For any REAL BUDDY related suggestions, comments, feedback and inquires please send us your message here:
Or visit our FACEBOOK SITE !
please visit: www.mineworks.de (German only)
Brüsseler Ring 65a
52074 Aachen, Germany
Fon +49.241. 99089990
Fax +49.241. 99089988
Kevin Kohl, Frank Mirbach, Marek Voegele, Frank Wenzl
Mineworks Film is a Germany based production company. This website is treated under German copyright laws. All rights reserved.
Der Inhalt dieser Website unterliegt dem Schutz des Urheber- und Wettbewerbsrechts. Er darf nur für den eigenen Bedarf geladen, ausgedruckt und kopiert werden. Jegliche Vervielfältigung, Verbreitung oder öffentliche Wiedergabe, auch von Teilen bedarf der vorherigen schriftlichen Genehmigung. Alle Rechte an den hier aufgeführten Marken, Eigen- und Produktnamen sowie Logos liegen bei deren Eigentümern.
Mineworks owns, solely and exclusively, all rights, title and interest in and to the Web Site, all the content (including, for example, audio, photographs, illustrations, graphics, other visuals, video, copy, text, software, titles, Shockwave files, etc.), code, data and materials thereon, the look and feel, design and organization of the Web Site, and the compilation of the content, code, data and materials on the Web Site, including but not limited to any copyrights, trademark rights, patent rights, database rights, moral rights, sui generis rights and other intellectual property and proprietary rights therein. Your use of the Web Site does not grant to you ownership of any content, code, data or materials you may access on the Web Site.
© Mineworks Film 2010 Alle Rechte vorbehalten. All rights reserved.
Vervielfältigung nur mit Genehmigung von Mineworks Film.
As the film's producer and director, Frank Mirbach is the creative force behind REAL BUDDY. Since the very beginning of his career, the realization of a unique cinematic vision has been the main artistic intention of his work as a filmmaker. Mirbach worked in the music clip field as a freelance camera assistant and director for several production companies before he was accepted at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, where he studied filmmaking. Still a student, he established his company MINEWORKS FILM, already working for several international television networks. Since then Frank Mirbach has been a sought-after producer, director and cinematographer for international broadcasters, independent film productions and commercials, winning multiple international awards for his work.
It was their prior collaboration on Steve´s short film I ALWAYS WANTED, shot and co-produced by Mirbach, that introduced Steve Hudson to the REAL BUDDY project, then called THE LAST ELEVEN. Intrigued by the basic storyline, Steve offered Frank to work on the script and it was him who came up with a bunch of great ideas and much of the satire and humor which turned THE LAST ELEVEN into REAL BUDDY. Steve Hudson was also cast as “Morris”, the neurotic prison inmate, after Mirbach decided he wanted a British actor to play the leading role.
Steve Hudson was born in London in 1969, and grew up in England and South America. He began writing, acting and directing whilst studying at Cambridge University. After drama school in London, Steve worked as both an actor and director in Britain, Cuba, Belgium and Germany. Since 1996, he has lived in Germany, where he got his first experience of writing, acting and directing for television and film.
Steve’s short film, GOODBYE premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the UIP Prize for Best European Short Film. His movie TRUE NORTH received four BAFTA nominations, among them “Best Film” and “Best Director”. TRUE NORTH also made “Best Film” at Cherbourg -, Ourense - and Pamplona international film festivals. Steve co-directed the British drama miniseries CRANFORD, starring Julie Dench.
From the very beginning of his career in the world of moving pictures, it´s been Frank Mirbach´s passion – not only as a director but also as a cinematographer - to create unique and cinematic imagery and REAL BUDDY is no exception. With Mathias Schick he found a fellow cinematographer to share his vision for the upcoming movie and the two worked closely together on the films most complex scenes including over 140 people, special effects work, guns, stunts and lots of action before Mirbach took the helm for he rest of the camera work due to the production´s limited budget.
Cinematographer Mathias Schick has been a trainee for several camera rentals and film laboratories before moving on to start a career as a camera loader/2nd assistant camera in Hamburg. He then worked in London as a production assistant for SW1 and as camera assistant in Hamburg, before he was accepted at “Filmakademie Baden-Wuertemberg” in Ludwigsburg. He graduated and left Ludwigsburg with a camera diploma. Mathias has been working as a freelance cameraman for TV, movies and documentaries in Cologne, Germany, winning several awards for his work, among them the “German Camera Award” nomination for the animated shortfilm HARARA.
Being a SciFi fan since the days of the classic STAR TREK series, Tobias Richter studied computer science in Darmstadt, fascinated with the the creation of virtual worlds. During his studies, he worked for television productions, like HURRA DEUTSCHLAND, the German version of SPITTING IMAGE. He continued his freelance work in the visual effects departments of several studios before founding his own company THE LIGHTWORKS.
Tobias since produced computer graphics for popular games like the ROGUE LEADER and SACRED series, also for LAIR and BATMAN – DARK TOMORROW. Tobias Richter´s Team also created visual effects for several music videos like DJ SAMMY, LOONA or DRAGONBALLS. It was then when the team also started to do CGI work for movies like VIRUS UNDEAD and the US web series STAR TREK PHASE 2. The studio today successfully develops all kinds of graphics for computer games, industrial visualizations for OPEL and the EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY and most importantly visual effects.
If something needs to be shot or blown up in a movie, directors need an experienced special effects man who takes care of the dangerous business. Dennis Kron has the reputation of being one of the best special effects guys in the German movie industry. Some might say that Dennis is in fact the best active German pyrotechnician.
After being on German producer Hermann Joha´s payroll for the popular action series COBRA 11, Dennis started his own business KRON UND FLAMMEN. Soon after he worked for popular German crime TV series and movies like THE CLOWN, STRAIGHT SHOOTER or SCHIMANSKI being responsible for the special effects department.
Ralf Burmester completed a training as engineering draftsman and orthopedic technician before signing up with the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, the same film school director Frank Mirbach attended. Being a long time fan of fantastic films he soon specialized in the making of spaceships, futuristic guns and special effect make up for several student films like the SciFi film MISSION OMEGA. He graduated and opened his own workshop the same year making props and make up effects for the films EVIL LOVE, DEATH DOWNLOAD and CORONA. He also collaborated with director Uli Fleischer on BLOODHOUND, a gothic vampire story.
To create the perfect illusion, Ralf designed and created lots of the gear and props of the REAL BUDDY universe, spending hundreds of hours with the making of credible guns, computers, remotes, furniture, helmets and many more things demanded by the script. Whether it´s a big bore gun like the M41A prison guard rifle with gas grenade launcher or the toilet flush of a prison cell, Ralf is the right man.
Starting his career as a trainee with director/producer Frank Mirbach´s production company MINEWORKS FILM Ramin Sabeti has been part of the family for years, specializing himself in editing.
Ramin studied Visual Communications and Media Design and graduated with his film PROLOGUE. He then worked freelance for several filmproductions in Germany and the United States before founding his own company XKOPP in Berlin.
Today, Ramin Sabeti is in demand as freelance editor for german filmproductions, having edited for the popular documentary series TERRA-X, HISTORY and LEGENDS. He also works in the US for the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. Ramin has edited numerous commercials, among them films for AUDI and VOLKSWAGEN.
Sid got into music making in his mid/late teens. Influenced by bands like Camel, Pink Floyd, Blind Guardian but also film composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, he started composing his own music using just an old guitar, which he taught himself how to play. Sid composed his first epic orchestral suite in 2003: SPACE SUIT-THEUNDISCOVERED JOURNEY to great reviews from his audience. Encouraged by people claiming his music to be very much like a film score, his dream was born to actually compose for film. Consequently, he started his studies of Composition for the Media at the Utrecht School of the Arts, in Hilversum, where he graduated as Master of Arts in Composition in Context.
Sid is responsible for the musical scores for over 70 films, not to mention documentaries, games, commercials and more. But he is most known for his music for the games ANTICHAMBER and OUT THERE and usage of the track THE FLOATING WORLD in the game THE STANLEY PARABLE. One of his most viewed works is the public service announcement Embrace Life - always wear your seatbelt, which went viral on YouTube.
Welcome to the "behind the scenes" section.
There are thousands of pictures and hours of video footage that have been made during the production of REAL BUDDY. A selection of all this material can be found here. We will add more stuff here regularly to give you an impression of how things were made and even more will be released on Blue Ray and DVD sometime later.
This section of the website offers some personal insight into the shooting and postproduction process of REAL BUDDY as experienced by the film´s director. We strongly recommend to watch the movie BEFORE reading on, for it contains many spoilers !
REAL BUDDY is an independent production by Mineworks Film.
Keeping costs as low as possible without sacrificing any quality and maintaining production values at a high level usually only seen in productions costing 100 times as much was a critical - and revolutionary - aspect of the REAL BUDDY production. Among the many tactics used to achieve this was the separation of the shooting schedule into different phases - accomodating all of the principal's work schedules - a strategy which you will find detailed repeatedly in the Director´s Diary.
The shooting phases for REAL BUDDY usually consisted of 5-7 shooting days in a row, mainly limited to one or two locations. By controlling the shooting schedule in this manner the cast and crew - most of them doing the work for free or for very limited fees - were able to work in a focused manner on REAL BUDDY without being kept from their paying professional jobs for too long. This slowed down the overall production considerably, but for us it was the only way to maintain our high production values within a very limited budget.
I started jotting down notes with the beginning of phase II of the filming, so the Directors Diary section is limited to phase II and III.
Hope you enjoy reading, but don´t if you haven´t seen REAL BUDDY yet, the Directors Diary is full of SPOILERS, of course.
