SchspIN

An Actress's Thoughts

2. January 2022
by SchspIN
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Looking Forward, Looking Back: Tiger, Cow and Mouse

SchspIN in times of Corona: 23 articles in two years

2022 has just begun, 寅年 (toradoshi), the Year of the Water Tiger. As the Japan Times wrote: “The slow, gentle and hardworking nature of the ox, which manifested the mood of 2021, will be replaced by the speed, strength and power of the tiger in 2022.”

Annual animal as a Japanese mobile phone tag: left for 2010, right for 2022. Photo SchspIN

In a fortnight, on January 16, my blog SchspIN – Thoughts of an Actress will be nine years old. That’s a long time, during which I have published over 150 analyses, comments, articles. – By the way, on 20 January NEROPA will be five years old, but that’s a topic for another day.

In the first three years of SchspIN, I created annual indexes where texts were sorted by topic to make them easier to find. Unfortunately, I did not continue this. But by the 10th anniversary at the latest, there should be a comprehensive index and also some design flaws should be fixed (by that I mean, among other things, that the current theme undermines the comment function).

Anyway, let‘s have a look at my blog’s activities in Corona times: here‘s a compilation of the 11 articles of the last year of the cow / ox and the 12 articles of the year before last of the mouse / rat. Have fun (re-)discovering them!

2020

In the first Corona year, the 4-departments-check – directing, script, camera and music – on German top cop drama TATORT were the biggest group with five articles. They were produced in cooperation with WIFT Germany on the occasion of the “50 years of TATORT” anniversary. In addition, the second text on violence against women in film* appeared in February, followed by thoughts on some incomprehensible German Order of Merit awards in March. In the summer I wrote a text on the Corona situation.

Annual animal as a Japanese mobile phone tag: for 2020. Photo SchspIN

12.2.20: New Campaign: #morethanCorpses

6.3.20: A Commentary on German Public Radio

20.3.20: If I had the German “Order of Merit”…

24.3.20: TV crime dramas – We are the Jury!

12.6.20: Carpe Temporem – Seize the Time!

17.8.20: WIFT Germany & SchspIN on 50th Birthday of Top Cop Drama. Part 1

28.8.20: WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 2: Directors

8.9.20: WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 3: Writers

5.10.20: WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 4: Cinematographers

5.11.20: WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 4: Composers

13.12.20: NEROPA-Webinar in Cooperation with WIFT Germany on Dec. 17.

22.12.20: Karin Hanczewski – An Inside-Story

2021

Annual animal as a Japanese mobile phone tag: left for 2009, right for 2021. Photo SchspIN

In the second Corona year I published three investigations in front of and behind the camera: NDR Prime Time Krimis (reprint of an analysis for the Film and Media Office of Lower Saxony), Filmfest München and Deutscher Fernsehpreis. In the last quarter, the trilogy “Old Women. Visibility”. As well as the 3rd text of the “Violence against Women on Television” trilogy.

28.1.21: A Put Two and Two Together: Culture and Vaccinations

21.3.21: Is Germany’s Top Cop Drama Getting into Trouble about Quotas?

16.4.21: Fair Participation: Yes, it is possible.

22.6.21: Rosy times for Men in NDR Prime-Time Cop Dramas

18.7.21: Babylon Testosterone, Generously Funded

26.7.21: Filmfest München 21: New German Cinema & TV Movies

15.9.21: Not bad if you like Men Productions: German TV Awards 21

29.10.21: Old Women. Visibility. Part I

1.11.21: Old Women. Visibility. Part II

29.11.21: Old Women. Visibility. Part III

13.12.21: Strong Woman, Punch her in the Face!

2022

I am currently working on two studies that I will publish here in due course, and also another text is already in the works. So feel free to check back!

And if you’ve always wanted to know how you can support SchspIN: share blog articles you like or are interested in, invite friends or colleagues to stop by or subscribe to the blog, comment on articles, post SchspIN links on your social networks (but mention 1) the source and 2) my handle if I’m also active in the network = Instagram / Twitter: @schspin, Linkedin: Belinde Ruth Stieve).

