An Actress's Thoughts

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

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
1 Comment

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
Comments Off on Rosy times for Men in NDR Prime-Time Cop Dramas

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
Comments Off on Fair Participation: Yes, it is possible.

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 →

21. March 2021
by SchspIN

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

TATORTs. TV Ratings. Quota for Women Off-Screen.

Today I am looking at the 36 new episodes of German Top Cop Drama TATORT in 2020, comparing the shares of men and women in the 6-departments-check (direction, screenplay, camera, sound, editing and music), and analyzing the development from 2011 to 20. In addition, I will check how these films fare under the “2 from 6” departments rule. Finally, I will discuss the TATORTs in respect to the TV ratings and a female quota, with a short detour to the demands set up by Pro Quote Bühne (Pro Quota Stage).

The 6-Departments-Check 2020

It was already apparent during the summer break that 2020 was going to be a very good year for female TATORT directors, with a total of 16 of the 36 TATORTs coming in at 44.4 %. At the other end are the female sound recordists, or not, they were not engaged for TATORTs for the third year in a row. Whereby this is not quite true, the highest proportion of women is once again achieved in the average, this time with 77.3 % female editors. For comparison: Alumni 51:49, Crew United database 35.5 : 64.5.

6 Departments, German Top Cop Drama

What about the problem child scriptwriting? Continue Reading →

28. January 2021
by SchspIN
Comments Off on Put Two and Two Together: Culture and Vaccinations

Put Two and Two Together: Culture and Vaccinations

Good Deeds should be Done without Hesitation

Culture for Vaccinateds from March 1

• Summary: Bread and Play – Two Birds with One Stone
• Why does culture need a new perspective?
• Why do old people need a new perspective?
• The big Chance
• Spoilsport
• The Proposals do not go far enough
• Why is no one shouting „Here!“
• What can be done? #Kultur4Geimpfte0103

Bread and Play – Two Birds with one Stone

Theatres, concert halls, museums, galleries, cinemas, leisure centers, literature houses, district centers, … they are currently closed to protect the population. This is sad for the public, and hard for the active people concerned – quite a few cultural workers have thus fallen into financial hardship through no fault of their own.
Many cultural institutions had already developed comprehensive hygiene concepts for the changed situation, the events on the stages were re-choreographed, everyone kept their distance, people spoke, shouted and sang to the front rather than to their colleagues, orchestras were decimated with large distances between the desks. And also in the auditorium rules of distance were implemented – you may remember the pictures of long empty rows with isolated audience members.
Since the end of December, people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, initially in homes and nursing homes for residents and also for nursing and medical staff. In the next step, people over 80 living at home may now also be vaccinated. We can therefore assume that by the end of February, several million people will no longer be able to contract Covid-19 after their second vaccinations – and according to current knowledge. Mainly old people.
That’s perfect! Old people and culture, they go together. Not only since today. Therefore #Culture4Vaccinated0103 from March 1:
Open the galleries – but only for the vaccinated.
Open the concert halls – but only for vaccinated people.
Open the cinemas – but only for vaccinated people.
Open the cultural centers – but only for vaccinated people.
Open the museums – but only for vaccinated people.
Open the theatres – but only for vaccinated people.

As far as I know, there have been no corona infections, no corona hotspots in theatres, concert halls or museums in the last 12 months. Check the hygiene concepts on and behind the stages, in the administration, the workshops, the postcard shop….. You just have to be careful that artistic and non-artistic personnel keep their distance, wear FFP2 masks and protect each other.
The audience – the vaccinated – do not take any risk and presumably do not pose any danger to others, even according to the current state of research.* And because only vaccinated people are allowed into the performances, all seats can be filled, not just 20% with large distances.

In 2020, the value-added tax was specially lowered to increase consumption. Great, and now let’s kick off cultural consumption. Let the first vaccinated people be the first to be allowed back, the rest of us will follow when we are also vaccinated in the summer or when the infection figures are so low that cultural institutions will be reopened to everyone under certain conditions.