Saturday morning. This is a day of historic proportions ! REAL BUDDY starts shooting again ! No, seriously, this means a lot to all of us. After the long time the future of the project really had to be questioned, we finally start work again ! The first day will be a greenscreen scene in which we create a TV news studio. For that, our construction guys created a fancy looking desk for the actors to sit at and read the news to their audience. Of course, like the whole film, these news will be full of surprises.I create a typical TV studio lighting, to create a credible atmosphere. The scene is supposed to look realistic. To add to that atmosphere, we shoot HDV, because we need a video look for the scenes taking place in the news studio. Later, the green background will be replaced with all kinds of monitors and graphics visually representing what is said in front of the camera. Florian Rohn, our 2 D artist responsible for the creation of the backgrounds, arrives on set to supervise everything, because the actors need to positioned in a way we later are able to see the background graphics. Flo hands out stills from his storyboard to communicate the positions to the crew. I´m excited to start work.
Our actors arrive. Deborah Friedman, our “forecaster” and Brian Thomas, our “anchorman”. It makes me proud to know they´re on board, not only because they are the ideal cast for the scene with Brian being a real American TV host and Deborah working in the same field at “Deutsche Welle TV”, but also they were our choice from the very beginning of the production. One might have suspected they would have lost interest over the long time we weren´t able to continue work on the film, but it was no problem at all. As we started contacting people, telling them BUDDY would start again, the feedback of all the guys involved before and behind the camera was overwhelming. Nobody blamed us for the delay at all. They all were happy to start work on BUDDY again. Guess being professionals, they are used to such delays on independent productions.
Make up is done and we´re ready to go. Brian looks great, very respectable. He´s 100% anchorman. Behind the camera, he´s a funny guy, joking all the time and obviously enjoying himself. He delivers his lines very routinely and all we have to do is to exaggerate his attitude a bit. Works perfectly.
The shooting goes well. It´s hard to keep us from laughing all the time. Steve Hudson, our script writer, did a marvelous job in creating the satiric dialogue for Deborah and Brian. It´s extremely funny. And complicated. Deborah struggles with some lines. Her “forecast” is really long and written quite complicated, adding to the satire. There are lines which make one stumble here and there, even as a native. But at the end of the day, everything´s in the can and I´m quite happy.
We´re done. I can´t believe the first day went so well. Brian decides to do another take, improvising. I cant describe here what he´s doing, because this would mean a heavy spoiler, but we all end up with tears in our eyes from laughing. Actually, these guys are so good I´m seriously considering to write some additional news scenes for them later, when we have a rough cut. Would be nice to have them in the film several times as a running gag.
I ask Deborah to read some lines we wrote for the prison computer voice. I didn´t plan to use her for that voice recording, but her voice fits beautifully in what I had in mind for those scenes in which the “mainframe” makes announcements.
She happily does me the favor. Another point on my endless to do list can be crossed out.
It´s good bye for Deborah and Brian. They were great. Hope to se them on the big BUDDY premiere, but we´re still far away from that. I think about what lies ahead. The cell. This is going to be way more complicated than what we shot today.
A couple of weeks went by. Ramin, our cutter, edited the news scenes and did the composites with the backgrounds Flo delivered. The stuff looks great and adds to the satiric approach a lot. Together with our funny commercial, we will have some great stuff to show on our prison screens.
It´s arrival time for Steve Hudson, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer and Eric Gladhart ! After such a long time since we shot phase I, I catch myself wondering how much their outer appearance might have changed since the last time I saw them. I´m really excited ! The photos Eric sent me showed a completely different hair cut and a dye. And Eric made grimaced on the picture ! The actors are expected to appear in our improvised make up department here at Mineworks headquarters, in our conference room, soon.
The door opens and Dietrich Hollinderbäumer walks in. He hasn´t changed at all ! I´m relieved. He greets me warmly and applauds me for my recent additions to the script. Not a word about the long pause we had to make since the last shooting phase. Steve and Eric arrive. Steve has gained a little weight, but despite that, he´s very much the same. Eric gets into make up and his hair, long and kind of reddish is cut and dyed black again. After those procedures, he´s our good old Joe again. Wiepke Dankow, our make up artist, adds the bloody scar to Eric´s nose, a detail demanded by continuity Julian Eilmann, and we´re ready to go.
We arrive on set, a huge hall in an old factory facility we rented as our studio faciöity for the cell scenes. Lots of space, dry and mostly clean for the shoot, the only existing problem are a couple of pigeons living here and making their usual sounds we got used to during the set´s construction. I hope they won´t cause to much problems with our sound recording. Hanno Gerken and his construction, paint and aging crew, mainly Peter Vonderstein, Ralf Burmester and Andrea Münzberg, did a marvelous job on this one again ! Our prison cell looks fantastic. The contruction guys spent the majority of the last three weeks here, putting together a flexible wall system, needed by the camera to get all the angles needed. They appear as brick and steel walls, but everything is made of wood, carefully altered and aged by Ralf Burmester´s team. A toilet has been added and our set dresser, Dominik Schmitz, even got a original prison bunk bed from a real prison !
While the actors get in their costumes, I do the last light corrections with Mark Warnecke, my gaffer. It´s just final touches, we planned everything long ago in prep and made the appropriate lighting tests. My goal was to create a “film noir” syling here, so we use just a few units: A 5 K, a 2K through the cells grid roof, some Kinoflos for the inside, another 2K with full CTO as the sun trough the cell´s window. In front of the window a huge greenscreen lit by some 800W open face Arris. This will later be replaced by an artificial sky greated by the Light Works Guys in CGI. Dennis Kron, our special effects expert arrives. He´s needed later for some takes wit6h Dietrich. Unfortunately, although he came with his big truck full of interesting pyro stuff, we only need him for some minor effects today.
It´s Hanno Gerken´s birthday today, so we have organized a small “on set” party for him before work begins. We send him away with something to do and decorate our little catering corner with streamers and put some cake and candles on the narrow tables. Hanno returns and we all sing “happy birthday to you” and have some cake and coffee. The last peaceful moment before the stress begins…
Shooting has begun ! We have to hurry. Dietrich is only able to join us for this one night, because he has to return to Vienna, where he´s in a stage play for the next couple of weeks. This left us with a very tight schedule for today. Again, like in phase I, we have to start with the most complicated scenes at our first day of shooting. Damn ! First take is a dolly move on Didi, entering the cell through the heavy steel door which opens with a hiss, caused by Dennis steam system. All has to be timed exactly and we have to do several takes just to have that effect exactly where we want it to be. Didi has problems with some lines. It´s still our warm up, no doubt.
We´re still working on the scenes with Didi, Steve and Eric. The final confrontation. A very suspenseful moment. The showdown. I´d love to give more details, but it´s crucial we leave that for the premiere, otherwise I ´d cause some heavy spoilers. We are not shooting in chronological order. The takes order is mainly dictated by the economy of the set ups. It´s complicated to keep track on the right angles for the camera and the actors and crew are often confused about the right direction for the guys to look. I didn´t storyboard here to give me more freedom in my decisions. As good as a storyboard might be, Anytime I use one I catch myself clinging to it. It takes away my freedom somehow. Something I learned from our first phase of shooting and on many other projects. I´m glad I´ve got so many experienced people around me. Everyone´s willing to help in case I run into problems. They are like family. A big advantage of the way we do projects.
It´s cold here, a big hall, no heating. Between shots, our actors can be found on their chairs, close to a gas heater (we´ve got only one), under heavy blankets, reading some books. The crew members not at work at the moment are fast asleep, on benches, wherever they can. I´m constantly working, so I don´t feel the temperature and tiredness too much. I wonder how on earth they can find sleep here. I would never be able to have a nap under these circumstances. Too much noise and stress around everywhere. I hope we won´t run in into time problems. The hall´s roof has big windows, so we only have a limited timeframe due to daylight coming in in the morning and Dietrich Hollinderbäumer has to leave on time to catch his plane to Vienna. To add to the pressure, we expect the traffic to be audible somewhere at around 5:30 am, which will cause us major sound problems. Oh well, it´s a hall, not a soundstage.
We prepare some mats for Steve Hudson to fall on for the next scene, in which he is kicked on the chest and falls down on the floor. Eric Gladhart is on the prop table we build extra strong to support his weight. He practices the kick. This has to be timed perfectly. Steve has to chase him through the cell, runs towards him after he jumps on the little table and literally runs into the kick. All this without hurting himself. At least I hope so. After quite some tests we figured the perfect timing and start to shoot. Everything goes well and we can move on, well, after about eleven takes.
We´re running out of time ! After a complicated dialogue scene with the three actors, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer and Eric Gladhart do the next dialogue alone. Didi has to catch his plane and leave on time for his hotel, but there are still a lot of shots with him. I go guerilla style from a tripod this time, shooting different angles with different lenses as quickly as I can. The people´s mood is still good, no one complains about the long hours we´re continuously working now. It´s a hard first day.
Traffic becomes audible outside. The damn pigeons start moving, making noise and we´re still in the middle of that scene with Dietrich Hollinderbäumer and Eric Gladhart. Focus becomes an issue again. We´re working with HDCam, an P&S 35mm lens adaptor and Highspeed Zeiss lenses, but the iris is almost always full open. It´s a low key set. Anytime one of the actors moves his face in close up too much, we´re off focus and have to start again. Poor Jens Fisher, my focus puller, does his best to keep track, but it´s difficult.
Finally, the last take ! The scene´s in the can and it´s goodbye again for Dietrich Hollinderbäumer after only one night of shooting. I drive him back to his hotel, it´s on my way home and I´m happy to be able to talk to him a bit. He will have only about 2 to 3 hours of sleep, before he has to leave for his plane to the airport. A quick hug and he´s gone. I´m happy to see him again for a longer time in phase III, sometime next year, to do the bridge and control room scenes. I´m totally exhausted now and ready for my bed. For a first day in our cell set, it´s wasn´t a bad start.
We are preparing a scene with Eric Gladhart and Steve Hudson on their cell´s bunk bed, watching TV. The monitor is a huge 16:9 TFT we put in the cell´s wall. The TFT is connected to a MacBook Pro with Quicktime movies we prepared for playback. For the close ups of the actors watching, Florian Rohn prepared a Quicktime with flashing colors and back and white parts, continuously changing. We figured our regular “program” was just not intense enough light wise to create the necessary effect in their faces. It works beautifully.
