Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg • Producers
Diversity is their Motto
Munich producers Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg are definitely the "flavor of the month" at the moment. While their first feature film production The Lives of Others [+see also:
interview: Florian Henckel von Donners…
interview: Ulrich Muehe
film profile] received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year as well as being a box office hit around the globe, their TV output is also wowing audiences and TV buyers at home and abroad.
This success has not come overnight, but has been the result of many years of hard work and perseverance to carve their own niche in the German film and television scene. The partnership between Max and Quirin goes back in fact to their time at a grammar school in Munich. At the age of 19, they set up their joint production company Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion and began producing their first short films. "We shared a common perspective of what we wanted to do and decided to apply for the production class of the Academy of Television & Film (HFF) in Munich", Quirin Berg recalls. "We have developed a well-functioning system over the years, which satisfies our individual interests", Max Wiedemann says. "Quirin looks after the aspects of story development and contacts, while I am more focused on the production and financing. But all of the key decisions are made jointly by us both."
During their time at the HFF from 1999 to 2003, they produced a dozen short films which received more than 60 national and international prizes. "The shorts were a good way to draw attention to us as a kind of calling card for the company", Wiedemann explains. "As with later feature films and TV movies, we have always looked for challenges and wanted to put as much production value up on the screen as possible". "The HFF was an ideal platform for working with other creative people", he adds.
Their graduation from the HFF in 2003 marked the beginning of the duo's collaboration with fellow HFF student Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck on the realization of his feature debut The Lives of Others. Wiedemann & Berg had already produced his highly ambitious short Der Templer. The rest, as they say, is history: The Lives of Others went into production in autumn 2004 and proved to be a new challenge for all involved, both artistically and on a production level.
The film has been seen by over 2.1 million cinemagoers in Germany where it was distributed by Buena Vista International, and generated renewed interest in cinema "made in Germany" on its successful theatrical runs in France, the UK, Italy and North America, among others.
"A lot of energy was naturally spent over the past year on the distribution of The Lives of Others", Max Wiedemann explains. "But we had other projects running parallel to this one and consciously wanted to set other accents with our choice of projects so as to have a mix of arthouse and commercial films". Thus, their second feature production was the military comedy Kein Bund fürs Leben by Granz Henman, which Constantin Film has released theatrically this summer, and the "TV event" action drama Das Inferno - Flammen über Berlin, which was sold to over 30 territories before its first airing in May. " Our policy is not to restrict ourselves to one particular genre or style".
"The immediate effect of the success of The Lives of Others is that more people want to speak with us," Max Wiedemann adds. "We get more story idea proposals, more doors are open and there are more opportunities for getting financing on a national and international level. At the same time, one has to be aware that no public funder gives you preferential treatment just because of a particular success. The funders will look at each project individually."
Thus, keeping true to their eclectic approach, Wiedemann and Berg have two quite different projects being lined up for shooting in the second half of 2007. First up is the comedy U-911 set on a submarine with the well-known comedian Atze Schroeder under director Sven Unterwaldt (7 Dwarves). Shooting begins in mid-August at the Mediterranean Film Studios on Malta. And this September will see the duo working with fellow HFF graduate Marcus H. Rosenmueller (Grave Decisions [+see also:
film profile]) for local broadcaster BR on a new reworking of the story of Mathias Kneissl who was the last robber to be caught and executed in Bavaria at the turn of the last century. "'Rosi' is the ideal director for this project," Max Wiedemann suggests,"because it is a very powerful, very intense and very Bavarian story."
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.