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Paula's Secret (Paulas Geheimnis)

Paula's Secret
Scene from "Paulas Geheimnis" (photo © Element E/Karin Gerdes)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2005

Eleven-year-old Paula is in love, secretly, very secretly, with a prince. Tobi is crazy for Paula. Except he is not a prince and, anyway, Paula’s prince doesn’t exist except in her diary. And Tobi has seen who stole it. Now the two of them are out to track down the thieves.

The concept behind Paulas Geheimnis, writer-director Gernot Kraa’s children’s film, might be simple but, like a good soufflé, the success lies in the light touch; using the best ingredients and careful, unrushed, preparation.

“I love kids’ stories,” says Kraa (prounounced Kray), “and Paulas Geheimnis is a project of the heart. It’s also great fun, with its various impulses and sources. When the chemicals of a story and the characters come together, they develop their own dynamic.”

Believing that “it’s important for a children’s film to have an adventure, a tension, that is also real,” Kraa, himself the father of a daughter, has taken great pains not to alienate the male audience. “Tobi is just as important as Paula,” he says. “The film is about a boy and girl from different social backgrounds who come together to make an unbeatable team.”

Planning to direct from the very start, Kraa spent the last ten years working mostly as a television writer after directing the children’s feature, Die Distel.

For Lars Buechel the big question was whether or not, after directing several features including Erbsen auf halb 6 and Jetzt oder Nie, he wanted to produce. But, he says, “attracted by the excellent script,” it was an easy decision “even though we hadn’t planned to do any children’s films at all! It all comes down to the script, whether features or our other activity, commercials and, after meeting Gernot, we decided to produce.”

Buechel “approached the film like we would any other – script and cast are paramount. It took us 18 months and we saw more than 500 kids. We got some very good actors and we have an excellent team including the DoP Eeva Fleig.

Paulas Geheimnis won’t be the last time Buechel dons his producer’s hat and he’s also keen “to see the return of genre films to Germany.” As long as the script is good, of course!

“There are so many of them,” he says, “and at least ninety percent of them are bad! Everyone thinks they can write one and it’s just not the case. I think it’s very important that the director writes or at least co-writes and the most successful ones do that. I am very image-driven and I am very keen to see how Gernot does it.”

Genre Adventure
Category Feature
Year of Production 2005
Director Gernot Kraa
Screenplay Gernot Kraa
Cinematography Eeva Fleig
Soeren Goerth
Dirk Reichardt, Stefan Hansen, Max Berghaus
Karin Betzler
Cast Alberto Berisa, Constanze Spranger, Juelide Girisken, Paul Vincent de Wall, Thelma Heintzelmann
Producers Lars Büchel, Bernd T. Hoefflin, Ingo Fliess, Dagmar Ungureit
Production Companies element e filmproduktion/Hamburg, Filmautoren AG/Mannheim, in co-production with ZDF
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, June – August 2005
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
Festivals Prix Visionica Wroclaw 2007, Giffoni 2007, Golden Elephant 2007, Berlin & Beyond San Francisco 2007
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, MFG Baden-Württemberg, BKM, MSH, Nordmedia
element e filmproduktion GmbH
Beim grünen Jäger 6a
20359 Hamburg/Germany
phone +49-40-4 44 65 30
fax +49-40-44 46 53 33,
Filmautoren AG
Ingo Fliess
Hafenstrasse 49
68159 Mannheim/Germany
phone +49-6 21-10 75 64 83
fax +49-6 21-10 75 64 84