Hans-Christian Schmid and Britta Knoeller • Producers
by Martin Blaney - German Films
30/06/2008 - It is now four years since German director Hans-Christian Schmid decided to launch his own production company 23|5 Filmproduktion.
"I had moved to Berlin in 2000 and I wanted to have here what I'd had with Claussen+Woebke+Putz in Munich," Schmid recalls. "A base for the films I wanted to make. A more egoistical reason was that I wanted to own my films. I was also interested in working with other people and not just thinking about my next film. It appealed to me to be involved in projects from the very beginning, and I was also keen to be part of the process after a film is completed, how it is released in the cinema."
"We looked for a concrete project to make this step into production and decided that Requiem [trailer, film focus] would be the right one to start off with," says Schmid, who was able to draw on the services of several people from Claussen+Woebke+Putz such as Uli Putz and Peter Dress to oversee the film's production. Requiem premiered in the Official Competition of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2006 where Sandra Hueller won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and the film was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize.
In August 2005, Schmid was joined by Britta Knoeller in the company after she had overseen the post-production on Requiem, and has also been a shareholder and managing director since May 2007.
23|5's second film – And Along Come Tourists [trailer] – was the company's first to be directed by someone other than Schmid. "Britta had read an early draft of the treatment and I met Robert Thalheim in Slubice because he had made a short film about the German-Polish border and it was shown there with my Distant Lights," Schmid recalls. "Funnily enough, this German-Polish relationship has not let go of me since Distant Lights: I have continued working with my Polish DoP Bogumil [Godfrejow] and the interest in our neighbor is just as keen as shown by my upcoming documentary Die wundersame Welt der Waschkraft [about the journey made by dirty bed-linen from Berlin's 5-star hotels to laundries in Poland]."
Currently in post-production, Die wundersame Welt der Waschkraft will be released theatrically in Germany by Piffl Medien and is being handled internationally by Bavaria Film International. At the same time, Schmid is preparing his own next feature project – Storm - which will see him reunited with Requiem screenwriter Bernd Lange, this time as co-writers. The €6.4 million project is set to be co-produced by 23|5 with Zentropa Berlin and Cologne, the Zentropa mother company in Denmark, and the new Zentropa Amsterdam outpost with an international cast this summer at locations in Bosnia and the Netherlands and interiors in a German studio. Piffl Medien is already lined up as German distributor, with Trust Film Sales as international sales agent.
"The film is about a prosecutor at the war tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague who is trying to persuade a witness to come to the court to give evidence," Schmid explains.
Meanwhile, Knoeller is working at the same time on the development of the German-French co-production La Lisiere by Geraldine Bajard which was presented at the German-French Rendez-Vous in Munich in 2006 and at the Capital Regions for Cinema co-production meeting during this year's Berlinale.
As Knoeller points out, there is no hard and fast division of labor between herself and Schmid in the company. On a superficial level, she looks after the production nuts-and-bolts, while Schmid focuses on the artistic side, "but I am not someone who is just interested in the figures. I am just as keen at being involved in the phase of story development and the discussions on the screenplays," she adds.
As for the future, 23|5 has plenty to keep it busy: a children's feature Mein Sommer mit Molomok is in development for production next year, and new projects by screenwriters Markus Busch and Daniel Nocke are currently in the treatment stage.