By the way, this was also a topic at the 2-year anniversary of SchspIN, when there was a register, cake and a link to the blog Spreeblick by Tanja and Johnny Haeusler and the 2015 text “If you want to support blogs” (in German).

Citing sources and including authors should be a matter of course, but unfortunately many people forget this when they post pictures, photos, insights, works and content of others on social media. But now that a new year has just begun, this makes for a good resolution!

And finally: I wish all old and new readers of SchspIN a happy, exciting, insightful, healthy and cheerful new year. Thank you for your interest, your messages, your criticism, your encouragement and your suggestions. (Unfortunately, the comment function is not working properly at the moment, but what you write will get to me, and perhaps I will be able to get it working again in the foreseeable future). Good luck with your projects!

____________

the first part was Taking a Shower on 3.5.17.

13. December 2021
by SchspIN
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Strong Woman, Punch her in the Face!

Making Women Characters suffer on Television

Warning: this text is about, among other things, violence against women portrayed on television.

Warning: some of the photographs used may cause unpleasant feelings.

I recently read the appeal by Liz Tucker, Chair of Women in Film and Television UK, on the issue of violence against women in fictional programs. It began with the question “Why do so many shows feature violence against women?” – which goes with two older texts of mine, one published, one unpublished, which I will present today.

WFTV UK is asking Why?

Liz Tucker published the following on 1 November (You can find the full text on the WFTV UK website and on Broadcast Now, emphasis in the quote by me): 

Every night of the week across a wide range of broadcast platforms, if I so wish, I can watch stories about women being raped, decapitated and murdered in ever more imaginative and gruesome ways. As it happens, I don’t wish, because I think the time has come for all of us working in the broadcast industry to think much more carefully about the message we are sending out when we continually produce TV crime dramas and documentaries that have women as the central victims. Recent years have seen an avalanche in this type of programming and there seems to be a spiralling competition between some writers and directors to escalate the violence and come up with ever more graphic and disturbing ways to portray the murder of women. (…) Would it really be so hard today to come up with imaginative new plots that don’t involve the brutalisation and murder of women?

No. Of course not. It just has to be wanted.

A tick is biting into a human breast. Photo: SchspIN

Part 1 and 2 of the Trilogy

Continue Reading →

29. November 2021
by SchspIN
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Old Women. Visibility. Part III

Here is the last episode of my Old Women. Visibility. Trilogy.

Old Women, visible. Made younger.

In Part I from Oct. 29 I mentioned, among other things, that it is not uncommon to rejuvenate characters in film and television through casting, i.e. to have older characters played by younger actors. Since I’ve received several questions about this, I‘d like to talk about this today again, with a bit more detail.

Can they actually do that?

A never-ending discussion revolves around the question whether actors can take on a role that, unlike them, is white / black / brown / Eastern European / Asian / flawless / handicapped / young / old / good-looking / fat / slim / heterosexual / homosexual / transgender / female / male / stable / psychotic / depressed / boring / stubborn / cheerful or has a different nationality and mother tongue. Many deny this, at least in relation to certain characteristics, others say “Yes, because you don’t have to have murdered anyone to....”.

I think it depends.

Regarding age: Is it bad if someone younger is cast for an older role and the older age is simply claimed, or if a role is unceremoniously made younger or older so that the desired casting fits?

I think that also depends.

Dealing with Age/ing

Continue Reading →

Old Women. Visibility. Part II

1. November 2021 by SchspIN

From our Society – Older Visible Women

A few days ago I wrote in the text Old Women. Visibility. Part I that I would compile and publish a gallery of “older and old women from real life. You can now view it here, either as a general overview, or click through the portraits individually and read the German explanations under the pictures: Name, age in the photo, profession and photographer:in / Common Licence. This information should also appear when you move your mouse over the pictures (the photos also function as an occupation game, which is why I have added the occupation to the female politicians).

As I said, there are many female politicians, on the one hand quite banal, because they are so easy to find as a larger group of older women in Wikipedia, with public domain photos. But there are also other women, I have, for example, looked through the lists of the Order of Merit Ribbon Awards – which are mostly made up of men, but a few women have also been awarded. Most of them have an entry in Wikipedia, but many without a picture. And women scientists, writers and a few actresses and a few under 40 are there too.

