Behind the scenes of current and earlier productions
Stopover in No Man's Land
In search of the location for the final frame of the series Stopover in No Man's Land, we chose an old railway bridge that spans a small branch of the Oder river. As can be seen, the bridge is disconnected from the rail network - so we didn't have to expect any trains that could have disturbed our work.
For continuity reasons, the production had to be done at dusk. The other pictures of the series had already been made - all more or less in the early evening hours.
The production was assisted by Roni Kaufmann, a great photographer from Israel, who had worked with me already some five years ago for the series Skin Deep Encounters. She also took the set photos.
Kübra Cihan from Undercover Make-up was responsible for the great hair-do and make-up of Lena Naomi Krebs, the stunning and beautiful actress who had already starred in Rites of Spring.
Actress: Lena Naomi Krebs
Make-up and hair: Undercover, Kübra Cihan
Assistant and set photographer: Roni Kaufmann
Pre-release of a short behind the scenes video, filmed and edited by Nils Herres.
In one of the first productions with the Fuji GX 680, an extremely versatile medium-format film camera, I was lucky to work with Alexandra Maxi Dudzinski again. Her professional way of adapting to difficult conditions on the set is unsurpassed. And were it not for her patience, Dark Siblings would have had to be postponed for a couple of reasons: bad weather, technical failure of the power station, etc.
Against all odds we could finish the production on schedule and were happy to have exposed no less than ten rolls of film - also with the help of Seth Juras, an aspiring photographer who premiered as production assistant and at the same time recorded some backstage photos as can be seen on the left.
Actors: Alexandra Maxi Dudzinski, Fryderyk Dudzinski
Make-up and hair: Evi Lunasol
Assistant: Seth Juras; http://seth-photo.de
Location: Former Iraqi Embassy in the GDR, Berlin
Vive les Mariés
One of those never ending sunny days of August, when the world's essentially bright and peaceful, especially when you're out in the countryside.
On that particular day, we were invited to Prötzel Castle. Vagram Ekavyan, who owns the manor that was built in the early 18th century, let us wander around freely in the vast and sumptuous park, where we found a dozen spots suitable for the editorial production.
Assistant Theresa Glanzberg and I knew the area quite well from earlier productions (Sisters Grimm, Landscapes of the Swedish-Mexican Border and others), and it didn't take long until we had decided where to start. Aside from fighting the hard sunlight - which was countered by heavy flash gear - the complete production went smoothly. And if it hadn't been for Vagram asking us to join him for an early barbecue, we'd taken a swim in the lake that's situated slightly south of the park.
Model: Alexandra Maxi Dudzinski
Make-up and hair: Angela Luttkus
Assistant: Theresa Glanzberg
Vintage car: Matthias Mackrodt
Clothes: Who killed Bambi?
Host: Vagram Ekavyan
The Hopper Files
Edward Hopper's outstanding paintings laid the foundation for Social Realism, an art movement that quickly found a large number of followers also in the field of photography, such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Russel Lee or Gordon Parks. Today, their works are shown in modern art museums around the world.
In The Hopper Files, we wanted to create the mood of those icons of art history, and when Christian Harting called one day and told me we could use a recently built film set for the series, it was a matter of hours until the crew was formed: Cuyén Mai and Drífa Hansen would join Christian, and the trio would play different situations in a typical Lower Eastside apartment in New York. Nils Herres, the Master of Light, was asked to set up an atmosphere simulating late afternoon, early evening sunlight, using the various light sources available on the set. Chiara Vogt and Elisa Wimmer took care of make-up and hair styling respectively. The set was designed and built by Paula Saraste and Daniel Redel.
So, just enjoy those snapshots from behind the scenes.
Sisters Grimm 2 - Snow Wight and Huntsman
No less than 15 kg of artificial snow were needed to prepare the set for the second scene of the series Sisters Grimm, which was produced at David and Galstaun Studios, Berlin. Without the invaluable help of set manager Theresa Glanzberg it would have taken a day of preparation, but we were able to get it done in less than two hours. In the meantime, Janine Drost was taking care of the make-up for Snow White and her huntsman, making it look as realistic (and frozen) as possible. And I think she did a fabulous job!
Setting the lights was another important task, since we had to make sure that the angle would match with the actual sunlight in the panoramic mountain view was to be added as a background during post-production.
While planning the production, we considered two different versions for Snow White's outfit. Thus, fashion designer Vivien Schlüter (Klash Kouture) came up with two dresses, as can be seen in the gallery to the left. We finally decided to take the short dress - for a little less elegance and decisively more freshness.
Some attention also had to be paid to Snow White's jewelry. We consulted an expert in the field, Gisela Radu, who is collecting and selling antique necklaces, earrings, bracelets and what have you in her atelier in Berlin. The necklace Snow White is wearing in the picture is dated from 1815 - shortly after the Grimm brothers published their anthology of fairy tales.
