by Charmaine Gorman –
The Down Under Berlin advanced preview screening of the hit Australian/Berlin film ‘Berlin Syndrome’ screens tomorrow! (Wed 24th May 2017) In celebration, we thought it only best to go directly to the boss lady herself, the film’s director Cate Shortland, and see what she says about filming in Germany, the struggle to stay true to filmmaking dreams and filming Berlin Syndrome is just 6 weeks.
DUB: You’ve filmed in Germany before whilst making ‘Lore’ which was set in 1945. Was it a very different experience filming ‘Berlin Syndrome’ as, although the foreign country was the same, the era and genre between these two films are worlds apart?
C.S: We shot LORE as a road movie, from Bavaria to the outskirts of Frankfurt, from Gorlitz to the North Sea. It was such an incredible experience for all of us, including the German crew. We saw so much nature and stood in so many verdant fields, some of them with terrible histories. Nature had mostly covered up the scars of war.
We shot at Hitler’s radio bunker, which is now covered in vines, completely abandoned.
Berlin Syndrome was shot in a deserted apartment building in Prenzlauer Berg. Every day I would walk to work, past the wall, and often at lunch time, the crew would go to Lebanese Babel for lunch. The two experiences were so different. Both great.
DUB: In a relatively short filming time over two countries for ‘Berlin Syndrome’, (6 weeks) what were the greatest challenges involved in getting this film completed?
C.S: Time is always the challenge when you have none. Filming sometimes 6,7.8 minutes a day on feature is tough on a single camera. And trying to make something truthful and real for the actors and not show that we are constantly rushing. The actors often got one or two takes. They were great and always ready to go and sometimes the speed that worked created its own momentum.
Cate Shortland has made some award winning short films in her career including Strap on Olympia (1995), Pentuphouse (1998), Flower Girl (2000), and Joy (2000).
DUB: When you were first starting as a filmmaker, did you used to submit your shorts films and early work to film festivals like ours around the world, and do you think they are still important?
C.S: The short film festival I went to first was Oberhausen in Germany. It had a profound effect on me. I think now the internet changes things but having a place which is focused on shorts and a dialogue around them is wonderful and feeds creativity and future growth.
Not limited to film, Cate has also directed for TV and spent three years working on the hit series The Secret Life Of Us. But, her feature films are what kick us in the gut and create a lump in the throat. Somersault (2004) was a breakaway hit. Lore, which she describes above, had its release in 2012 and now Berlin Syndrome is set to have its German release this week.
DUB: Projects like these often take years to nurture and see to completion, any advice for filmmakers who are finding the years a little tough and long?
C.S: If your heart is inside the project it will keep beating. That kind of addiction to a project, where you are on a train and something or someone takes you straight back to the idea. Where the idea and the characters stay with you. I think that is what keeps it alive. Tenacity and emotional vulnerability are important in equal measure. Be strong and always open.
Thank you to Cate Shortland for opening up to DUB for this exclusive interview. Cate’s films are inspiring and undoubtedly entertaining, and Down Under Berlin cannot wait to get this party started in Berlin!
NEWS!!!! – Moviemento has opened a second cinema to cope with all the fabulous people coming to see the Berlin Syndrome. Thank you Moviemento! There are still tickets left, book yours here.
Stay for a bit after the film and enjoy an Australian wine in the Moviemento lounge. Wines supplied by The Australian Embassy Berlin, who are helping to support Aussie film and Down Under Berlin.
Charmaine Gorman is an Australian actress and writer living in Berlin with her family. As a content writer and editor, she works for many clients around the world, she also facilitates the Robert Marchand acting and directing workshops in Berlin.
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