Fabian Maubach, Jochen Laube • Producers, Sommerhaus Filmproduktion
“We are not interested in producing films according to the book”
- German Films talked to producers Jochen Laube and Fabian Maubach about their work through their outfit Sommerhaus Filmproduktion
“It was never part of the plan to have three productions shooting at the same time,” says Jochen Laube about handling three shoots this spring with Fabian Maubach, his partner in the Ludwigsburg/Berlin-based production outfit Sommerhaus Filmproduktion. However, it all started much more modestly 13 years ago after Laube founded the company in his home town of Ludwigsburg in 2006.
The first production from the fledgling company was Christian Schwochow’s feature debut November Child [+see also:
film profile]. But then UFA/teamWorx producer Nico Hofmann brought an unexpected turn of events when Laube was offered the opportunity to set up and run the group’s South German production arm out of Ludwigsburg. “This meant that Sommerhaus was put on hold [until 2015] and I concentrated on building up what was essentially the arthouse unit of UFA Fiction,” Laube recalls.
The first project under the UFA umbrella was The Day I Was Not Born [+see also:
film profile] by Elena von Saucken and Florian Cossen. “We were given complete freedom in our choice of projects for our portfolio, making films like Stations of the Cross [+see also:
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film profile] by Dietrich Brüggemann, We Are Young. We Are Strong. [+see also:
film profile] by Burhan Qurbani as well as such documentaries as Thorsten Schütte’s Eat That Question - Frank Zappa in His Own Words [+see also:
film profile], as well as the Emmy-nominated three-parter Baron Von Münchhausen with Jan Josef Liefers in the title role.”
“Then, after eight years of working for the UFA group, we felt it was time to stand on our own feet again,” Laube continues, pointing out that inviting Jan Mojto’s Beta Cinema onboard as a shareholder in Sommerhaus Filmproduktion was “the result of a longstanding collaboration” with Beta who handled many of their productions in the past from The Day I Was Not Born to Münchhausen and now have the latest films from Sandra Nettelbeck, Burhan Qurbani and Caroline Link in its current sales line-up.” And Maubach adds, “It’s good to have a strong partner behind us who can draw upon an extensive infrastructure.”
Both producers say that it is difficult to see a common thread running through all of their productions to date: they have tried their hand at all kinds of genres – with the exception of horror – and have not focused on specific themes or subject matter. “What characterizes our films is the fact that we are prepared to take some risks when we embark on each project – we are not interested in producing films according to the book – but we know that the final result will be a really special kind of film,” Laube explains.
“As a producer, I don’t find it interesting to restrict oneself to one particular genre and say that you are just a producer of drama or a producer of romantic comedies,” Maubach suggests. “For me, it all depends on the story and the other creative element that have to spark some passion. In any case, originality is the key for us as producers,” he stresses, as shown by the company’s output to date.
Moreover, with time, really close friendships have developed between Sommerhaus and many authors, directors and crew members: “That makes working together so much easier when you realize that you speak the same ‘language’ and are on the same wavelength,” Maubach explains. “And the same goes for my work with Jochen, the fact that we can rely on one another without having to exchange too many words.”
This spring then saw the duo teaming up again with SWR for a TV film destined for a Wednesday evening primetime slot, Sebastian Marka’s Deus in Machina (working title) from a screenplay by Erol Yesilkaya and starring Friedrich Mücke. “We will certainly be remaining faithful to our great partnerships in so-called ‘linear television’,” Laube says, pointing out that Sommerhaus will be producing episodes of the European series Das Netz set in the world of international football for Germany’s Degeto next year.
Before then, the company is currently making its first foray into producing for the new streaming services with a three-parter for Netflix: Christmas Women (working title), directed by Samara Radsi from a screenplay by Katharina Eyssen, which will be shown to subscribers in 200 territories around the globe at the end of 2019.
While Sommerhaus has focused until now on producing works by German filmmakers, this doesn’t mean that Laube and Maubach don’t have their share of international experience. To start with, Laube was one of European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move in 2015 and Maubach is part of the TAP and ACE producers networks.
“Co-producing with foreign partners is becoming more and more important in the arthouse sector because we see that the budgets we need for quality production cannot be financed solely out of Germany,” Maubach suggests, pointing out that the next feature project by In the Aisles [+see also:
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film profile] director Thomas Stuber, Die Stillen Trabanten, is also likely to be structured as a European co-production for 2020. “Naturally, it involves a lot of work when you do a co-production, but it has always been a positive experience up until now,” he notes. “The fact that we haven’t been involved in any projects as a minority co-producer is not because we wouldn’t be open to such an idea,” Laube explains. “Being a reliable partner is key and we just were so busy in the last couple of years that we couldn’t say in good faith that we would come onboard given the company’s present structure.”
Looking to the future, Maubach says that Sommerhaus “is growing organically. We don’t want to become a top-heavy structure and have always been project- and quality-driven rather than focusing just on quick growth and a certain level of turnover uppermost in our minds. We appreciate having the freedom to make our own choices about the stories we produce and the freedom to work with the right kind of people to achieve these goals.”
“In essence, we try to remain a boutique operation,” Laube adds. “Admittedly we are now producing much more than we had imagined would be the case even two years ago, but we will always remain true to our credo that each production should have something unique and original about it!”
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