Thanks to the construction of the bunk bed, Steve always hits his head when sitting down beside Eric on the lower mattress. They have to bend over to be able to stay in the awkward position on the bed, but I feel this adds to the fun of the scene and decide not to pity them…
We can´t keep ourselves from laughing any time Eric Gladhart does his lines with the required southern accent, extreme version! It´s a really funny contrast to Steve Hudson´s Oxford English. In this take, we have a two shot from in front of the actors, so we have to remove the middle section of the cell set´s wall, the one with the monitor. After the camera is set up again, I recognize the tv light effect is now lost on the actor´s faces. I confront my gaffer, Mark Warnecke, with this problem and a couple of minutes later he arrives with an old bicycle rim he found somewhere in our hall. I marvel at his abilities when I see him putting the rim on a light stand, with pieces of colored gels in it. A 800 W Arrilite beams through the rim and voila: The effect is back and we can start shooting the take. All you need when going guerilla style is good people !!
It´s getting damn cold ! When people speak, little steam clouds emit from their mouths already ! I hope this can´t be seen in the shots. Wouldn´t fit exactly to the fact we´re supposed to be somewhere in a desert in this film. Mark Warnecke approaches me with my lightmeter in his hands. Someone put it on a shelf, next to a coffe mug. Of course the next person sitting there managed to get the coffee all over the light meter ! So much for no food on set ! Dennis Kron tries to get it dry with compressed air…
Somewhere, at the other end of the hall, is a huge, mean fridge from hell with food in it. It´s totally quite during rehearsals, but it springs to live any time we start shooting ! I demand to get rid of that problem, but someone mentions the hall has been sponsored, so we´re here for free. Guess the sponsors won´t be too happy if we ruin the ingredients of the fridge by pulling the plug. So the whole team waits for it to reach it´s temperature and getting quite again before each take ! As if we have all the time in the world…
Almost done for today. The take left is Steve Hudson running around in the cell hysterically. I ask him to hammer his fists against the steel door of the cell. This proves to be tricky for the sound. Christian Weidner, our sound recordist, complains about the fact that each knock on the door sounds pretty much like knocking on wood. Well, it is wood painted to look like steel. Now the challenge for Steve would be to go nuts while maintaining control over his fists only gently touching the door. I reckon that´s not exactly Steve´s way of method acting, but I can´t help. The rest has to be saved in the sound mixing stage.
The day starts with a crane shot on the outside cell window. Hanno Gerken, who also acts as our key grip, is setting up the equipment. This is going to be tricky for focus again cause we´re moving in on Steve Hudson at the cell window, looking out. We end in a close up of him, pulling at the steel bars of the window. We rehearse a lot of time before the first clapper. As expected, either the framing or the move or the focus cause problems. Again the problem of wood acting as stone or steel. Anytime Steve pulls, the bars make some noises which do not fit into our idea of steelbars. So Steve has to bring in his experience from the cell door and treat the bars very gently while making it look as he would pull very hard. Well, film is illusion, right ?
Back in the cell set. Eric Gladhart is lying on the lower bunk bed. It´s another dialogue take with Steve Hudson. We do the shots on Steve first. He gets down from the window, talking to Eric. We get the shots with two different lenses. It´s a very important scene I cannot describe here to avoid another heavy spoiler. Madita Selas, my 1st Assistant Director, is afraid we run into time problems again, so she insists on moving on. But I feel I need to do another dolly shot moving in on Steve as he moves slowly in Erics direction, to emphasize the moment. I promise to do it fast and we set up our Microdolly, a very lightweight system, in less than two minutes. Without another rehearsal, we start shooting and after 3 takes, we´re done and ready for the next shot.
We´re doing well. Another dolly shot inside the cell is set up by Hanno Gerken´s grip crew. It´s a longer dialogue scene with Steve Hudson and Eric Gladhart again. Steve is supposed to walk around the bunk bed, talking and getting angrier and angrier by the time, as the dolly slowly moves. At the end of the shot, Steve has to grab some magazines to throw off frame. So far so good. Of course, the magazines are hard to aim at the right spot, so we end up with lots of pages flying around. After that, we set up a shot on the wall, where the magazines hit. Taped together, they don´t loose pages now, but it´s even harder to hit the spot. Eight takes and we´ve got it in the can.
Time for some handheld camera work again. This system is damn heavy ! The scene requires Steve Hudson to chase Eric Gladhart through the whole cell. I decide to improvise everything, to get the right emotion out of this. 1st AC Jens Fisher is troubled because of the upcoming focus issues, I´m troubled about the correct framing. We start shooting after a short rehearsal and quickly, my actors are not only out of focus, but also out of frame ! We rehearse again, this time a bit more in support of the cameras needs. We shoot shots on Steve, then on Eric, then on both. Then we go for a POV of each of them. This will be cut with takes we plan from above the cell´s ceiling grid, from the crane later. I enjoy the freedom the actors have while doing this. It´s always rewarding to see them feel free and improvise as against strictly going by the script one short take after another. But well, you just can´t do that with every scene. The shots are in the can and I´m happy to get rid of the heavy thing on my shoulders again.
Eric Gladhart in front of the cell´s tiny mirror, in the background our great cell toilet fake, just a wall, partly made of milk glass. Next to that wall, another little electronic gadget created by Ralf Burmester. This time, the prop wizard used some old remote controls, outfitted with LED lights. It´s great. As a D.O.P., I always care very much about backgrounds, to make parts of a frame interesting, even if they are off focus, as in this case, where that part of the wall would otherwise gone totally black. I astonishing, even after so many years in the industry, to see things constructed so simple looking so real in the frame.
Costume problems again ! Each time there is some action with the actors, they´re ripping their grey white overalls and the material, actually paper, hangs down ridiculously. We went for the paper costumes in phase I mostly for monetary reasons. During that phase, in the chapel mass fight scene, we ruined most of them, about 70 pieces. The original supplier wasn´t available anymore for phase II, so we went for a different one, with the problem that Helen Freise, our costumer for this phase, wasn´t able to get them dyed with the appropriate color. It proved to be very tricky and she ended up with her bathtub ruined at home and a color not exactly like the one we had. Now, only three inmate costumes are left over and we hope they will hold until the end of the shoot, tomorrow.
Another costume ruined ! Helen decides to go the easiest way and asks for some gaffer´s tape. She manages to get the tape inside the costume, putting the parts back together. I doesn´t look perfect, but it´ll do for the rest of the day. Hope we do not end up reconsidering framing for some shots due to the costumes falling more and more apart.
Finally, it´s time for some special effects shots again ! Dennis Kron, our SFX guy, has been setting up his equipment hours ago, waiting the whole night to do these shots. It´s an explosion´s blast right into Steve Hudson. During camera rehearsals two weeks ago, we´ve been video recording everything and I recognized some dust floating in the light beam from a single 800 W Arrilite while Mark Warnecke, standing in for Steve, was pretending to be hit by the blast at the window. I asked Dennis if we could achieve something like that for the shooting and enhance the impression of the blast by using some kind of dust he can provide us with. Now, some strange machinery, called “Stahlschwein” by Dennis, is in front of the window, ready to hit Steve with compressed air.
We rehearse carefully. The shot has to be timed exactly. Mark is a the dimmers for two 2K Arri´s while Dennis operates the air blast and a wind machine at the same time. We plan to start with the wind, then the lights get brighter and brighter, the the wind increases and then the blast goes off, hitting the window with it´s frame full of Dennis´dust. I want this to be seen from 4 different camera angles. Jens Fischer, the 1st AC, mounts the camera on top of the set, looking down on Steve for the first camera position. Then it´s time to shoot. 1,2,3 BANG ! Steve goes flying, into a mat we prepared for him off frame. We all gather around the HD field monitor and playback the shot. It looks fantastic, especially in slow motion.
We did two more explosions, all from different angles. We´re almost done for this night. What follows, is basically a repetition of the shot before. Everything is set up again, another camera position is prepared, this time inside the cell, from a low angle on Steve Hudson. Bang ! Steve is blown away again ! He lands safely on the mat, catched by a production assistant. Again playback to check the shot. Done !
Our last day with actors Eric Gladhart and Steve Hudson. After today´s shots, they are finished with the movie. Somehow, I can´t believe it. Today, we have a bunch of crane shots we left over from all the scenes we´ve done during the week. We start with a master shot on Eric from above the cell´s grid ceiling. Our crane has to be outfitted with all the bazookas we have at hand to reach the necessary height. I climb the crane and Hanno Gerken, our key grip, moves me higher and higher. Due to the many bazookas, I have to stand on my toes to operate the camera, but it looks great. It´s a slow movement over the grid, while Eric sits in front of the TFT screen, watching. The tricky thing here is to end the crane movement exactly at a point the camera can see Eric and the TV and no steel bar from the grid in the middle of the frame. Hanno watches the framing down there on the monitor, but we end up with about 10 takes nonetheless.
Another scene in the same camera position high above the ceiling of our cell. This time, Steve has to chase Eric again, both of them running around the bunk bed. They are improvising again and Eric has to sing a certain song and playing an air guitar. Constantly, he forgets the song´s correct text and we all start laughing again. As Steve awkwardly climbs over the bunk bed, in pursuit of Eric loosing the words again, all control is lost and Eric and Steve can´t stop laughing anymore, joined by the whole team. It´s too funny.
The next setup is from the same camera angle again. Steve´s on the upper bunk bed, pulling at the cell´s steel grid ceiling, made of painted wood, of course. Wood is such a great material to work with, but when it´s painted to resemble steel, it´s still wood. So Steve, like so many times before, finds himself in a situation where he is supposed to pull madly at the bars, but can´t, cause they would give away the fact they aren´t made of steel. A dilemma, but somehow, being a good actor, he manages to make it believeable.
