A scene from the series.
Counter Revolution and Takeover are the latest in a series of TV dramas that focus on fundamental political changes in modern German history. The whole series, called Vom Reich zur Republik traces the history of Germany for a century from 1848. The production company for the series is Tellux-Film GmbH based in Munich and the director of photography is Markus Fraunholz, BVK. Markus explains why Kodak film stocks were so essential to the success of these productions.
“Shooting digital wasn’t really an option,” he says. “We are doing high-class historical movies with lots of actors (up to 160 per movie) lots of locations but only 16 shooting days for 90 minutes. We don’t just have to be fast, we have to be super-fast and I just can’t imagine doing that digitally. With film you don’t need a big monitor to judge whether all the details are OK and I think film reproduces the texture of historical costumes especially uniforms and shimmering dark velvet in an absolutely unique and wonderful way.”
“For these two episodes I used Kodak VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 7207 for daytime interior and exterior scenes and the new Kodak VISION3 200T Color Negative Film 7213 for night shots. I love the way both these stocks handle highlights and mixed lighting situations and I love the rendition of colours and skin tones. In post-production I normally do a slight color-decreasing and these stocks give me the perfect base."
(L to R) DP Markus Fraunholz B.V.K, Producer Martin. Choroba, Director Bernd Fischerauer.
“The look I am aiming for is best described as ‘modern historical’. I like deep blacks and natural-looking skin tones. For close-ups of women I often use a light diffusion such as Schneider’s Black Classic Soft Filter. As modern TVs are more contrasty I tend to light that way as I would for cinema release.”
“We use a lot of locations that double for historical places either because the actual locations are not accessible or no longer exist. I always struggle not to see outside windows but at the same time give the viewer the impression there is an outside. Using film I know exactly how to create a natural looking blown-out window. I also know that I can restore details like curtain structure in post because it’s all on the film. Quite often we shoot in huge spaces, like big halls in castles, and the natural fall-off of light is recorded so smoothly on film that I can choose exactly what to show and what not. Because of the limited time and budget, I try to light everything from outside and give the director and the actors the best possible space to move around in.”
“Most of the time I use a single camera, an ARRIFLEX 416, but on these last two films I also used an ARRIFLEX 435 to give the VFX department a bigger negative.”
Markus concluded by saying that this series lets viewers observe historical events in a very cinematic form so the use of film is simply logical.
Counter Revolution premiered (in HD-Cam SR) at the ARRI cinema in Munich earlier this year in advance of its TV showing in May on public TV station BR Alpha whilst Takeover is scheduled to be shown in November.
Shooting at night
This was the first time I had ever used (KODAK VISION3) 20 Color Negative Film 7213 film stock and also the first time I had never used 500T at all for nights. So I was a little apprehensive as to whether I could light one stop more (compared to 500 ASA) without losing a natural looking night-look, especially for exteriors.
At the beginning of the shooting, I over-lit the nights slightly. When I saw the first rushes it was all much too bright! Towards the end of the shooting, I discovered that I had lit almost everything as if I had had VISION 500T in the camera! And there was almost no visible grain! I’ve never shot such beautiful nights before - I was really amazed. I surely will use it again for the next two movies.