What I haven’t done is to make a percentage distribution of all possible population groups. But I think the pictures are already much more diverse in terms of older women than those who populate German fictional TV.

As a reminder: “Since they are mostly official photos or photos of professional appearances, the women were of course also made up and the pictures were certainly also edited, which is perfectly okay.” Nevertheless, they look different from PR photos of older actresses.

We Should be seeing Women like These on Fictional TV Programmes

This gallery contains 0 photos

29. October 2021
by SchspIN
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Old Women. Visibility. Part I

Yesterday I was standing at the checkout in an organic supermarket. The cashier asked the customer in front of me if she had a student card – that must have given her a discount. The woman went completely berserk with pleasure for having been mistaken for a student. She was wearing a mask of course and a beanie, but from her eyes, among other things, I would have guessed she was easily in her late 30s or early 40s. Anyway. She was beaming all over, “This is the most beautiful thing I’m going to experience today!” It was 10:45 a.m.. What a prospect.

Hardly anyone wants to be old, people are turning 60 years young, old has become a dirty word. Actually, not always, in German. There‘s the phrase „Was geht ab, Alter?“ / “What’s up, dude?” – originally from youth language. Alter (dude) literally translates to old man. I’ve never heard the word “Alte” (old woman) in a similar context. Have you?

Old Women, visible. In Film and Television.

Being thought of as younger is enormously important for many people. Not only for women, by the way, but especially for them, because youth mania with everything that goes with it, partly presented by society, partly by the media, leaves its mark. The Hamburg-based initiative Pink Stinks (“Magazine, campaign office and an educational organisation against sexism.”) has been addressing the connection between a format like GERMANY’S NEXT TOP MODEL and slimness mania up to bulimia among young female viewers for years.

Age and eternal youth are also topics in the film and television industry. If a – famous – actress is over 50 or 60 or 70, it is always emphasised that she looks at least ten, if not twenty years younger. Famous older actresses play much younger roles (e.g. still a pregnant woman at 53), which – if you didn’t know their age – they could often pass as, because they work on their appearance and / or have it worked on and look tremendous. When older actresses like Iris Berben, Senta Berger or Hannelore Elsner once showed a grey hair in a role, it was highlighted as a special achievement. Continue Reading →

15. September 2021
by SchspIN
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Not bad if you like Men Productions: German TV Awards 21

The German Television Awards 21 – Nominations, Fictional Formats

Last week, a colleague from Cologne drew my attention to this year’s nominations for the German Television Prize, which will be awarded tomorrow, September 16, in Cologne. In response, I looked at the nominated fictional productions and television creators through light blue and pink coloured glasses and made an analysis.

There are four categories for films and series in this award: Best Television Film, Best Multi-part Features, Best Drama Series and Best Comedy Series, for each of which three productions were nominated. In addition, there are the individual awards for Directing, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing and Music, with three productions nominated in each category. For the set design nominations, production design, costume design and, for two of three productions, make-up design were combined. In addition, there are the awards for Best Actress and Best Actor with five nominees each, partly for two productions.

6-Divisions-Check of all Productions with Nomination/s

A total of 22 productions appear in all fictional television awards, 7 television films and 15 serial formats. Once again, many crime dramas, but interestingly no TATORTs (“crime scene“, Germany‘s top cop drama)

The first figure shows the proportion of women and men for the six departments directing, screenwriting, cinematography, sound, editing and music (6-divisions-check). Yes, there is no television award for sound, I wonder why (cue sound and vision), but since the sound engineers are usually in my 6-divisions-checks, I’m also including them here:

Continue Reading →

26. July 2021
by SchspIN
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Filmfest München 21: New German Cinema & TV Movies

From July 1 to 10, 2021, this year’s Munich Film Festival took place, for real, in an open-air edition. Four awards were announced in advance, Senta Berger and Robin Wright received the CineMerit Award, Franka Potente the Margot Hielscher Award and Małgorzata Szumowska was the centre of the Homage, so to speak (The Cineastic Foursome).