This time, we literally have to tear down most of our beautiful set. The large camera crane has to be inside the cell now. Hanno Gerken´s team is prepared, so it doesn´t take too much time, and we´re ready for a shot in which we move in on Eric Gladhart again, who is supposed to get up from the bunk bed to faceSteve Hudson. It´s Jens Fisher and me on the crane, operating. It´s late, we´re all tired due to the long hours of work the whole week, and somehow Eric still struggles with his lines again. Suddenly I feel the crane slightly moving, but not from a grips hand. I recognize the vibrations come from Jens, laughing, struggling to not ruin the shot. The problem for me with Jens laughing is, it´s exteremely contagious. I´ve learned that on many occasions I´ve been working with Jens. So I start laughing as well, while Eric, the camera in a close up on him, tries to stay concentrated. Tears start to run from my cheeks. I can´t help it. Suddenly Eric looses control and goes “What the fuck are you laughing at !?” and me and Jens laugh even harder. It takes about five minutes and some annoyed glances from the whole crew to get ourselves under control again.
The final shot for this night. It´s the opening shot for the cell. I figured that one out months before and now we´re doing it as the last major shot for the whole production phase. It´s a complicated crane move from a shelf on the wall, over some props, then on the toilet wall, from behind the bunk bed to Joe in front of the TV, all in one take. Then, at the end of the shot, Steve has to come out of the toilet, talking to Eric. For a change, we do a complicated setup at a shoots end. Wow !
It´s the eighth take. It´s unnerving. We´re very tired, all of us actually want to go home, to their beds, have some sleep. But the damn thing isn´t in the can yet. Sometime we´re off focus, or it´s something with the correct framing or Steve´s timing. To add to the stress, the pigeons start making noise again, too. I decide to ignore it and take care about it later in post, hoping it won´t be audible. Then it happens: In the middle of the eleventh take, people enter the hall ! It´s flea market here today and some of the dealers seemed to have decided to get up early. I freak out, yelling “Shut up!” or something like this, but it doesn´t help. I´m frustrated, I want to stop shooting, it seems senseless to go on with all the noise. Somehow Madita Selas, my 1st AD and the rest of the crew calm me down and we end up with something useable in the can. It´s a wrap!
Back in the hall, after a good days sleep. I decided to to some missing shots today, only minor things we have left over from phase I. I only got a limited crew, Hanno Gerken, Anne Schille, Chris Weidner, Jens Fischer, Julian Eilmann, Ralf Burmester, Jens Tervooren, the works. But it´ll do. We start with doing shots left over from the chapel scene. Hanno fills in for Mad Vic, played by Andreas Stoeck. Due to the fact we haven´t got the original black robes from that scene, a piece of black cloth will do. It´s a close up of hands pouring wine for Mad Vic´s mass.
Hanno managed to turn the cell set´s door. I need some shots of prisoners inside the cell, behind the door´s window. I use all people available for this: Julian, Ralf, all of them to have as much different footage as possible. Especially Julian is fun to watch, for he goes completely mad, yelling like crazy. I put the rest of the crew in guards costumes, no matter if they fit or not, even the girls are dressed as guards now. After I yell “Action!” all these people start to run around the camera now, crossing the view on the cell door with the inmate looking out. It´s a tight shot. It is supposed to look like people running through the cell block corridor from phase I and it works perfectly. It´s a very funny situation though, looks like we went completely nuts.
Then it´s time for a missing take from the scene with Heinrich Schafmeister. I the footage from phase I he´s shooting like crazy with his gard rifle, standing next to a cell door in our corridor. Sudddenly, in the middle of shooting, he hears a noise, turns and faces an inmate behind the cell door. We decide to use my 1st AC, Jens Fisher, for this. A little self made make up, wet hair and a strange look on his face, Jens resembles exactly we was scripted for: “A very strage prisoner”. Anne Schille, our production assistant, fills in for Heinrich Schafmeister, holding the prop gun, turning as Jens appears at the window. We see only the gun and an arm in the frame. Jens ducks away as he sees the weapon, but not without a totally crazy glance. We all laugh a lot. Nice ending to a stressful week. Phase II is done !!
So this is it. After weeks and weeks of prepping, phase III of REAL BUDDY is about to start today with a big exterior: The fortress bridge scene. Everything´s on go, except for the bad weather forecast for this week, which makes us worry. All the shots are done at night again. First, because we have those night exteriors, second, because it´s the only time of the day we can record sound. During days, it´s impossible, way to much noise around everywhere. One of those disadvantages of location shootings, but we´re used to it. We need to get those two nights here in the can, no matter what, due to the availability of actor James Matthews, who plays one of the guards in this scene. Hope luck is on our site again.
Deja vu:. With each shooting phase, we have to start with the more complicated stuff, although I much prefer to get the team “warm” and going with more easier things at the beginning. But – Murphy´s law - it just never happens. In phase I, we started off with the most complicated scene of the film, the chapel scene. It included 80 extras, a mass fight with stuntman, pyro f/x, smoke, haze, and two camera units, all because the location, a real chapel – had to be done in two days. Here on the bridge, the most complicated stuff is the lighting and dry weather. Cause it´s low budget, we only have a limited amount of big HMI lights to light a huge set. A 12 K, 3 4K´s and some 2K´s to light the whole thing which is huge: The walls alone are 15m in height and 200m in width.
Our propmaker, Ralf Burmester, did it again ! Everything this guy makes is marvelous !
This time, he´s setting up our Vulcan gun, a six barreled monster weapon, on the bridge set. REAL BUDDY will be the first production in Germany ever outfitted with a prop like that. Makes us a bit proud. One of the guards is going to be at it during the scene. A small crowd gathers around as Ralf connects that beautifully designed prop to it´s chain of ammunition. He´s even incorporated some of the typical “Buddy” design elements. Again, Ralf considerably added to our overall production value.
2D artist Florian “Flo” Rohn arrives with the signs he´s designed for the entrance area. We´re going the cheap way and just tape them onto the bridges railing.
We started shooting ! The very first take is a establishing shot in the direction of the two guards on our bridge. For budgeting reasons, we decided to light only parts of the set and keep the camera pretty close to the actors. This works. Gaffer Mark Warnecke and myself decided to go for a large scissor lift to put the 12 K on, because we need it as high as possible to simulate dusk and later moon light. It´s a bit tricky cause that lamp – nicknamed Karl-Heinz” is quite a heavy guy. Have to move “Karl –Heinz” quite some times during that night, depending on the different setups on the bridge. Meaning lamp off, the scissor lift down again from a height of 12 m, move the whole thing, put on a different gel and up again.
The next take starts with a Steadicam establishing shot on the Vulcan gun. The move is complicated because it introduces the two actors in this scene and has to be timed carefully with their dialogue. We constantly run into problems with our own Steadicam shadow as well and have to move “Karl-Heinz” again. I decide to leave the 12 K in it´s last position to not loose time again. This leaves us only a narrow margin for the scene with the shadow problem, but it works, the take´s in the can and we move on.
During moving the scissor lift again in it´s “low position” the gear was shaking too much and the 12 K almost came down! Even not erected, this was quite dangerous. Fortunatly, there were a couple of crew people standing by. Everyone ran to grab the falling lamp and we could stop it from falling off the scissor lift, but Tommy, one of the lighting guys, got injured at the wrist. Not too bad, luckily. “Karl-Heinz” is still working, only the lamps tripod is ruined. Thank god nothing more had happened.
Things are going slow this night. The team is not “warm”, everything needs longer than we expected. Pulling the heavy cables this afternoon for all the HMI lights took an eternity. Although we started yesterday with pre cabling the whole set and setting up the scaffolding next to the bridge for the fill lights, we´re already heavily behind schedule. Turns out we´re running in some problems with an actor, too. He just can´t remember his lines. My guess is we´ll loose 2 hours at least, just because of that. Ended up letting him read from the script, just to catch up in time. It´s frustrating, but it´s the only way to help the poor guy right now and get something in the can.
Only 30 minutes left before sunrise and we still have to do a complete scene. It´s already getting brighter. I planned that scene to be carefully blocked and staged, but there´s just no time. Decided to go for a “guerrilla” style – shooting here, no choice. Time is left only for 3 takes, all Steadicam. I have the actors improvising and the camera searching for the best shots during rolling. Hard time for focus puller Jens Fisher, but I can´t help it. This needs to be done now. After the three takes, sun´s up and we have to wrap. I´m frustrated and exhausted. Bad first day. We has all the time gone ? I´m thinking of shooting some additional stuff for the scene with doubles the next night, to fill in the gaps. Hope this works.
We´re considering our options: Shooting the bridge is not possible, the rain is just too heavy. We might take advantage of the fact that Thomas Morris, the actor who plays the Eric Galdhart character tomorrow, is already in his hotel and preparing for his scenes. Dietrich Hollinderbäumer is scheduled for today anyway. The decision is made to reschedule for the so called “Batcave Corridor Scene”. A quick call to the actor´s hotel and they prepare for that scene at once. Easy. Not that easy is the fact we have to move the entire production to another location, the so called “Brueckenkopfpark” This means to move, crew, equipment, lights, catering, costumes, makeup etc. to the new spot within just 2 hours, prep the set with the cabling for the scenes here, set up the lights and get ready to shoot at once.
We´re in the “Brueckenkopfpark”, another part of then old renaissance fortress. The rain pours heavily. It starts to rain INSIDE the building. Catering sets up chairs and tables for dinner later in the night. They have to avoid little waterfalls coming through the walls and ceiling. This is when you suddenly become aware of the 450 years this construction is old. All our stuff has to be moved out of the waterfall´s way, thereby avoiding the puddles. Fortunately, no water comes through where we shoot.
