took was political." Thomas Kufus, managing director of Zero One Film, added: "It was somewhere between a film shoot and a UN mission." The project came close to collapse at many points, and the teams had to constantly perform a balancing act. They had brought their logistics from Berlin but, seeing as they were in a Middle East country with a very unique political situation, their diplomatic skills were in constant demand. Heise noted that the special thing about the project was the interplay of television and internet: "Television is a stories machine, but there's also a limit to how much information you can transport on television. Our additional information created added value for our users on the internet. It was a great process: generate buzz in television, deepen it on the internet and then communicate with people online about it.