*The question of whether vaccinated people can infect other people does not yet seem to be clearly answerable. But basically it doesn’t matter for this proposal. The vaccinated can disinfect their hands at the entrance to the cultural institution, go with everyday masks to the ticket control and take off the mask only at the place. Only vaccinated people sit in the hall, and they cannot infect each other because they are vaccinated. In museums, sufficient distance and FFP2 masks must be provided for ticket and supervisory personnel. For visitors among themselves the distances do not apply, for the reason mentioned.

Bread for the cultural workers, games for the elderly.

Why does culture need a new perspective?

At present, ‘culture’ is being cancelled or postponed (see, for example, the program of the Elbphilharmonie and Laeiszhalle in Hamburg), or shifted as far as possible into digital spheres.

Concerts take place without an audience, orchestras, solo artists and bands are on stage with due intervals, and the audience can experience them on the radio, via livestream, on demand or in media libraries free of charge or with online tickets from a distance.

The house is closed, the situation difficult – but the Berliner Philharmoniker play their concerts, as best they can, in front of cameras and microphones. (Source DLF Kultur)

In the 2020/21 season, in addition to its concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie, the DSO will also be regularly present on the programs of Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Deutschlandfunk and rbbKultur, as well as on other ARD broadcasting stations, thanks to its radio partners and shareholders. (Source Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin).

Many concert halls and orchestras do similar things. For other musicians it is often more difficult – they do not perform on large stages but in smaller cultural institutions, clubs or churches.

Galleries and art halls are also closed in real life and exhibit at most virtually:

To counteract the spread of the Corona virus, the Hamburger Kunsthalle will be closed from November 2, 2020 to February 14, 2021. There will be no exhibition program during this period. Our analog event program is expected to start on February 2, 2021.
Still open and accessible from everywhere remain our offers in the digital space – use our offers on the website, explore our online collection or follow us on social media. (Source Hamburger Kunsthalle)

Cinemas are closed. They sell tickets for future screenings, or hope for solidarity, such as through the fundraising campaign FORTSETZUNG FOLGT – Berliner Programmkinos retten:

From exclusive theatrical releases to the craziest festivals & most interesting events to great arthouse films, cinema is reinvented every day on 78 screens here in the capital. Due to the current creative pause, Berlin’s cinema landscape is threatened in its existence. We would like to maintain this diversity for you in the future & for this we need your support!

Museums closed. Cultural centers closed. District culture closed. The theatres are no better off, no public performances! Although even before the shutdown, many theatres and ensembles had made an effort to strictly follow the Corona prevention requirements in their rehearsals and performances – and so they continue to rehearse in many places. One colleague told me about a two-person play:

The whole production was corona compliant, with a hygiene consultation at the beginning of the rehearsal period, the two of us never came closer than 1.5 m to each other on stage, and when we spoke loudly it was 3 m. We kept to all of this, or rather we kept to it. We complied with all of this, or had to comply with it. And we were also not allowed to eat together privately, for example, or take each other in the arm or anything. And otherwise the hygiene concept for the whole house, that is, the other people at the theatre, was very good and very strict. (Source personal conversation)

What I want to say with these examples: the conditions are favorable, quite a lot of people are ready! In many places there are already corona-safe plays, dances and music, exhibitions – and soon there will be a possible corona-inoculated audience. Curtain up, cell phones off: Let the shows begin!

Then cultural workers can finally work in front of an audience again. And earn money in the process:

The Corona pandemic has had devastating consequences for the cultural and creative industries. Many small cultural institutions in particular are on the financial brink. For artists, their very existence is at stake. The German government is helping with billions of euros in support and other funding. (Source Federal Government 20.11.20)

Why do old people need a new perspective?

Many old people love culture, they go to concerts, to museums and galleries, to the theatre, can recite poems and passages of text they learned long ago, or hum along to songs and arias. They read a lot or have read a lot. And they watch the public television program – although they hardly appear there themselves, especially if they are women.