The Straight Gatsby
When Baz Luhrman's remake of The Great Gatsby hit box offices earlier this year, I asked actress Theresa Glanzberg if she would like to play the role of Daisy in a new cinematic series on that subject. She agreed spontaneously, and also suggested to cast Karl Neukauf, a Berlin-based musician and actor to play the part of Gatsby. An ideal combination for me!
It took some time to find the best location for the series, but finally we got permission to do the production at Schloss Herzfelde, a beautifully restored manor some 100 km north of Berlin.
Here are some previously unpublished frames from behind the scenes. More to come.
Sisters Grimm 1 - Red Riding Hood
The main stage for the first picture in the series Sisters Grimm, a fairy tale series for Grimm Museum, was set at Prötzel Castle, 80 km to the east of Berlin. The castle, owned by my good friend Vagram Ekavyan (picture above, front), is a 300 year old structure currently under renovation. Nonetheless, a couple of events, such as a festival for classical music, have been hosted there, since Vagram bought the premises a few years ago.
When Theresa Glanzberg, Christina Woellner and I started to develop the plan for the series, we already knew that the castle would be ideal for the production. Thus, we designed the set so that it would fit on Prötzel's stage. This meant, we had to carry a dozen of big garbage bags filled with leaves from the nearby park into the castle, plus an old trunk that weighed some 50 kg.
As for the costumes and mask part, Janine Drost had prepared a stunning wolf's head and partial fur for actor Bastian von Bömches.
Red Riding Hood re-ridden, the first part of the series, was produced with a green screen, since we had found the ideal forest background some 100 km to the northwest near Grabowsee, another location that I had frequently chosen for recent productions and that was also used by George Clooney for his new movie The Monuments Men.
Additional montage work and post-production was done by Philipp Schmitt, Berlin.
Six months later we started to produce the next picture of the series, called Oversleeping Beauty. It will feature four princes, shown below, plus an aged version of a beauty queen. Stay tuned! The production is scheduled for January 2014.
The idea emerged, when my assistant René Salomon and I drove back from a production that, in general, dealt with the vulnerability of women. We reached a point, where the discussion focused on the current tendency in society asking its members to display in public all sorts of emotional turmoil, preferably in real time. Back home, I scanned Youtube to find out more about this phenomenon - and stumbled upon hundreds of amateur videos, displaying birth scenes. Some of those videos showed the situation in almost grotesque detail.
I conceived a rough idea of the series, which essentially shows the situation shortly after a child is born - always in a not so normal environment, such as a café, a train etc.
The series has a very compact and clear message: it shows mockumentary large-scale photographs depicting the trend to voluntarily destroy the intimate moment of child birth by recording it on videos, distributed on social networks. It consists of five pictures (the fifth currently being produced), each featuring different actors, plus one baby doll: Hannah. The doll was carefully modeled by mask maker Janine Drost (Festspiele Bregenz, Thalia Theater Hamburg). On the occasion of the
opening of the exhibition, it will be displayed, too, but will not be for sale.
Welcome, Hannah! (Scene 1) was produced in Zuckerfee, a café in the centre of Berlin, which was closed for that day. The team had about six hours to set up the lights, arrange the interior decoration, position the actors and modulate the lighting situation, using special daylight lamps and Fresnel lenses to achieve a movie-like lighting atmosphere.
More information will be published soon in the documentation Youborn, available at the gallery.
Landscapes of the Swedish-Mexican Border
Close to Grabowsee, an idyllic lake some 50 km north of Berlin, there's an abandoned hospital
hidden in a deep forest: an eerie place with an even more ghastful history. Dozens of derelict houses, damp cellars, overgrown paths, a completely gutted church and several other landmarks make the area resemble a war zone.
I discovered the location while looking for a place to produce some outdoor portraits with actors and actresses - and soon realized that it would be ideal to dedicate a new series to this hauntingly beautiful place. A series about a person being lost in a hopeless situation and hostile environment.
When I told actress Theresa Glanzberg about the find, she quickly agreed to take the main part of the series, and we drove to Grabowsee to meet the owner of the territory, Bernhard Hanke, in order to introduce him to our plan - and to make sure that the area is available for art productions.
Bernhard agreed, after we had showed him some examples of our earlier works, and a few weeks later we had assembled the team for the first takes of Landscapes of the Swedish-Mexican Border.
Such an absurd name, you might argue - and of course it sounds absurd. But is it really? The scenes of this series are composed in a way to make them look as if they were taken from some documentary footage about the aftermath of a 20th century war. And if we look at the history of the last century, we could as well find that almost anywhere in the world there have been conflicts and wars all over the place. The Swedish-Mexican border is just an allegorical expression, reminding us of the fact that war was (and still is) happening in too many places on Earth.
More pictures will be added to the slideshow soon.