Shooting goes well. These are two great actors, Dietrich and Thomas. They are exactly what I imagined for those scenes and I´m very happy I was able to get Thomas the very last minute after another actor became unavailable on short notice, actually only one day before shooting was to start. Thomas worked with Spielberg on SCHINDLER`S LIST ! I asked him how that was. Just big and great, he says. We started with long Steadicam moves along the corridor, which is prepped again with Flo´s different signs to give the impression of a large facility. It´s the old Star Wars corridor trick: After a take, the actors walk out of frame, to appear in another corridor the next take, continuing their long conversation. In fact, it´s always the same corridor, carefully outfitted with different signs, a different lighting and some electric gadgets out of Ralf Burmesters workshop, which are being glued on the walls to give more depth. Works great and again I catch myself marveling about the simplicity of the magic of films.
It´s getting late, as usual. The actors are great, but it becomes obvious: They´re getting tired now. So is the rest of the crew, but no one complains. Something which makes this production so special, I catch myself to think again. Everyone is keen on getting this done, so we move forward, together, as a team, Working that long would have meant mutiny sooner or later on any other show, but not here. I´m proud I have this crew and cast.
We still have work to do. The last Steadicam move was great, but we detected a nasty shadow in the frame no one had seen before on the flickery video transmission from the Steadicam I carry around with me .Gotta do it again, from the beginning, cause there´s no cut planned here. This time it works fine. From now on, it´s shot and reverse, so we have the possibility of doing pick ups, if needed. Given the late hour, we´ll need them.
Dinner at 4 am. The waterfalls and the puddles are adding considerably to that surreal scene. Everybody is hungry and somehow, it feels kind of cozy to me. The food is great again, hot and there´s lots of it. Our body´s batteries charge up again, we can start with the rest of today´s (tonight´s ?) work now.
My actors are giving their best. It´s early in the morning and traffic becomes audible. Mark starts putting styros against the small windows of the location and it helps, but there´s still some noise of passing cars outside. I decide let the camera roll all the time and have the actors start with their lines as soon as there is a break in traffic outside. It´s long winded, but the only way.
Traffic outside is in full flow now. Luckily, the dialogues are in the can. The rest should be easy, some glances and Didi walking away, with which we´re done quickly. I´m happy, everything worked fine today, beside the late hour. Tomorrow, we´ll be back here, shooting with about 20 extras, so this time, no big move. We leave all our stuff, shut the doors and head for our beds, exhausted.
This afternoon, after sleeping as long as possible, we arrive on set to see there are no extras at all !Actually, we planned to have about 20 of them for today, we gonna shoot some panic scenes, with guards and personnel running around the corridors. In phase I, we had about 80 of them, so I didn´t expect to run into problems here. We´ve been trying to get people for this for weeks, but apparently, noone showed up. Turns out the reason was some bad communication. Some did show up, but at the other location we had to leave due to the rain situation. Some others appeared too early and went home already. Big confusion.
I´m on my cell phone, trying to recruit people of my family, but no one is available. One of our production trainees offers help from some of his friends. They arrive on set quickly, get into guard costumes get their prop gun and start to make photos of themselves in those cool costumes immediately. I have to tell them this is for private use only. They agree. Actually, I feel like prohibiting any photographs taken by private people, because I don´t want to see any of this in the net non – authorized. But what can I say ? They´re here for free, on short notice. They´re here to help, so I let them make the photos. As long as they´re not going public…
Now, we have some motivated young guards, but not nearly enough people to make those scenes work. Guerilla tactics again: I demand everybody not directly involved in the shooting into costumes: Make up, wardrobe, trainees, electricians etc. are becoming Securicon staff now, even Joern Lorenz, our set photographer, is outfitted as a guard. This should be sufficient.
I yell “Action!” and all hell brakes loose. People are running, files flying, chaos. Even Helen Freise´s dog is incorporated into this scene, running with another guard. We shoot several takes with different Staedicam moves to get coverage. I´m beginning to wonder if someone´s going to recognize it´s the same people running here all the time. Some of Flo´s sign´s come down due to the moisture in the walls, but everything else works fine, so we move on to shoot the surveillance camera feed, which is needed later in the Control Room set and then Hanno jumping down from the upper level in panic. After three takes, this is also done.
Now, it becomes complicated again. We´re wrapped here in the “Brueckenkopfpark” and have to move production again to the Citadel, our main location. This time, it´s another corridor with Thomas Morris and some panicking extras. We decide to pack just the things we need for the new scene and move the rest later. A good plan, but the gate to the citadel is locked as we arrive. Someone has to come over with the key. This costs us about half an hour again.
Due to our good prep, we´re able to set up the lights relatively quick. Again, I decide to go with the Steadicam. I´m just so happy to have it stand by all the time. It´s so fexible and quick. Setting up tracks and our dolly all the time would have cost us way more time, especially with that rough floor here in the corridor. Unfortunately, due to the lack of extras, their timing has to be pretty exact with Thomas. They´re supposed to run in his direction, while he is walking towards camera, like a robot. At some point, an extra is supposed to run into him. This proves to be tricky, cause all the time it looks like the extra is aiming at him, which is not what I intend. It must look like it happens as a result of the panic.
30 takes or so later, it´s in the can. It´s 4 am again. What´s left for today are some detail reshoots we missed while editing the phase I material. One shot is blood dripping down from a steel door. Nicole, our make up girl, has prepped some artificial blood and applies it to the steel door leaning against a wall. This shot is in a complete different location later in the film. We have to create the same light situation, so that it would fit in the scene where it belongs. I check the lighting on my MacBook, got a Quicktime movie of the rough cut with me all the time. We shoot very close up, to avoid matching problems with the original material. After that, we have to shoot a twitching hand in a black glove at the original place where we shot the whole “Cellblock” scenes. It´s again an extreme close up, but the floor has to be the same. Julian Eilmann, the script man, is jumping in as a double, but I´m not that satisfied with his hand´s performance, so I put on the glove myself, lay down on the dusty floor and have Jens Fischer shoot my hand. Again, I´m marveling about how much effort is put into every detail here. But that´s the way this has to be done. It´s a wrap for today.
Back on the bridge. We need to catch up with our original schedule. Actually, this Thursday was planned as a day off for the crew, but due to the bad weather and the overall schedule problems we decided to move on and get as much in the can as possible tonight, despite the fact that everybody looks pretty tired.
We start with a big wide angle mastershot from one of the citadel´s bastions. Tonight´s actor is Didi Hollinderbäumer again, walking over the bridge at night, searchlights sweeping the fortress. This shot wasn´t actually planned, but I figure it would be one rare opportunity to let the audience see as much of that great building as possible. It´ll require heavy vfx work by Tobias Richter´s crew again, to remove buildings and the green gras on the ground, which doesn´t fit into our story at all. It´s worth the effort. Good thing I haven´t told him yet. He´d kill me.
Lights are on again. The location looks great. Dozens of people busy for our project. The big lights, the scaffolding, reflectors. Everything looks so large scale, it makes me very proud. Some reporter of a local paper got wind of our shooting, although we decided not to call in the press this time. He wants to know some things and I´m having problems talking to him because I´m already nervously looking at my watch. I don´t want to run into problems again and use the night as much as I can. Nonetheless, I agree to let him take some pictures with Didi, me and the clapper for the paper. Somehow, this makes you feel a bit celebrity …
The mastershots are in the can. Now it´s time for some Steadicam work again. The shot will start on the bridge floor, following Didi´s steps and then move around him as he looks up to the fortress. Oliver, my Steadicam operator, is doing a good job. After some takes, we can move on.
Now it´s getting complicated again. We set up for a dolly shot on Didi. The camera will move in on him as he turns and removes his helmet. This is going to be hard for Jens, the focus puller again, because the cam´s iris is wide open and we move quite fast. I´m thinking of shooting it reverse and reverse it later in postproduction again, but it doesn´t feel right somehow. I fear it will look awkward in the film later and decide against it. As a result, we have do do the take about 30 times until it´s done. As far as I know, this is not THAT bad, Kubrick would have done 60 takes or so.
The crane is set up. Due to the fact I´m director, d.p. and cameraoperator on this project, I have to climb it myself again. Jens Fisher is at my side, as usual. We´re pretty used to spend hours and hours on this crane, like so many times before on all kinds of different productions, but this time is the first time we kind of feel a bit funny up here. Might be because the crane is about 5 m in height on a bridge which is about 7 meters high. Together, this makes 12m. Makes us feel a bit uncomfortable looking down. Especially when Hanno, our crane operator, is swinging the thing over the bridges railing, which he must to achieve the shot I want.
The crane moves in on Didi several times. He just has to look in the correct direction and mimic confusion. Not much for an actor like him. I hate it when shots don´t really offer an actor to act. There´s not much to act here, it´s more a technical approach. Actors don´t like that. Me neither, but there´s nothing I can do. The shot proves to be tricky especially for focus again and so we end up with about 20 takes again. Didi is a bit unnerved. He doesn´t understand why we´re doing this again and again. Because from his point of view, everything went fine. He´s right, but he´s been off focus again.
We did it. The crane goes into several cases again, we prep for a greenscreen shot. Actually, I envisioned a scene with Didi UNDER that greenscreen, to later remove the sky and replace it with something else, but that proves to be impossible time wise. I decide to go for a different approach and hope this will work, too. The greenscreen is set up BEHIND the actor. It´s a Steadicam semicircle move around Didi. Everything goes well. Ready for the last shot of the day.
Didi has to let go of his helmet. Easy. So it seems. But the damn thing is NEVER falling as it´s supposed to do. As those helmets were created, Ralf Burmester decided to make an easy padding inside, consisting of foamed material, which was never supposed to be on screen. Besides, all the cabling and the battery for the helmet´s intercom system is there, too. All is visible any time the helmet drops down. I want it to fall in a way we can´t see inside. Didi tries again and again. Then it happens: The helmet smashes. I can´t stand it. It´s like a child´s loved toy is broken. I love our props and we have only 4 of those helmets, which leaves us with 3 of them now. Fortunately, after take 30 or so, it seems we can wrap for today. Hope Ralf can fix the broken helmet.