In Corona times, out of caution – perhaps also because it was easier – we diverted old people to the siding even more clearly than usual. A pandemic? We close the old people’s homes to visitors and no longer let the inmates out. Hospitals as well. So that nothing happens to them, people still living independently are to remain in their apartments and houses, in social and spatial isolation, contact restriction of the highest form, ten, eleven months already. The old people are given a tablet, taught video call, and it is forgotten that most of them have hardly seen more than a handful of different people up close for almost a year and that they are slowly becoming lonely. Social contacts in public, shopping, in the park or at the bus stop, singing, crafting or dancing, chair gymnastics or game night have been taken away from them, they are supposed to stay at home for their own safety, ‘ideally’ in permanent lockdown.

Now the vaccinations have started and old people, those in homes and others over 80 get if they want two shots three weeks apart to become immune to Covid-19. This is probably a great relief for them and also for their friends and relatives. To what extent their life, their quasi-permanent quarantine everyday life will change is unclear. Will we soon see more old people in stores, on the streets, in the park?

Younger people also currently experience loneliness very strongly, but unlike many seniors, they would rather have the chance to find their way out of isolation again“. sociologist Janosch Schobin is quoted in DLF Kultur.

One such chance could be the opening of cultural institutions to vaccinated people on March 1.

The big Chance

Of course, not all vaccinated people will want to or be able to go to cultural events.
And not all theatres, cinemas, art and concert halls will open at once and offer programs on seven days or evenings.

But a start can be made with #Kultur4Geimpfte0103. Difficult times require special measures, empathy, creativity, inventiveness, spontaneity and flexibility. And courage. Not courage to risk others, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. But courage to try something and perhaps be unpopular. And courage to stand up for a large disadvantaged group without a lobby.

We can assume that many corona-compliant offerings are available, whether because one- or two-person plays have been rehearsed at theatres, chamber plays have been put on large stages, or orchestral pieces have been transposed for the smallest ensembles.

And there’s a lot more to it than quickly implementable offers for vaccinated people, for over-80-year-olds and exhausted nursing staff:

Opera, music and musical theatres can host Best Of’s with a few soloists. Operetta song evenings. Or sing-along matinées, public singing with small choirs. Dance theatres can present spaced choreographies. Small ensembles from music academies, a quartet, a trio, or a piano accompanied string instrument or clarinet could (again) go to old people’s homes. Actors could offer readings or improvisational theatre there.

We are the creative industry. We can improvise, jump into the deep end and give seriousness to something crazy.
I don’t know any actors, musicians or dancers who say “but I only want to play for people under 80“.

And I can imagine that both culturally experienced and culturally distant seniors are happy to be allowed out again after 10 months of contact blockage and loneliness, to be able to do and experience something again. Maybe they go to the theatre, even if they never did so before, or to the movies, especially if there are more seniors in the audience.
As my colleague Claudia Reimer from Hamburg wrote to me, “I think now is the chance to bring theatre to people who don’t generally come to the theatre...”

So that’s where the creative industries, we are all called upon. Why not simply give old people the feeling that we find them important, relevant for our society, for our lives, for our art and culture?


Unfortunately, some politicians do not want to allow the first group of vaccinated people to soon enjoy the artistic game (while at the same time giving a boost to cultural workers) through #Kultur4Geimpfte0103:

Many are waiting in solidarity so that some can be vaccinated first,” said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. “And the not-yet-vaccinated conversely expect the vaccinated to be patient in solidarity.” (Source, 12/30/20)

The many do not necessarily wait in solidarity, but because it is simply so. And then there are people who do not want to be vaccinated at all but wait and see how the first vaccinated people are doing after a few months. And there are also vaccination opponents.

But even more important: how does Jens Spahn know what the not yet vaccinated “expect”? I am not yet vaccinated, and I have no problem at all when vaccinated people are finally allowed to go out or can do more than I can. Just because I am not allowed to go out myself, others should not be allowed to go out either? Is that supposed to be solidarity?

After all, we didn’t say beforehand, “Oh, the old people are being locked away. Let’s all do a voluntary total lockdown out of solidarity.” (might not have been so bad, see Australia’s Zero Covid, but that’s another topic).

