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(Faktor 8)

Director Rainer Matsutani with producers Max Wiedemann & Quirin Berg (photo © Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2009

It was a case of really good timing that The Lives of Others producers, Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion, were looking for a long-haul jet for their new action thriller Faktor 8 (working title) and Munich's Bavaria Studios were at the same time planning to install a high-quality airplane set as a permanent feature at its Geiselgasteig studio lot.

“There had been a plane set constructed at the Babelsberg Studios last summer for Hager Moss Film's production of Crashpoint Berlin, but that was a short-range jet and we needed a long-haul plane,” producer Max Wiedemann recalls.

“Usually, scenes in airplanes are written out of screenplays because it is always too difficult to shoot those scenes. You rarely can find an empty plane to shoot in because they are either being serviced or are in the air,” he explains.

Moreover, the increased complications and security requirements for film shoots since the events of September 11, 2001 had also made filmmakers think twice about locating stories on airplanes, and the only real alternative would have been to go all the way to the Mojave Desert and film in one of the aircraft there.

That is, until, prompted by the production of Wiedemann & Berg, Bavaria Film decided to invest half a million Euros in the construction of a so-called “mock-up” – an authentic reconstruction of a 30 meter long-haul aircraft – which was christened “Bavaria” and now hosted its first production – Faktor 8 – just a week after being unveiled to the press on March 11, 2009.

Six months were spent by Michael Klee and his team at Bavaria Studios on the research and planning for the development of the mock-up system as well as sourcing the airplane parts.

Rather than bringing an American set designer with a background in plane mock-ups onboard, they decided for the D-I-Y option, using original parts which could be obtained from an aviation supplier. “That was the only way that we could do justice to the high standards we had set for ourselves as far as functionality was concerned,” Klee says, adding that the team is “also proud of our cockpit where real flight simulations can be carried out.”

“Today, we can proudly claim to be able to offer Europe's top-quality and most flexible airplane mock-up system,” says Michael Klee. “The construction team has not only reconstructed an airplane, but has also created a set which fulfils all of the requirements for a high-quality feature film or a TV event movie.”

Faktor 8 marks a second collaboration by Wiedemann & Berg with director Rainer Matsutani after his action movie Raging Inferno which has been one of the best selling ProSieben TV movies ever for sales agent SevenOne International.

The new film also sees Matsutani reunited with Raging Inferno DoP Gerhard Schirlo who had lensed Hui Buh – The Goofy Ghost.

Starring Muriel Baumeister, Oliver Mommsen, André Hennicke, Emilia Schuele, Stephan Luca, Francois Goeske, Gesine Cukrowski and Heio von Stetten in the leads, Faktor 8 opens on board a holiday jet returning from Thailand to Munich when a mysterious epidemic breaks out, swiftly killing numerous passengers.

The plane is rerouted to a former military air base and placed under top-security quarantine. Gregor (Mommsen), a pilot for the same airline, hears of the disaster and frantically tries to save his wife Anne (Baumeister) and their daughter Julia (Schuele), both fighting for their lives on board the plane.

As the situation escalates, Gregor manages to sneak inside the no-go zone. With no antidote or vaccine medically available, the security officials and crisis management staff face a fundamental decision: can the lives of a few passengers be sacrificed to protect the survival of millions of people?

“The story delivers everything the audience will expect from a high-tech thriller, but, in the same way, comes up with a unique setting for a virus catastrophe like you've never seen before," says Wiedemann, noting that screenwriter Benedikt Roeskau's “great strength is that he really reads up about the subject when he is working on a script. In this case, it is the latest findings about viral research, so that the story has a basis in facts, even though it may be highly dramatized.”

Faktor 8 will have a look that's competitive with comparable US television productions,” he adds, “and this is largely thanks to the hi-tech set concept developed by production designer Jana Karen and extraordinary visual effects by CA Scanline.”

Genre Adventure, Drama

Year of Production 2009
Director Rainer Matsutani
Screenplay Benedikt Roeskau
Cinematography Gerhard Schirlo
Marco Pav D'Auria
Jana Karen-Brey
Cast Muriel Baumeister, Oliver Mommsen, André M. Hennicke, Emilia Schüle, Stephan Luca, Francois Goeske, Gesine Cukrowski, Heio von Stetten
Producers Quirin Berg, Max Wiedemann
Production Companies Wiedemann & Berg Film, ProSieben/Unterfoehring
Format 16 mm, color
Shooting Dates Munich, March - April 2009
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, MEDIA

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