We hurry to get some shots of the fortress main gate closing. Ralf build a nice lock prop with two big lights, red and green. I yell commands, it´s very stressful. The gate is opend, closed again, lights go from red to green and back to red, camera is rolling all the time. I shoot different angles and lenses. We need to get on the roof after this, shooting doubles for the scene we couldn´t finish on the first day.
Tommy and my script man, Julian, are in guard costumes now, filling in for the actors of day one. I´m on the citadel´s roof with Jens Fisher, the camera on tripod. I want them to argue with each other, then look in the horizon´s direction and desert their posts. All has to be done in a hurry, because suns getting up already. Also, I have to avoid their faces to make this work. During shooting, I realize their position has to be moved to frame everything properly. The Vulcan and the doubles are positioned anew. This time it works. I quickly change to a longer lens and before the sun´s up, I have two additional takes in the can. We can wrap for today. From now on, we´re weather independent ! The bridge is in the can, finally.
We´re in our Control Room set, preparing for the big establishing shot. I recall me standing here for so often in the past, planning exactly this shot, explaining it to so many people for so often. Now it´s real. I´m happy.
The set looks wonderful. Hanno and Peter, our construction guys, did a marvelous job again ! For 6 weeks they were here in this dirty, cold and moist place, working it into our control room set. The 4K HMI light is set up from above, through the girder in the ceiling´s opening, the rest has been prepared some days ago with me hanging under that high ceiling, prepping small light fixtures (Dedolights, 650w and Peppers mostly) to light some details and bring structure into the walls. Nothing of this looks “low budget”. The console with all the screens, the walls, the background with the two “mainframe computer” props. People are looking into the video feed monitor excitedly. We really got some serious production value here !
I decided to let Oliver, my Steadicam man, operate this crane shot, because I feel I have more control over the situation from here, at my HD monitor. I want to get as much out of this shot as possible and it´s not that easy. The crane has to be moved backwards on it´s dolly track, while at the same time, the camera has to be tilted and the focus has to be pulled by Jens. All this has to be timed perfectly with the trainee in a guard´s costume up there on the roof, while Didi Hollinderbäumer, as Hopkins, is sitting in his command chair, wonderfully designed and equipped by Ralf.
I want this shot to be perfect, so we have to do it several times. Sometimes, the haze we blew in the air to achieve a more dense look proves to be tricky. Because that opening in the set´s ceiling is real, wind blows through it and gets the haze moving, which makes it appear more like smoke clouds, which I don´t want. To make things worse, lots of insects are attracted by the 4 K HMI light pointing into a mirror we set up above the opening to create a light shaft on the console Didi is sitting at. They burn themselves in the light´s heat and tumble down into the set, clearly to be seen by the camera of course. Often, Didi has to scare them away from his console and his clothes. Moths aren´t exactly fitting in my idea of our science fiction world. But in the end, we make it. The shot´s done. Now, we´re up to shoot some additional crane stuff. I´d like to do all the crane shots first, to be able to remove the crane before moving on.
Catering was tasty this time again. We set up our “camp” directly in a yard of the citadel. The walls around give it a more room-like appearance, with one wall missing. We can see the big bridge from here. In the middle of the yard is a replica of a big old cannon. Again, the cannon, the bridge and the clear sky of the night make it a surreal experience somehow. Hey, why isn´t it raining when we´re inside ? Murphy´s law I guess. Having something to eat after exhausting hours of work is always great, and people are feeling better after being fed. Problem is, they are getting in “tired mode” after a heavy dinner also and given the time of the day, around 2:30 in the morning, it´s always hard to motivate the crew.
Being tired is not an option. It´s time to do all the shots from in front of Didi Hollinderbäumer, avoiding the console´s screens, because they won´t be ready until tomorrow. Didi´s gonna have a hard time. He is supposed to just sit and watch the screens, here and there touch a button, not much of a challenge for an actor. This is gonna get boring for him, but I can´t help, I need those shots. I decide to move the Steadicam constantly around him, each time with different lenses, to get as much coverage as possible. This works fine, but it´s even more boring for the actor, cause it´s totally off the chronological order. A normal thing on each film set, but here, it get´s a bit confusing, even for me, because we´re working on three scenes at the same time. I feel bad about putting him into that situation. The moths are still coming down, ruining some takes which were actually good, but there´s nothing we can do. I catch myself thinking how much more time it needs to have the whole population of them killed by our light, but they keep coming.
Again in the Control Room – set. There had been some rain in the night and the construction team wipes off little puddles from the console. Hanno is worried because the moisture is working on the wooden set pieces, bending the material slowly. I reassure him. It´s only one day to go now and then the set will be stored safely. Thinking about the fact that this has been planned and build for about 6 weeks, it makes one a bit sad to know it´s only been used for 2 days actually. But at least it´s not going to be destroyed, the fate of so many set pieces no longer needed.
This night, we have all the screens working and shoot everything from Didi´s POV. The running of the screens is tricky again, because what you see there is actually not THAT interactive. It´s Quicktime films, created for the purpose of giving “live” to our console. That means everything has to be timed and started, according to the action in the scene, by hand. It´s funny to see the 7 Apple laptops hidden behind the console and Marek and Ammar, responsible for feeding the screens, crouching there on the ground looking for the right films for the different situations of the console in our story. Well, film´s just an illusion, right ?
We have problems with our strobelights. I use them every time we have an alarm scene, adding more atmosphere. Last night, they must have gotten too much moisture. Mark is working on them, but to no avail. I´m devastated, because this will cause severe continuity problems. Yesterday, we shot WITH strobelight from the other side. Today, we shoot from Didi´s POV WITHOUT ? Impossible ! Where the hell are we supposed to get a replacement for the strobes in the middle of the night ? Tommy, the guy with his wrist injury, has the solution: We use one of the big HMI flood lights we had to simulate the searchlights outside on the bridge. He found out, just by playing around with it, that it could be set to something like “strobe” also. It´s a big light, but we manage to get it in place and start shooting again ! I´m thankful. Tommy saved the day !
Things are going good. We´re shooting some great Steadicam moves towards the console now, showing all the production value we have here. Hanno and Peter have turned the “mainframe computer props”. They can only be shot from one side, which made them cheaper in construction, but they added the feature of being able to turn them around. The Steadicam starts from behind the “mainframes”, lit only by some fluorescents, and moves in on Didi as the screens show “alarm”. Alarm lamps and strobe effect are making the scenery more intense. Also, I have Didi play several alternatives for the different scenes we do, giving me more opportunities later in postproduction. This is Didi´s last day shooting BUDDY, so I better get everything in the can before he leaves.
The weapon´s compartment is scheduled to be next. We shoot all the stuff on Didi first, to make him leave as soon as possible. Some issues with focus again, but nothing serious. The grenade looks really frightening. Did I mention I LOVE Ralf Burmester´s work ??
The crane is set up again. It´s a wide angle shot from high above, slowly moving in on the console with Didi. Jens is operating this time, I´m at the monitor. Only 4 takes and it´s a wrap for Didi ! One can really see that he´s happy to be able to go to bed. We shoot some monitors as he returns, in his normal street clothing, to say goodbye. As much as I´m happy to have his shots done, it´s always sad to recognize it´s one person´s last day on the show. Didi demands to get the film finished asap and I happily agree, knowing that there´s still so much to do.
It´s really hard for the crew to stay concentrated. It´s about 4 in the morning and we have to do this extremely complicated crane move over the console, to show very important details needed in the script. I decide Jens should operate and focus pull the shot, because this way, he has everything important directly in his hands. Hanno is operating the crane. The tricky thing is to keep things in focus all the time. We have to do it over and over again and stay focused ourselves. Between takes, I watch my crew´s faces. They all look extremely tired, some of them slowly fall asleep. I can´t blame them. When you are in charge all the time, getting tired is just not happening. You´re just flooded with adrenaline all the time. But in the other departments, when your job is done for one setup, and you have to wait for the next , like the electricians for example, it´s really getting hard to stay awake.
Take 38 of the crane move and we have it in the can ! I think it´s the shows record, never before did we have to do a shot this often. I´m happy no actor was involved. Now, we have to shoot the different monitor stages of the whole film. I´m operating, just with the help of a reflector being handheld by Ammar. Marek is pushing the buttons behind the console to feed the right films. It´s annoying, because it´s just putting the camera on the monitor and let it roll. Some pans, tilts, occasionally, the change of a lens. I hope I won´t forget something. Again and again, I consult my little piece of paper with handwritten notes, the only thing I could prepare in time for today´s shoot. There´s still work to be done and half the crew is a asleep on stacks of cable, cases or in some chairs here and there. I have no time wondering if this is still professional behaviour.
The screens are done. Hanno is filling in as a double for Didi´s hand on the keyboard and the joystick. It´s done quickly.
Time for the last setup. It´s just Hanno and me now. The weapon´s compartment has to be shot. As we open the compartment, we see that the LED indicator on the guardrifle isn´t working anymore. The batterie´s empty. Ralf never showed us how to open the thing. Damn. We start shooting without it, but I realize this is not working. Fortunately, after switching the electronics off for 15 minutes, the LED indicator is back on. Quickly, we shoot Didi Hollinderbäumer´s POV into the compartment.
Ralf´s mechanism for the grenade release is hard to shoot. I´d like an extreme close up, but it´s operated manually and the whole thing shakes any time we move it, which is destroying the illusion. We have to try a while before figuring out the right way. Next is Hanno doubling again for Dietrich´s hand taking a pistol. And then…I can´t believe it: WE´RE DONE !!!
It´s seven in the morning, sun´s already up and I decide to get everybody up again by shouting “WRAP !!”as loud as I can. Noone is amused, but at least, they wake up.
During wrapping, I realize we have forgotten a take. Great. After I personally checked and packed all the camera gear. It doesn´t help. We need that shot. I recruite Hanno again. He´s a bit unnerved, but does it, nonetheless. I put together the necessities and run down to the set again. Hanno follows, his right arm in Didi´s costume. It´s a detail shot on the intercom in the Control Room´s chair. Two buttons, lights go on and the taking of the microphone. I do it handheld, see Hanno´s jeans in the frame and ask him to put on the whole costume. He´s too tired to complain and we get that last shot in the can also.