An acquaintance suggested that I should take a look at the New German Cinema and New German Television sections, especially with regard to female screenwriters – so here goes!

New German Cinema & New German TV Movies at the FFM

All films in the New German Cinema section were invited by a selection committee, on the other hand, broadcasters can put forward films for the New German TV Movies section. What both groups have in common is that the films must be premieres, at least German premieres, ideally European or world premieres.

This means that the cinema films are predominantly early films, i.e. first, second or third films of the respective directors or producers – because those who are already established would probably prefer to show their film in Berlin, Tokyo, Toronto or Cannes. The situation is different for television films, where the festival merely has to take place before the first broadcast.

The following first figure shows the women and men as script writers or directors for the twelve films in the New German Cinema series – with a majority of women in both departments:


FFM: New German Cinema, Writers and Directors

The second figure shows the women and men responsible for scripts and directing for the thirteen films in the New German TV Movies section; here the men are in the majority in both departments..

FFM: New German TV Movies

The third figure gives a more detailed breakdown of authorship for the cinema and television sections. Were the scripts written individually or in teams, and if the latter, who was in them? The majority of the scripts were written by individuals – which is not really a surprise:


FFM 21: New German Cinema & TV Movies

Differences or Coincidences

So we were able to establish that there are very different conditions in the two sections. In the case of the New German Cinema, the proportion of women is higher, well over 50%, both in scriptwriting and in directing, and in the case of the New German TV Movies, the proportion of men is well over 50% in both departments. I already mentioned that the selected cinema films are ‘early films’ of the directors in their respective careers. However, this does not apply to the television films, where there are a number of older and more established film people both as authors and directors. It is also interesting to note that of all the cinema films, there was only one director who was not involved in writing the script, writing it alone or in a team (LIEBER THOMAS). Among the television productions, there is only one film (GELIEFERT) which was written and directed by the same person.

Let‘s not forget, there are only 25 films in all, which is not good representativeness (should this term exists, – if not: Tadaa! I have just invented it).

And in front of the camera

In my last text – or the last two? – I only looked at team positions offscreen and not at the distribution of roles, which has been requested by various readers. Therefore, here‘s an analysis of the first roles and the main casts (as they are given on the FFM website entries for the films).

FFM 21: New German Cinema and TV Movies, Main Casts

Interesting: in the cinema films, there are more men at the centre of the story (= male first roles), in television more women. I know too little about the television films and also about the other television films that may have been submitted to be able to interpret this meaningfully.

For the main casts, the most important roles, it is the other way round for the two sections; in the cinema films the proportion of women’s roles is over 50 %, in television it is under 50 %. The former could be related to the high proportion of women among the authors, and the latter to the phenomenon of “now we have a female lead, that’s enough” – and could possibly change through the use of NEROPA. But that is a topic for another day.

The last figure shows the age ranges for the female and male first roles, or rather the actors and actresses cast, for both film series.


FFM 21: New German Cinema & TV Movies. Age Span First Roles

In New German Cinema, there were no first-role actors over 60, though there were two actresses: Corinna Harfouch (62) and Ulrike Willenbacher (65), the oldest actor was Christoph Kaiser (56). In television there was one actress over 70 (Maren Kroymann), the oldest actor is Joachim Król (63).

Roles in cinema being younger overall than on television is something I had already established many years ago, at least for the first roles (Age: A Picture is worth a Thousand Words). But again: there really aren’t many films in these FFM series, so we should be careful about drawing any authoritative conclusions.

What might be interesting, though, is a comparison of the New German Cinema and New German TV Movies at the Munich Film Festival over the last 20 years. But that’s a task for another day.

18. July 2021
by SchspIN
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Babylon Testosterone, Generously Funded

I’m getting so tired of it.

Why are feature films and television drama still so often produced without women, why does a menmenmen series get several million €€€ from public film funding, in addition to the million €€€ of a public broadcaster? Why don’t those in charge at the participating broadcasters make more women behind the camera and gender-dramaturgical counselling mandatory?

