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Scene from "Lulu" (photo courtesy of Zoom Medienfabrik)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2005

It was a case of 'never change a winning team' when ZDF's digitally broadcast Theaterkanal commissioned teamWorx to bring Frank Wedekind's play Lulu to the TV screen after the success of the Potsdam-based company's 2003 production of Bertolt Brecht's Baal (which had its premiere in the Berliner Ensemble theater during the 2004 Berlinale).

Producers Christian Rohde and Joachim Kosack once more turned to filmmaker Uwe Janson to adapt the play and serve as director. "We have a mixture of established people and newcomers in the cast and crew," says Rohde. "We decided pretty quickly that Jessica Schwarz would be the right person to play Lulu and we have such well-known names as Matthias Schweighoefer [who played the title role of Baal], Sylvester Groth, Alexander Scheer and Dietrich Hollinderbaeumer. But the male lead is taken by 'new face' Carlo Ljubek who had also worked previously with Jessica and Matthias in Off Beat (Kammerflimmern)."

There is also new blood on the other side of the camera: Lulu is the first feature-length production for DoP Philipp Sichler after his graduation from the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg where he lensed Florian Schwarz's Let the Cat Out of the Bag (Katze im Sack) which won the First Steps Award last year and was shown in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino section at the Berlinale in February; and Lulu will be edited by Florian Drechsler who also worked on Schwarz's diploma film.

"Unlike Baal, which had some outside locations, Lulu is being shot completely in the Haus Cumberland on Berlin's Ku'damm," Rohde explains. Sets were built in the various rooms of the former luxury hotel which has been empty for the past few years, but Janson does not indicate any specific time or place even though he has kept close to Wedekind's original text for his adaptation.

"We were shooting on video using a consumer 25p DV camera so that we could get really close up," Rohde continues. "This allowed us to be very mobile and spontaneous – often, the takes were 20 minutes long!"

Janson, whose previous directing credits have included the TV movies Eine Liebe in Saigon and Die Geiseln von Costa Rica and the feature films Nachts im Park and Verfolgte Wege, devised a shooting schedule which saw one act being filmed per week: the first day was taken up with rehearsals, the second and third days with shooting, and a fourth day dedicated to improvisation.

"Uwe has a great range," Rohde notes. "He is prepared to tread new paths and has the courage to adopt an unusual approach to the material. He is ready to use the freedom to experiment and improvise."

"As was the case with Baal, Lulu also has a contemporary relevance," he argues. "The play addresses such issues as the role of the woman, of the seductress and the perception of women in society. It takes on further topicality in the age of ‘it-girls’ and Paris Hilton."

Genre Drama

Year of Production 2005
Director Uwe Janson
Screenplay Uwe Janson
Cinematography Philipp Sichler
Florian Drechsler
Oliver Biehler
Olaf Rehahn
Cast Jessica Schwarz, Sylvester Groth, Carlo Ljubek, Alexander Scheer, Matthias Schweighöfer, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer
Producers Joachim Kosack, Christian Rohde
Production Company teamWorx Television & Film/Potsdam, in cooperation with ARTE, 3sat/Mainz for ZDF
Format color
Shooting Dates Berlin, June 2005
Sound Technology Stereo

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