And we also don’t say, “Oh, quite a lot of people can’t work for pay at the moment, so out of solidarity, the others stop working too.”

The Proposals do not go far enough

Yesterday, news broke that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) is planning new Corona aid for culture: partial cost coverage for cancelled events, and an aid fund. On the one hand, the fund is intended to support smaller cultural events that have fewer seats due to hygiene regulations. And on the other hand, it is a kind of insurance for planned larger cultural events that have to be cancelled due to Corona. (Source Politics & Culture 2/21, p. 7.)
That’s good, but it doesn’t bring cultural practitioners and their audiences together, doesn’t let either become active. But #Kultur4Geimpfte0103 does. So it could be introduced to help people help themselves, so to speak, alongside the financial aid packages.

Another proposal came in mid-January from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), who suggested that Corona vaccinated people should be allowed to go to restaurants or cinemas earlier than others. This was immediately rejected by the Ministry of Health and by Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD): “ as long as it is not clear whether a vaccinated person can transmit the virus, there can be no exceptions” or (it is forbidden) “to treat vaccinated persons differently from non-vaccinated persons, if only because there is no scientific evidence as to whether vaccination protects against the transmission of the virus.” were their reasons. (Source 17.1.)

Of course, vaccinated people can be treated differently than non-vaccinated people. Namely: because they are vaccinated and can no longer infect themselves. This is not forbidden, on the contrary, that’s exactly what I demand on March 1 with #Kultur4Geimpfte0103.

(again: if only people who are vaccinated have close, unprotected contact with each other – in a museum, in the auditorium of a theatre, in a movie theatre – then it doesn’t matter whether they could infect other people despite vaccination or not. The theatre or cinema staff wears FFP2 masks, and so do the vaccinated people, from the entrance to their seats or the exhibition rooms. By the way, traveling to cultural venues by public transport would not be a risk for the vaccinated either, they just have to keep their distance from the other passengers. Or they can take a cab. Or with a collective bus.)

Why is no one shouting “Here!”

Unfortunately, I didn’t hear anyone supporting Mr. Maas’ proposal or taking it further. Maybe there were, who knows.

But what I have sorely missed above all are the “Here! Here! Here!” shouts from the cultural sector. Why didn’t anyone take up the bill?

We as cultural workers, of all people, should if not warmly then at least gratefully seize the opportunity and rejoice that in a month at the latest there will be enough vaccine-protected old people to help revitalize our industries. Who bring money, not as November aid or loans or the dole, but who buy tickets. Who can fill the halls. Who enjoy our performances, give us applause, see us. And we, in turn, can also hear and see and feel them. And create art again for an audience in the flesh. Anything is better than being able to do nothing, than performing only for the canned.

It is better for a theatre to perform only for seniors and ten or twenty younger nurses and doctors, and even to fill all the seats without a gap, than to remain completely closed.

It is better for a cinema to let in only old visitors and vaccinated medical staff, and possibly change the program somewhat, than for the projector to remain completely off.

It is better that old people in walkers walk through the museum rooms than that the exhibitions are only streamed.
Where are the creative people, the theatre unions, the orchestra representatives, the associations, the theatre directors? I’m surprised that they’re not all shouting “We’re here, we’re ready, we’ll get it done. On March 1, things can certainly get underway. The cultural industry is looking forward to the “privileged”! We’d like to open our doors to the vaccinated, please let us play / make music / exhibit, we’ll watch out too!”

If there are these voices I didn’t hear them.

Sure, there’s the open letter from museum directors to federal and state cultural leaders, for example, calling for museums to open soon. “Our concern is the containment of the pandemic, but at the same time a reopening of the museums adapted to the respective course of Corona.” (Source Berliner Zeitung, 26.1.21)

But they don’t touch the hot iron of the first vaccinated either. And why does Berlin’s Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer (Die Linke) think of nothing better than to say that the theatres will remain closed until Easter without exception? Does he share Jens Spahn’s definition of solidarity?