The TV series BABYLON BERLIN is hailed as “the most exciting and most innovative series from Germany ever” (Christine Strobl 2018) and as “an important part of the series offensive in the ARD media library” (Florian Hager 2020), by decision-makers in the industry who should be aware of Germany’s constitution. Shouldn’t equality also entitle everyone to equal access to film and television work?

BABYLON BERLIN, quite an expensive male gaze

On 15.11.18 I published a text about the German crime series BABYLON BERLIN, in which I pointed out the impressive production CLASH OF FUTURES as a much better alternative (Two German Series: BABYLON BERLIN and CLASH OF THE FUTURES). At that time I also wrote that I didn‘t really care for BABYLON BERLIN, a sentiment I had right from the start: the original novel‘s Charlotte, a law student and stenotopist for the police, became the series‘ Charlotte, part-time prostitute and police employee. And this feeling, this dislike stuck with me throughout all the episodes – an inglorious low point was the (approx. ten-minute?) sequence in which Charlotte Ritter and DC Rath ended up in the water with their car and sank, and she wanted to sacrifice herself and drown so that he could go on living. Continue Reading →

22. June 2021
by SchspIN
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Rosy times for Men in NDR Prime-Time Cop Dramas

NDR prime-time Cop Dramas

I was invited to do a study of NDR crime films for the current newsletter of the Film & Medienbüro Niedersachsen. With kind permission, here is a translation of the article (pp. 25-27).

Titel Rundbrief des Film und Medienbüros Niedersachsen

The share of women in crews and casts is well below 50%

In early May, NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk North German Public Broadcaster) surprised us with the news that the cop drama TATORT: SCHATTENLEBEN, currently being filmed in northern Germany, is particularly diverse, both in front of and behind the camera. For example, 17 percent of those involved are BIPoC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), and 65 percent of the head positions are held by women. NDR and the production company Wüste Medien GmbH are using the so-called Inclusion Rider for the first time. The initiative came from director Mia Spengler. The goal of the concept, which originated in Hollywood, is to have as diverse a staff and cast as possible.

NDR has been focusing on diversity in front of the camera for many years. We believe in diversity as a whole,” says head of television film Christian Granderath in the aforementioned press release mentioned. Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to NDR’s prime-time cop dramas and thrillers of recent years, at least not when it comes to gender equality. Neither in front of nor behind the camera.

I analyzed the share of women for the six departments directing, screenwriting, camera, sound, editing and music of four television series with 90-minute films from the prime-time program: NORD BEI NORDWEST, the USEDOM CRIME STORIES, the NDR TATORTE and the NDR POLIZEIRUF 110.The period under investigation is 2017 to 2020.Two major studies by the FFA German Federal Film Board and public Broadcasters ARD and ZDF (“Gender und Film” and “Gender und Fernsehfilm”) were published at the beginning of 2017. By then, it should have become clear to the industry that there is a considerable gender imbalance in front of and behind the camera and that there is an urgent need for action.
The series NORD BEI NORDWEST has been on air since 2014.There were nine films from 2017 to 2020. The following figure shows the percentage of men in pink and the percentage of women in light blue:

Continue Reading →

16. April 2021
by SchspIN
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Fair Participation: Yes, it is possible.

No April Fool’s joke: half of the TATORT screenplays by female authors – #jaesgeht

On 1 April, I posted the ARD news on Instagram that half the top cop drama TATORT’s scripts will be by female authors, i.e. written by one or more women in  2022. Not by mixed teams, but without any men at all:

This post was liked umpteen times and also shared in various Instastories. The only criticism of the post, which was voiced several times, related to the half-sentence “and we are looking forward to this challenge“. Because really, what is supposed to be a challenge about finding female writers or teams of female writers for 18 scripts?

The question of an April Fool’s joke was raised twice, by crew united and by composer Verena Marisa, who had even looked for a press release from ARD and found none.

The ARD or the Tatort-Instagram account, which were tagged, did not react. Neither with a “Good idea, we’ll do that“, nor with a denial, nor with a “Haha, funny“.

Because in fact, it was an April Fool’s joke. And such a joke works best when the message is outrageous but not improbable. Continue Reading →