This has been the longest day of phase III and it´s not over yet. Everything has to be cleaned, put in cases and stored within the set´s perimeter to be transported the next day. I´m tired now, very tired, but happy to have achieved so much in such a short time. We had our problems again, but regarding the circumstances, everything went great. I can´t wait to edit the stuff, but first, I´m deeply in need of some sleep.
Happy new year to you all ! We´ve used most of the X-Mas holidays to fine tune a couple of more scenes. Many of them are almost finished by now, but there´s still a lot to be done. Unfortunately, I caught a big cold and we had to postpone the rest of the days we had planned. On January, 9th, editing will be resumed and we hope to be finished until mid February. At the same time, the music composition is progressing as well. Stay tuned !
This morning, before we started editing again, we had a bunch of people in front of our AVID to do a quick and unofficial test screening. To our pleasure, laughs and excitement happened exactly were we wanted them to happen, even at this early stage of the editing process and without music or some kind of effects at all. The feedback was great ! While working on the film, one starts to get lost in the details sooner or later, so it is highly motivating to see people excited about what we do and it gives always a fresh view to things we might be unsure about here and there.
Ramin Sabeti and I have been in the editing room the entire weekend again and today we finished the first fine cut version of the first 60 minutes of the movie. At the end of the day, we had another two test screenings and the results were very satisfying. To have something more presentable for our test audience, we added some test music and sounds. It´s very interesting to see how such a bit of sound can add tremendously to the scene´s atmosphere, even at such an early stage.
The next couple of days will be used now to finalize our shot list for the VFX dept. headed by Tobias Richter from The Light Works in Cologne to specify the best way to get those effects done. Achim Schmidt, our composer, is working on the film´s orchestral soundtrack and will certainly be happy to be able to work with a finer cut now as well. It´s a great feeling to be able to have a glance at the completed 60 minutes of film with this first fine cut now, but there´s still a lot to do. The last shooting phase has to be planned and we will certainly end up with at least 5 fine cuts of the movie before we´ll be finished, but that´s the only way to assure we´ll get the best out of the material.
After intense work on several other productions during the last months, we finally started working on BUDDY´s postpro again. Inbetween, our VFX dept.,THE LIGHT WORK´s, has been really busy finishing more and more effect shots, which will be included shortly.
We will post some VFX stills here shortly.
For those interested: We just onlined my new director/cinematographer showreel site:
REAL BUDDY almost reached picture lock ! Editor Ramin Sabeti and I worked hard over the holidays and it´s almost done. Guess we just need about one more week...
Editing on the trailer is finished and it´s currently being graded while our new composer, Frank Stumvoll, is composing the music and creating sound fx.
The trailer will be available soon here at real-buddy.com !!!
Real Buddy’s leading actor and screenwriter Steve Hudson is one of present cinema’s promising filmmakers, combining acting, writing and directing talent.
Steve Hudson was born in London in 1969, and grew up in England and South America. After drama school in London, Steve Hudson starred in many film and TV productions making his acting-debut in George Sluizer’s THE COMMISSIONER. He wrote and directed several shorts, teaming up for the first time with REAL BUDDY director Frank Mirbach for his short film I ALWAYS WANTED.
Steve won a dozen awards including the UIP Prize at the Venice Film Festival and the German Short Film Prize in Silver for his drama short GOODBYE. Based on GOODBYE, Steve wrote and directed his feature film TRUE NORTH, receiving four BAFTA nominations, among them “Best Film” and “Best Director”. TRUE NORTH also made “Best Film” at Cherbourg -, Ourense - and Pamplona international film festivals.
With his genuine comical qualities yet charismatic performance Missouri born actor Eric Gladhart is the ideal partner to REAL BUDDY´s leading man Steve Hudson.
Eric Gladhart, born 1970, studied acting and graduated as a bachelor of science in theater & communication at Central Missouri State University and since worked for the stage in the US in several plays before moving to Germany to pursue a career for the big screen.
Eric has been playing in all kinds of movies, among them Olaf Ittenbach´s LEGIONS…FOR WE ARE MANY as a brutal ganster, in MUNICH MAMBO, directed by Rick Warmoth, and in Michael “Bully” Herbig´s TRAUMSCHIFF SURPRISE, one of Germany´s most successful movies of all times.
A shady father figure like Nathan Hopkins in Real Buddy doubtlessly demands for a character actor like Dietrich Hollinderbaeumer whose widespread repertoire includes numerous Shakespearean roles of the classic stage.
Since he has been trained by legendary directors like Ingmar Bergmann and Stig Torslow at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Hollinderbaeumer played leading and supporting roles in dozens of international films, among them Klaus-Maria Brandauer´s GEORG ELSER and Rainer Kaufmann´s THE LONG HELLO AND SHORT GOODBYE. He is also cast regulary on various TV productions and series.
He has been seen in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Oscar-nominated NS-epic DOWNFALL as field marshal Robert Ritter von Greim and JOY DIVISION, a drama directed by Reg Traviss.
Born 1957 in Essen, Heinrich Schafmeister is one of Germany’s most demanded character actors in movies, TV and on stage.
Trained at the famous Folkwang University in Essen, Schafmeister already made his cinematic debut 1984 in TREFFER by German director Dominik Graf. Many grand Box-office-hits of the last two decades like MAYBE...OR MAYBE NOT (DER BEWEGTE MANN), THE CAT (DIE KATZE), THE INVINCIBLES (DIE SIEGER) or CAMPUS owe their success to the unique talent of Heinrich Schafmeister.
Thomas Morris was born in Vienna (Austria) in 1966. He finished acting school in Vienna in 1990 and had his first lead in a movie, Houchang Allahyari’s MEATGRINDER the same year. Thomas shot THE BED YOU SLEEP IN with underground-star at the time Jon Jost. He also played Grun, Amon Goeth's (Ralph Fiennes) adjutant in Stephen Spielberg's SCHINDLER´S LIST, that won 7 Oscars.
In 1997 he left Vienna and lived in Berlin and Los Angeles. He worked with Burt Reynolds on CRAZY SIX (1997), and with James Franco, Rufus Sewell und Mark Strong on Kevin Reynolds’ historic epic TRISTAN & ISOLDE, produced by Ridley Scott.
Thomas still works in Theater occasionally, reads audio books and writes. His latest participations on major movies were alongside Clive Owen in Tom Tykwer’s THE INTERNATIONAL and Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s ANGEL´S AND DEMONS.
For an outstanding artist like Andreas Stoek, who dedicates himself completely to a project grasping his creative and intellectual interest, there is no contradiction to play a role in a stage play or being in a splatter movie. For him, a strange character like REAL BUDDY´S Mad Vic, combining religious paranoia and violent insanity, is a welcome artistic challenge.
Andres Stoek has been studying performing arts at the renowned Vienna Conservatory and in John Coustopulo’s Hollywood Acting Workshop before his first appearances in TV series, where he´s quite often cast as a villain. He moved on to appear in movies, starring in Niki List´s MUELLER´S BUERO, Nikoloaus Schilling´s THE SPIRIT and in TYKHO MOON, among Julie Delpy, Jean-Louis Trintigant and Michel Piccoli, directed by Enki Bilal.
Stoek also starred as Charlie Slumach in Frank Mirbach´s international prime time documentary SLUMACH´S GOLD.
REAL BUDDY has been nominated for 4 awards this year by the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in London !! Keep fingers crossed for us ! The film´s nominations are: "Best Costume", "Best Visual Effects/Design", "Best editing of a feature film" and "Best director" The Festival opens in London February, 11th.
Our friend Jamie Lee Smith of Global Rockstar Productions accepted the award during a wonderful gala event in Miami on behalf of producer/director Frank Mirbach, who couldn´t make it to Miami this year. We will post an article about her experiences during the festival here later.
Another prestigious award for our movie ! Thanks to the best shorts competition jury !!
REAL BUDDY has won again ! This time we have been awarded the "Diamond Award" for best cinematography and the "Platinum Award" for best narrative feature at International Independent Film Awards in Encino, California, USA ! Thanks to the jury and congrats to the whole cast and crew !!
Our movie was very well received in Berlin last night. Great crowd and fantastic talks with fellow filmmakers ! A very nice film festival !
REAL BUDDY will be screening in Texas again ! We are now official selection for the Interurban Film Festival in Denison, Texas. The Festival will take place April, 1st to April 4th, 2016.
REAL BUDDY´s German Premiere at Genrenale International Filmfestival, dedicated to German genre films, at February, 18th, 4pm German time. Meet the filmmakers in Berlin ! Tickets on sale now:
We are very proud to announce REAL BUDDY´s German premiere and official nomination for the 2016 GENRENALE Filmfestival in Berlin !! Genrenale Mineworks Film
It is with great pleasure and pride that we can announce the first major film award for REAL BUDDY today !
REAL BUDDY has been honored with the "SPECIAL JURY REMI AWARD" at the 48th annual Worldfest Houston International Filmfestival, in Houston, Texas, USA ! Producer/director Frank Mirbach accepted the award during a wonderful gala dinner in Houston today.
The Special Jury Awards are the highest awards for creative excellence in each major category of the longest running film festival in the world. REAL BUDDY convinced an international jury and came out on top of 4.500 category entries.
A big big thank you to all our crew in front and behind the camera, this award is for you !!!
REAL BUDDY will enter more festivals worldwide in the next months, so stay tuned for more news !!
Today marks the end of a long journey: we are very proud to announce REAL BUDDY´s US premiere and official nomination for the coveted REMI award at the 48th Worldfest Houston International Filmfestival in Houston, Texas, USA, the oldest independent film festival in the world. REAL BUDDY will be on the big screen at the AMC studio 30 theater in DTS 5.1 sound this weekend in front of a large crowd. Director/producer Frank Mirbach will attend the festival´s grand gala awards dinner on Saturday, 18th of April. Keep fingers crossed !!!