I am an actress, I could immediately perform with a solo piece or literary productions (Gelesenheiten – staged literature for any occasion). How many of us are part of productions, planned concerts, have programs in the schoolade, and in recent weeks and months have only recorded video clips at home. Without an audience. It’s much nicer to play in front of people. Giving something to other people and getting something.

Many creative people like to say “I want to be on stage / in front of the camera / at my easel until the end of my life, I want to write / make music until old age“. So let’s make a strong case for people in old age to be able to enjoy our art again as soon as possible in the cinema or theatre chair, in the museum, concert hall or literature house. Enjoy safely because they have been vaccinated twice.

What to do. #Culture4Inoculated0103

#Culture4Inoculated0103 is concrete. Something we can work towards together or individually for the next five weeks. A proposal that will let many people create art and experience culture again.

Share this text, discuss the proposal, what is in favor, what is against? Spread the idea.

Talk to your directors, directors, colleagues, conductors or professors. Your ensembles, your orchestra, your pianist. Plan performances, what is possible, what is safe for you cultural workers?

Write to politicians, to cultural senators and ministers, to the Cultural Council, to Ms. Grütters and, for all I care, to Ms. Merkel. Be clear, be ready.

Don’t wait for the suggestions of others, politics has blind spots. Don’t be brushed off with the argument “It can’t be done that quickly.” Who knows?

Put the pressure on. Make offers. Be courageous.

22. December 2020
by SchspIN
Comments Off on Karin Hanczewski – an Inside Story

Karin Hanczewski – an Inside Story

Karin Hanczewski – actress from Berlin

I met Karin Hanczewski in February 20, during the filming of the web series #HEULDOCH – THERAPIE WIE NOCH NIE which was still called PRICKS at that time, and which was screened at Cologne Film Festival and on ZDF Kleines Fernsehspiel since then. Until next year, the mini-series – 5 x 15 min – will still be available in the media libraries of ZDF and arte.

The series “#Heuldoch – Therapie wie noch nie” is a satirical take on #metoo. Watch it! However, I would like to issue a trigger warning: for those affected by sexual assault or worse, it is sometimes hard, despite all the humour.

From left to right: Karin, me, Bärbel

It was one of the last productions to be shot before Corona, the team was great, the cast anyway – starring Bärbel Schwarz and Karin Hanczewski, with whom I shot most of my scenes. I still remember exactly how Karin greeted me in the courtyard of the great estate that was our filming location most of the time:

Karin: Hello!

Me: Hello, uh, I’m Belinde, I’m playing Dr. Scharf.

Karin: I see. Well, I’m Karin, my birthday is on 22 December.

Me: That’s funny, my birthday is on the 19th of…

Karin: Will you bake me a cake then?

Me: Uh, what?

Karin: A birthday cake.

Me: Uh, yeah, sure, uh, I’d love to. What do you like?

Karin: Chocolate cake, nut cake, quark cake, fruit crumble, jabłecznikbezaszarlotkaciasto (= some Polish speciality), marble cake and gooseberry frappé.

Me: Uh, yes, absolutely. How old will you be?

Karin: 39.*

Me: Really? I would have guessed 34, tops! **

* Nobody is 39. It’s a fake age that’s been used for years to delay the threshold to 40 for a while. I did the same at 39, and then again at 49. Now I say I’m 53, in reality I’m already 72. I know I don’t look it. Good genes.

** I wanted to be nice, I wanted her to like me more than anything, because I’d read the script and there were some scenes where I was literally in her hands. In fact, I would guess she was at least in her mid-40s, because I saw her several times before she went into make-up.

Karin is a very nice, friendly, thorough and sensitive colleague. It was a lot of fun shooting with her, with her and Bärbel, with whom I also had a few individual scenes in a frosty atmosphere – haha, I’m kidding! Do watch the series sometime and you’ll understand what I mean.

I remember one scene in particular, my character had just fainted and Karin and Bärbel’s characters were supposed to carry me down a flight of stairs and put me down on the floor. This shot was repeated what felt like 30 times, because the two directors also worked very precisely – Isabell Šuba and Lilli Tautfest. Both were also very nice, but rather superstitious, like many artists. For example they didn’t wash their hair during the whole shoot, but fortunately they always had caps on.

