An Actress's Thoughts

Germany’s Top Cop Drama 2015

Germany’s Top Cop Drama 2015 and a Vision for 2016

Only two more new TATORT / CRIME SCENE (Germany’s top cop drama) will be screened this year, on December 26 and 27. Information on these 90 minute TV movies is already provided on the ARD channel’s website – main cast and a few crew members, and all this year’s others are available in an archive (Alle Fälle / All Cases), so I am able to present an analysis of the 40 TATORT premieres of 2015 today – and to make a suggestion for 2016.

The TATORTs 2015 Behind the Camera: Directing, Script and Camera

It looks like more than one person is filling in the information on the ARD TATORT website, at least what and how information is given for the films varies, sometimes you get only director and script writer, most times DoP and composer as well. The number of cast members differs.

Most strikingly, the hiring of female directors of photography hit an all time low. Not one single woman filmed a TATORT. Or to put it the other way around: all 40 TATORTs were filmed from a man’s point of view, or to be precise, from 30 men’s points of view. Camerawomen do exist, including those with TATORT experience, in 2012 for example 1 in 5 were filmed by a woman.
The share of women for script writing was also quite low with 14 % in 2015, this is not a good value genderwise (86 % of the plots were written by men), neither as far as employment policies go, women account for roughly 40 % of script writers in the industry (41,7 % in the Script Writers’ Guild and 36,9 % in the database of crew united). Some TATORTs were written by teams of two which led to 50 authors for the 40 scripts, but actually it was 7 women and 36 men, since some appeared more than once.
The share of female directors in 2015 was 10 %, 3 women – Claudia Garde (twice), Dagmar Seume and Nicole Weegmann – directed 4 TATORTs. The remaining 36 films were directed by 32 men.
The first two graphs show the team positions directing, script and DoP for the years 2011 to 15, on the left grouped by profession, on the right grouped by year.

The TATORTs 2015 In Front of the Camera: Female and Male Roles / Main Cast

We find an average of 12,5 roles for each of the 40 new TATORTs 2015 on the ARD website (which is not the complete cast of course), on average 4,7 female and 7,8 male roles, in a ratio of 1 to 1,7.
There were two TATORTs with the same number of roles for women and men, and two with more women (6 to 5 and 3 to 2 respectively).
The remaining 36 TATORTs had a male characters majority, eleven had at least twice as many male over female parts, five had at least three times as many and one had four times as many males (3 to 12).
The following graph shows the percentage shares of female and male characters for the TATORTs 2011 to 15. Unfortunately the website contained no information on the size of the roles, but the persistance of the male dominance in the main cast over the five years is significant as it is.

Tatort15_c_enMore than 60 % of the parts were given to men. Year after year. We are oh so used to this.
If we look at similar pictures for too long we run the risk of getting rather accustomed to them, of taking them as unchangeable truths, – this is what happened with maps and globes that are northwardly oriented. Of course this is not a truth, just an agreement, a tradition, picturing the earth and everything on it in maps with the North pointing upwards and the South pointing down, with all negative side effects.
What would happen if this were changed, if for example the United Nations would proclaim the year of the southward maps, if they would ask of all member countries to orientate their maps to the south, and have that as the all defining cardinal direction.
What would happen if a majority of states would then change their official maps etc, for example the weather chart on public television, the global map in the background at a press conference by the government, or the map of public transport in a major city? This would literally turn the world as we know it upside down.

According to ARD’s director of progamme Volker Herres , 20 % of the TATORTs shall be directed by women within the next three years. No set gender target was announced for the TATORT scripts or for the TATORT look, the DoP position. The gender distribution of the roles, their characterization and the plots were not a topic for discussion yet either as far as I know. But then how is the men’s programme TATORT to change into one for everybody?

The New Year is nearly upon us and so is Christmas. This is a good time for resolutions, wishes and believing in miracles. So:

What if…

Some call it visionary, some call it setting a target, some call it a challenge.
I am going to paint a picture. No inversion of the present state, not even a fair compromise like a 50:50 situation. No, I am keeping this low-key. I will show you the statistics for 2011-16 if next year the following parameters are met:

  • The roles’ gender diversity will reflect the ratio of women and men in the population
  • The share of women and men directors will correspond to the shares for female and male graduates from the film schools.
  • The share of women among script writers will correspond to their presence in the industry.
  • The ratio of camera women will correspond to the genderized quota for the Top 108 stock index companies as of Jan 1, 2016, as implemented by law this year (I wrote about this here: 18 Filmmakers’ Associations: Who is Representing the Members?).

It is easier to get used to changes if you can visualize these changes, so therefore I have completed the above used graphs for the upcoming year accordingly. So here are the new – feasible – pictures:

Casting: If we take the same number of characters for the main cast in 2016 as was published for 2015, then women would be cast 254 instead of 186 times and men 245 instead of 313 times. Aditional actresses are available. So it’s feasible.
In case you are bothered by the fact that in the left graph the blue column in 2016 is slightly taller than the pink one: On Dec. 31, 2014 the female population in Germany was slightly larger than the male. Did you find the gap between the two columns in the five preceding years irritating as well?

Directing: In order to achieve a 42 % share of female directors (this is the female share of film school graduates), 17 of 40 TATORTs would need to be directed by women. This is quite a leap from the 4 female directors in 2015. But there’s a first time for everything. The directors’ guild has 132 female members (in 2014), and in the crew united database 323 female directors are officially registered (June 4, 2014), the appeal by Pro Quote Regie has been signed by 325 female directors (Dec 22, 2015). So feasible.

Script: As we hear all the time: there is no such thing as the TATORT, no such thing as the TATORT plot, no such thing as the TATORT characters. However, as a rule, it’s men that devise the films, a ratio of 75 to 90 % was the rule for the TATORTs 2011-15. What will change when more scripts are written by women? We will be able to find out in 2016, wenn women get 40 % of the script jobs. On June 4, 2014 there were 94 female scriptwriters officially registered in the crew united database, 17 will be needed for the TATORTs 2016. Feasible.

Director of Photography: As mentioned, 2015 saw no camerawoman for a TATORT. Between 2011 and 2014 there had been eight, filming a total of 18 TATORTs with eight female and eleven male directors. So if four additional camerawomen are found for 2016 on top of the eight, then the 30 % quota is reached. Or each of the eight gets to film two TATORTs, then – for 40 films – there would even be a camerawomen quota of 40 %. Feasible.

On top of that there are the synergetic effect: once the 42 % female directors are established the 30 % camerawomen won’t be that far away since female directors work more often with female DoP than their male colleagues do. Female scriptwriters on the whole write less male dominated plots, so the Vision Cast with more female roles should not be that difficult to reach when there are considerably more female writers at work. The world of the TATORT would not be turned upside down, well, maybe just a little bit.

An actor colleague and sort of older twin brother, Til Schweiger (we share the same birthday) suggested a while ago that the title music for the TATORTs should be modernized.
My vision for 2016 is taking this modernization one step further. What unknown treasures could lie ahead of us?

Merry Christmas!