NAUTILUS magazine features article about REAL BUDDY as part of their "future prison films" topic. Two pages of interview with producer/director Frank Mirbach and lots of scene pictures !!
Had a nice test screening of REAL BUDDY today in a wonderful theater with our nice company logo projected on the big curtain. What a difference to see the film on the huge sliver screen for the first time...
At Berlinale, the REAL BUDDY team had lots of meetings with potential partners from around the world. Negotiations showed a great interest in the film. Chances are the project will get bigger...stay tuned !!
Work on REAL BUDDY´s soundtrack has almost been completed. Composer Siddhartha Barnhoorn created some great music for our movie ! Together with all the sounds that have been created for the film, we do have almost a thousand tracks of sound for the film !
SPACE VIEW magazine features REAL BUDDY !!
Renowned SciFi magazine SPACE VIEW features REAL BUDDY in an article and interview with director/producer Frank Mirbach !!
For the first time, we presented original props, set pieces and costumes to a large audience. What better event can one think of than Europe´s biggest SciFi convention ? Thousands of people came to see our exhibition during the four days of FedCon in Düsseldorf, shot videos, took photos and asked questions, the press was present also. REAL BUDDY T-Shirts and posters were sold, people had an exclusive first glance at our 1:6 Securicon guard action figure, soon available in a limited edition from SpaceArt (spaceart.de).
Over 400 people were visiting the REAL BUDDY panel hosted by Robert Vogel with VFX supervisor Tobias Richter, prop maker Ralf Burmester and director/producer Frank Mirbach. For the first time we presented finished scenes from the film and an exclusive FedCon making of.
We had nice conversations and a great closing ceremony with the stars from Star Trek, Aliens, Stargate, Star Wars and Galactica, Marina Sirtis, Richard Dean Anderson, Scott Bakula, Whil Wheaton, Lance Henriksen, Robert Duncan McNeill, Jeremy Bulloch, Kate Vernon ...
A big thank you from the whole REAL BUDDY team to FedCon boss Dirk Bartholomä for having us !!
Producer/director Frank Mirbach and his team introduced REAL BUDDY to international distributors at Berlinale Int. Filmfestival. There was even time for some red carpet pictures...
The REAL BUDDY project will be introduced at TREWA-Con, a science fiction/fantasy convention, in Miltenberg, Germany. Presented by Robert Vogel !
German film prop and model store SPACEart announces new and exclusive collaboration with the makers of REAL BUDDY for the production of several exclusive items from the movie ! First product will be announced here soon !
REAL BUDDY will be introduced among other independent German SciFi films at DREIEICH CON in Germany ! SciFi journalist Robert Vogel will lecture about 4 different films currently in production...
The REAL BUDDY project will be presented at WEEKEND OF HORRORS CONVENTION In Bottrop, Germany !!
This year´s convention guests: Danny Trejo (From dusk till dawn, Desperado, Con Air, Machete), Tom Savini (Planet Terror, Machete), Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon, Under Siege, Predator II), Jake Busey (Starship Troopers, The frighteners, Identity) Fred Williamson (Inglorious Basterds), Tito Larriva (From dusk till dawn, Machete, Desperado)...
and we´re there, too ;)
REAL BUDDY trailer and scene grabs will be shown in a presentation about new German SciFi films at DAEDALUS CONVENTION in Bochum, Germany !!
After lots of work and with some minor delays, real-buddy.com, the official source for any information related to our movie REAL BUDDY, is finally online ! We hope you like it. Your feedback and comments are appreciated ! Just click "contact us" in the upper right corner of the site to drop us some lines...
Mineworks Film launches official REAL BUDDY FACEBOOK SITE !
Please klick "Like" and help us spread the word !!
Illustrator Florian "Flo" Rohn finalized the design for the official REAL BUDDY film poster before actual painting begins. Here is an impression of what it will look like...
Specialty props man Ralf Burmester presented a selection of our film props at SPACE DAYS in Darmstadt. Visitors and media showed great interest and were thrilled and excited by our exclusive presentation of the new REAL BUDDY trailer at Ralf´s booth !
REAL BUDDY - a dark Sci-Fi End-of-Days satire
A private fortress-like prison in a deserted landscape of the near future. Heavily armed guards, thick walls, total surveillance. No privacy. No hope. No escape. Outside, the danger of a final, annihilating thermonuclear war dominates humanity's psyche - and the lurid media exploits this foreboding. Inside the cavernous industrial-style fortress prison, with nowhere to go, the jailbirds seek sanctuary either in faith or in madness. Or both.
One inmate couldn´t care less. 5 million in cash - and the possibility of a bright, affluent future in the outside world - awaits his release. After six and a half years of imprisonment, neurotic inmate Morris looks forward to his discharge the next morning, planning to finally gain from the ingenious heist that landed him in this hellhole of a penal colony, surrounded by lunatics and outlaws. Jealously guarding the whereabouts of his loot throughout his captivity, he´s only got one problem: the booty is inside the fortress - and all the other greedy crooks know !
With his physically strong but simple-minded cell-mate Joe, and the affable but shady warden Nathan Hopkins at his side, Morris has been able to withstand all the coercion and misdeeds inflicted by fellow inmates - and even the reprisals of the suspicious guards - all who are desperately trying to force him to disclose his secret. Even Mad Vic - a deranged, maniacal and severely overused tattooist's sketchpad of a man - has been unable to pry the secret out of him.
Glorying in his ability to withstand the deceptions and misdeeds, and having fooled everyone, Morris is looking forward to his release the next morning. Only a few hours more and he is a free man! But as sirens suddenly begin to wail in the isolated fortress and chaos explodes in the prison´s corridors and cells, things don´t quite go according to plan ... and Morris is forced to make his final decision.
"Someone must give you a serious budget of a serious amount of money to work with"
"Real Buddy Is Indie Filmmaking At It’s Finest"
"The action and effects were fine and the amount of satirical humor and cultural comment and laugh out loud comedy was all there"
"This genre of movies rarely delivers the amount of witty observations about the human condition that you were able to make without losing the high action content"
REAL BUDDY is a character driven science fiction satire in an end-of-days scenario. It is full of story twists and unusual in more than one way.
“We did everything that one shouldn´t do when on an independent budget.” says director/producer Frank Mirbach. „The basic idea was a 10 minute film with only three characters in a single room. But we ended up with a crew and a cast of almost 300 people as the story evolved during the script stages.“
“REAL BUDDY was actually devised as a short and was planned to be produced in a quick and dirty style to be entered into the festival circus. But our love for the movies we´ve grown up with somehow got in the way and the film got bigger and bigger by the time.”, says Mirbach.
Based on the script “THE LAST ELEVEN” by British writer Mark Weal, the story evolved into REAL BUDDY thanks to a cooperation with writer/actor Steve Hudson (TRUE NORTH), with whom Mirbach teamed up with as director of photography and co-producer for his short film “I ALWAYS WANTED”. It was in the early stages of script writing when Mirbach decided to offer the leading role of neurotic Morris to Steve. “Steve had pushed the story forward considerably, adding a sarcastic, dark humour that can only be written by a Brit. Given that Steve was a also a great actor and fit physically to what I had in mind for the part, this step was only logical.”
With the leading actor in place, casting the other roles had been easier than the production anticipated. “The prison in our story was created as a place owned and operated by a private, internationally operating company, with inmates from all over the world. With that in mind, we looked for actors from different nations sporting all kinds of accents. We considered this to be complicated, but once we´d shown the script around, people immediately fell in love with the story.”
Even though REAL BUDDY was realized on a limited budget, the filmmakers were able to create a convincing and credible science fiction world. Cast and crew happily agreed to work way out of their usual fees and thus things got moving quickly. “The script demanded for unique and elaborate sets, costumes and props, which had to be designed and fabricated by our art department. We created a whole world, which, on a budget like ours, normally is to be avoided. But with the tremendous help of all involved, we managed.“
However, keeping costs as low as possible was vital. Among many other tactics to achieve this was the separation of the shooting schedule in different phases. This consisted mostly of 5-7 shooting days in a row, taking place in only one or two locations. “By limiting the shooting schedule this way, the cast and crew, working for reduced fees, hadn´t been kept away from their officially paid jobs for too long.”, continues Mirbach.
Made by a bunch of film freaks, adoring scifi - movies like STAR WARS, BLADE RUNNER, ALIENS etc, REAL BUDDY is certainly somewhat influenced by the films oft that era, especially when ideas were on the table for the movie´s production design. But, as Mirbach says, “It was more the satirical humour in films like Terry Gilliam´s BRAZIL that kind of got things going story wise. We wanted to take elements from our favorite films and create something very unique“. And so the filmmakers combined sci-fi elements with a dystopian vision and added British wit to the mix, resulting in a movie full of satirical humor, cultural comment and laugh out loud comedy.
“We all love the films we grew up with.“ says production designer Rainer Laws, who was initially approached by the production to create storyboards. But Laws became so intrigued by the script he saw the opportunity and decided to come on board as a co-producer as well. “It´s no surprise you can find that rugged, heavy duty industrial design throughout all of the BUDDY sets. It´s a tribute to our forvorite era of science fiction films.” he continues. The crew even incorporated small hints to well known TV shows and movies into the sets. “I wonder if anyone will ever notice all the little homages we hid in the sets, but as a film buffs, we just loved the idea to do this.”
Mirbach also wanted REAL BUDDY to have it´s own unique design, something which had never been seen before. Therefore the team devised a design they called “Renaissance meets flatscreen”, combining elements of medieval architecture with a rugged, industrial sci-fi look.
“That look contributed considerably to what we wanted: An intimidating, purely functional, cold and isolated place as a set up for our story.”, says Mirbach. “Being locked up in that place, in the middle of nowhere, what would people do facing the ultimate threat to their lives without being able to run ?”
REAL BUDDY offers some answers, strange, violent and funny at the same time.