Anyway, Karin and Bärbel carried me down the stairs again and again, put me down, turned me around, pulled me across the floor, put me down again. The whole thing was to be shot in one take. The director’s instructions were that Karin should “drop my feet” at the end (she was at the end of my feet, Bärbel at the side of my head). This was no problem for me, I am well trained, I was able to catch my feet so that they virtually stopped in the air just above the ground. But Karin was worried about hurting me, afraid of the sound of my heels possibly hitting the stone floor. The scene was repeated and repeated over and over. Again and again Karin carefully placed my feet on the ground. In the end it was divided into several takes, for the last short passage my stunt double had to do it. But I don’t think anyone noticed.

During a break. My Stunt double and me. Foto: Antje Volkmann, our woman sound mixer

Why am I telling you all this? For one, because I’m regularly asked not only to publish statistics in the blog, but also include a bit more “film atmosphere” and personal stuff (the most recent, I think, were the texts Blimey, this is so German…  and Write a Blog and Ride a Porsche). And secondly, because today is 22 December, and that is – right! – Karin’s what’s-her-age-now birthday.

Happy birthday, dear Karin, and all the best for the new year.

You are a great colleague and a great actress! Unfortunately I haven’t seen much of you yet, because I don’t watch TATORTs (she plays an investigator in the Dresden team of German Top Cop Drama Tatort / Crime Scene), but I know you from the TATORTCLEANER, and of course the great helicopter children’s sketch on KROYMANN. (Some time ago, when I met Ms Kroymann personally at a political event, I talked with her and asked for a role – you don’t really do that, I know. I don’t think she found that too bad and just asked whether I could do comedy at all, and I wasn’t a celebrity either. She was right, of course. Instead, I got a temporary job – for four months! – as a warehouse helper. I almost drove a forklift truck, but you need an extra driving licence for that. But otherwise it was really good. Maybe I’ll play something like that in a film one day, and then I’ll have already done the research.

Anyway, Karin was really cool and funny – with glasses! – in the sketch, she plays a daughter who supervises her mother and prepares her for old age. Yessss!

Speaking of old age, happy anniversary again – and much success and luck and grit and fun and health for the new year of your life.

(I don’t know if such a blog text is a bit too pushy, but I didn’t have your phone number).

13. December 2020
by SchspIN
Comments Off on NEROPA-Webinar in Cooperation with WIFT Germany on Dec. 17.

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

NEROPA Online Seminars

Logos von WIFT Germany und NEROPA

A month ago, on November 14, I gave my first digital NEROPA workshop as part of the FilmlöwinKino series. It was an interesting experience that showed me that the Gender & Diversity Tool NEROPA Neutral Roles Parity can also be taught in an online seminar. (Although trying out the method in small groups, brainstorming and working around tables and with wooden figures works a bit better and is more fun. But it’s Corona times, and digital workshops are the order of the day. And in the long run, digital formats further reduce my ecological footprint because I can present NEROPA all over the world and let people try it out in workshops without having to travel. Continue Reading →

5. November 2020
by SchspIN
Comments Off on WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 4: Composers

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

Exclusively for WIFT Germany, I’m looking at the list of the 50 Episodes for the Summer Vote (see ARD website) for the 50th anniversary of this Sunday evening crime series with the film women’s magnifying glass. The texts were first published via the social channels of WIFT Germany on Instagram and Facebook, then in more detail here.

Good and bad film music

There is two kinds of music: the good and the bad.
Louis Armstrong

Today I will not be discussing the question of good and bad music – which is to a large extent a matter of taste and time context anyway – but that of women and men composers of TATORT music. No big surprise, and it sounds a bit like a record with a leap, that the 50 episodes from the Summer Vote pool are also a heavily male-dominated affair in terms of music and composers. Only two female composers are on the list. This time only the cake provides some variety., it is a delicious Baumkuchenring (ring of a pyramid cake), of which the women with their 3.2% can only enjoy a very small piece, of course.

