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Slipping into the producer’s role 2Pilots Filmproduction

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Jörg Siepmann • Producer

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- As 2Pilots Filmproduction approached its 15th anniversary this year, the company has had one of its busiest twelve months with the production of four features and several 45-minute documentary formats

Jörg Siepmann • Producer

As Cologne-based 2Pilots Filmproduction approached its 15th anniversary this year, the company founded by Jörg Siepmann (photo) and Harry Flöter in 1998 has had one of its busiest twelve months with the production of four features and several 45-minute documentary formats. Not that Siepmann and Flöter are complaining.

The early years of 2Pilots saw the duo producing their co-directed shorts Hotel (1999) and Silverstar (2000) as well as Siepmann’s 2003 documentary Golden Lemons before they handled Arne Nolting and Jan Martin Scharf’s fiction feature Truth or Dare which won the Studio Hamburg Young Director’s Award 2004 and the Student Jury’s Award at the Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival in Saarbrücken in 2005, among several other prizes.

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“Harry’s background was from writing while I was more in production,” Siepmann explains, pointing out that they had never studied Production formally like many of their producer colleagues. “I think, looking back over these 15 years, that one can see this is something which distinguishes us from other producers: that we get involved more in the creative aspects of the filmmaking process.”

“From the outset, we planned to have a production mix of fiction feature films and documentaries, although we don’t make such a big differentiation between them because both formats can be just as interesting and challenging to produce.”

“Werner Herzog once said that all of his films are staged, including the documentaries, and that’s a view I also share,” Siepmann ventures. “It was never a strategic plan to have this kind of mix but it evolved more through us working with the filmmakers. 

Looking at their approach to developing projects and the division of labor Siepmann admits that he tends “to be the one who is more focusing on the physical production and financing of the projects although I am also involved in their development stage, while Harry has concentrated more on this and recently paid more attention to technical aspects. So, in many respects, we do complement one another.”

“In the past three years, we have reached a stage where we are now having more productions commissioned from us by the TV stations,” he continues. “This then gives us the time and freedom to spend more time developing pet projects in the area of feature films.”

Last year, Ludwig brought 2Pilots on board Julien Temple’s latest music documentary Children of the Revolution: This is Rio and negotiated a theatrical distribution deal for Germany with Rapid Eye Movies and recently secured a sales agent for Nana Neul’s Silent Summer, which had its world premiere at the Munich Film Festival at the end of June.

Meanwhile, Siepmann and Flöter have not neglected building up their own network of contacts across Europe through participation in such MEDIA-funded programs and workshops as Quinoxe (on two occasions as an author and producer, respectively), EKRAN, ARISTA and AKME.

Finally, if you are asking yourselves how the company’s name came about – whether it originated from the producers’ passion for air flight and a jet set life, Siepmann has to curb one’s imagination getting out of control!

“The name comes from a film Harry had as a graduation project at KHM about the crew on a container ship and there was a cabin with the name ‘2 Pilots’ above the door. The fact is that on bigger ships there is a cabin especially reserved for the pilots who are guiding the ship through, say, the Panama or Suez Canals. And that’s how we came to our name.”

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