The composers Verena Marisa and Iva Zabkar – both WIFT Germany members! – worked with the directors Max Färberböck (DER HIMMEL IST EIN PLATZ AUF ERDEN) and Umut Dağ (REBECCA). The four Wunschtatorte directors only had musicians in their team. This phenomenon can also be found in the 339 TATORT premieres from 2011 to 2019:

Only two of the 41 female directors had a female composer in the team: Hermine Huntgeburth with Christine Aufderhaar in DIE GESCHICHTE VOM BÖSEN FRIEDERICH 2016, and Anna Zoha Berrached with Jasmin Reuter (also a WIFT Germany member) in DER FALL HOLDT 2017, making a total of 4.1% of all female composers. In the nine TATORT years, a total of 18 men directors worked with women composers, which represents a share of 5.8 %.

The often related opinion that with a female director increases the percentage of women behind the camera does not apply to film music, at least not for Germany’s most prestigious television series.

Share of female and male directors who worked with women composers.

The next figure shows the percentage of women for the 339 TATORT music pieces in 2011-19; there were no female composers in 2012, and in the remaining years their percentage was usually well below 10%. The only exception is 2018 with 10.6 %.

TATORTs 2011-19, share of female and male composers

By the way, the data for the first half of 2020 are not yet complete, so I omitted them in my analysis. On the ARD-TATORT website, where the departments screenplay, direction, camera and music are listed for each case, the music position is most often missing. And the gaps could not be completely closed by the databases Filmportal, Crew United or IMDB. Vincent Lutz from Crew United told me that many projects are only incompletely entered in their database, some with only a handful of team positions. Direction and camera are always present, script not necessarily, and music rather seldom – but of course this applies to all projects, including commercials and short films. My research confirms this, music – and also sound – I often have to do extensive research, sometimes only a call to the production company will help, nothing could be found online.
The fact that composers are mentioned less often than, for example, DoP’s, and are therefore less frequently entered into the databases by the productions, perhaps has something to do with the fact that they – like script writers or editors – are not really part of the team, they do not work on the set but at home or in their studio, in pre-production or post-production, or at least ‘somewhere else’, if only during the production phase.

Numbers and mind games

The average percentage of female composers for TATORTE 2011-19 (4.3%) is similarly low as for the 50 Wunschtatorte (3.2%) and more than half as high as the percentage of female composers in the crew united database (9.1%):

Composers, share of women and men for three groups

In comparison with the other three departments I examined, it is noticeable that there are more teams and also that the number of film scores per composer is higher. Thus, in the 329 TATORTs a good 170 composers were hired, but almost 110 of them only in one film.

Female and Malel Composers TATORTs 2011 to 2019

The female and male composers’ top 3 are shown in the next figure. In first place overall we find Swiss musician and film composer Fabian Römer, with 21 TATORTs, 4 of them in a team. What might be surprising: 2nd and 3rd place among the men are taken by teams, Dürbeck & Dohmen and Christoph M. Kaiser / Julian Maas. And what may not be so surprising: The top 3 of the men total 50 TATORTs, which is almost five times as many as the top 3 female composers (11 TATORTs in total).

The Composers with mosts TATORTs 2011-19

In the nine years there were a total of 10 female and 162 male composers. For comparison: in the same period of time 11 camerawomen and 81 cameramen were used for the TATORT. This does not mean that the DoP were used much more often, but that they usually work alone on the position. The cameraman with the most TATORTs 2011-19 was Jürgen Carle with 14 and the top camerawomen are three with 4 TATORTs each: Christine A. Maier, Cornelia Wiederhold and Jutta Pohlmann.

And finally a look at the Crew United database, where filmmakers can enter their profile, either for free or for a fee. For the statistics on film professions and how many can be found in a department, only paid entries are taken into account.

First the number of profiles. Interestingly enough, there are for the four years that I had queried the data – many thanks to Vincent Lutz for the support and data transfer! – considerably more cameramen and -women than scriptwriters or composers. The profiles of scriptwriters and DoP rise in number, those of composers don’t so much, their average is 279, the lowest value (2017) was 259, the highest (2020) 296. The scriptwriters had the lowest value (255) in 2014, but it got more every year, and in 2020 there are already 423 profiles.

Thinking back again: a total of 172 composers were used in the TATORTs investigated. This means that technically there are still 100 left. And we also know that every year there are more films than just the 35 TATORT premieres. Maybe ten times more? A hundred times? No idea. Anyway, we can assume that there are still many composers who don’t have a profile at Crew United (as well as screenwriters, of course) because they are found in different ways. And we can also assume that composers are probably working on different film projects at the same time. This was confirmed by two female composers whom I asked about this. In any case, it is feasible if there is a longer lead time for the projects, and especially if you work in a team. For financial reasons alone, there may be a need to work on film scores  at the same time.

As far as the share of women in the various departments is concerned, music and camera are roughly equal and the script is easily four times higher. That’s not really a surprise as the share of women for script writing at film schools is also much higher.

You can study film music composition as a postgraduate course after a regular music degree and the female graduates may account for roughly 10-30% of all graduates. However: there are lots of other roads to becoming a film score composer, but not necessarily to getting hired. So there is a need for action in the commissioners’  offices, production companies and directors, and whoever else decides on hiring someone for the musical score of a film.

To make sure that TATORT-music does not remain so male-biased, a look at the websites of Music Women Germany (22 female composers in the database) Track15 (a collective of 11 female composers) or the platform for representatives of electronic music female:pressure may help.

Sound Tracks

Recently the Soundtrack Zurich (29.9.-1.10.) and Soundtrack Cologne (14.-17.10.) took place. In Zurich there was a cooperation between WIFT Germany and the colleagues from SWAN (Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network). There WIFT Germany member Hanna Sophie Lüke (track15) presented WIFT member Tina Pepper (German Television Award 2020 for the music of the TV series RAMPENSAU), Dascha Dauenhauer (German Film Award 2020 for the music of the feature film BERLIN ALEXANDER) and Olivia Pedroli ( Swiss Film Award 2020 for the music in the film FÜR IMMER UND EWIG). WIFT board member Cornelia Köhler will then moderate a matchmaking session. In Cologne, WIFT member Verena Marisa informed about composing for TATORT, and WIFT board member Cornelia Köhler presented the German Women Film Sound Mixers.






5. October 2020
by SchspIN
Comments Off on WIFT Germany & SchspIN on Top Cop Drama. Part 4: Cinematographers

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

Exclusively for WIFT Germany, I’m looking at the list of the 50 Episodes for the Summer Vote (see ARD website) for the 50th anniversary of this Sunday evening crime series with the film women’s magnifying glass. The texts were first published via the social channels of WIFT Germany on Instagram and Facebook, then in more detail here.

TATORT Cinematography – The Missing Female Gaze

Does it make a difference if a man or a woman is cinematographer of a cop drama? Is the female or male gaze created via the camera lens? And who decides who gets hired for this position?

The first two questions can be answered with yes and yes respectively. The third answer is not so easy, sometimes the director has to choose from a list of suggestions, sometimes they may bring someone along and sometimes someone is predetermined. It is easier to say who is looking through the TATORT lenses, these are mostly men. That may not be so surprising, given the fact that 75% of camera graduates at film schools are men, but something else is.

Let’s take the 50 TATORT (Crime Scene, German top cop drama) episodes up for this year‘s summer vote. Scenes, here we only find three camerawomen, that’s 6% of all DoP’s: Christine A. Maier (BOROWSKI UND DAS MEER and ANGEZÄHLT) and Birgit Gudjonsdottir (FRÜHSTÜCK FÜR IMMER). They get to share a small piece of the birthday cake, – and they all worked in films directed by women (Sabine Derflinger twice and Claudia Garde once). The fourth female director, Christine Hartmann (TODESBRÜCKE) and the 46 male directors all had men behind the camera.

Don‘t men want to work with camerawomen or are they simply somehow unable to? Or is it just a problem of films with high ratings? For comparison let’s look at other episodes of the TATORT series to get further insight: Continue Reading →