Developing the Material, Take One
The filmmaker sits on the floor surrounded by a pile of paper.
He reads the children’s stories. It’s a lot of fun.
In his head, every story transforms into a great film. He sees:
crime films full of action, with suitcases full of drugs and money,
sport films and fantasy films with magic luggage, talking luggage,
and luggage full of secrets.
The stories are wonderful, clear and lively.
Here are seven randomly chosen mini-segments from the suitcase
Imagine an approximately one minute film for each text.
Then write down, everything that you need in order to realize these
One night the parents wanted to go out, and quickly said good-bye
to their child.
Good-bye my child”, said the mother, and the father said “Don’t
forget, zou are not allowed to go up in the attic.” “Ya,
Ya, bye moma, bye pappa“, said the child and then they were
Jan sat at a half disintegrated table with his accomplices. He
remembered it exactly. It was on the 23rd of March, 1982. He had
robbed a bank. In the rush, he didn’t know where to put the
money so he buried his suitcase. PHILIPP
Yippee, thought Luci, then I can bring the talking suitcase into
my room, when Mamma is away. She was just about to pull it down
the stairs, when the suitcase said: „Ouch! You’re
hurting me, don’t be so rough with me.“ “Okay,
Okay“, Luci said and carried it gently into her room. JENNIVER
The Iraq War 2004. A GSG9 agent was sent to the war. He was left
wounded. He was picked up by an Iraqi and healed. He stayed with
him, until one day he discovered a piece of paper, on which was
written “Celebration of Peace in Berverly Hills – Date:
August 8, 2008” WOJ
In this way, the contractor stole even more airplanes. He had
them all repainted and thus put a new airline on the market. JACOB
She fell into the suitcase and landed at the sea. She noticed
that she could go back through the suitcase, but still played on
the beach. Then she went back home. JULIA
It made such a big bang that the windows rattles and broke. Quickly
the three hoodlums grabbed the money from the delivery vehicle,
packed it into the suitcase and took off. PATRICK
Development of Material, Take Two
During our first production meeting with everyone who was participating
in the school, we choose the three stories, which we want to film:
The children who want to, introduce the stories which they like
On the board, we collect short descriptions of the stories. We
sort them according to genre: sport film, thriller, and fantasy.
We then agree upon which stories to film.
Our idea, to connect the films with each other by using the same
suitcase in different “roles”, is not easily understood
and is met with little enthusiasm.
„That’s totally illogical, when the suitcase suddenly
has different contents."".“
We illustrate our idea with the example of a mobile trailer that
always changes its owner when there is a cut.
We build groups, which try to construct suitable transitions between
the chosen stories about the suitcase.
In this early stage, the manipulative possibilities of filmmaking
are not really graspable.
That it’s possible for example to throw a suitcase out the
window of a children’s room, and then to land inside the
train station in the next shot, or that the suitcase at the end
of the first film is filled with stolen money and in the next scene
though with doping substances, are constructions that stem from
the fanciful brains of adults – which at least in this theoretical
form – elicit a certain lack of appreciation from the children.
Even though they have seen already seen this principle hundreds
of times in films. Their ability to imagine is limited to closed
stories; in their eyes, this strange connecting is “our problem”.
Divided into three groups, each with one of the stories, the children
begin to make an instruction manual for the production of their
The story is divided into scenes, and these then into shots.
A sketch is made that depicts the picture content from the perspective
of the camera (storyboard).
Plots/sequences of events and dialogues are written.
Props that are needed are noted, as well as what sounds are in
A form from the teacher is provided for this. (03Abb.)
The filmmaker, wanders from group to group and ponders with them,
how one could for example make the entrance to the school into
the Miami Airport.
(„Post a sign, which says ‚Flughafen Miami’ on
„Does anyone know, what Flughafen is in English?“ "
„Exactly/Right... so announce in English then, next flight to Berlin or
something like that“ ""
„And may palm trees?“"
„But then we can’t shoot that in the break as to many children are
running around then.”)
At the school there are a lot of children who are hearing impaired
and who come to school in a taxi, thus, just before eight there
is a hoard of taxis just like at Tegel Airport.
During these group sessions, the filmmaker secretly files the
children into drawers:
Who is telegenic? Who is extroverted? Who can express themselves
well? Who is friendly? Who moves slowly, but has presence? Who
is thoughtful and caring? Who is good at reading? Who makes eye-contact?
Who says ‘hello’ first? Who can sing, dance, or plays
a specific sport?
Who makes contact first? Who signals, that they would like to have
contact? Who is attentive? Who has useful experiences for the project?
Who is cringing? Who reacts to a friendly request? Who has a secret?
Who has their own sense of humour? Who has experiences that one
doesn’t normally have in grade six? Who is somehow alone?
Who can laugh about themselves? Who likes themselves?
A boy recommends himself right away during the first meeting,
as the man for a main role, because he had already acted in a real
theatre. We will come back to him.
During the next two weeks, the script writing teams will finish
screenplays in German class and in their independent work time.
Note: On the fringe of the project the children often noticeably
begged the teacher for independent work [time].
Project Idea: Interview children with regards to the theme: How
independent does independent work make us and independent of what?
(illustration screen play page)
Attached are (the transcripts of) the scenes from three screenplays
(as far as they have been thus developed). They are not yet very
well developed and from my perspective still require a lot of re-writing.
The following still has to occur: - complex scenes have to be divided
into single shots.
- the characters have to be more clearly described
- the dialogue has to be developed
- the storyboards (not attached) have to be drawn more clearly
I could imagine that you meet with each of the groups tomorrow for 15-20 minutes,
and using one scene as an example, make it clear what is absolutely necessary
for shooting a scene. According to the motto: we can’t just start to
think about what the character says or does on the first day of the shoot.
And: Every time we position the camera in another place, a new page in the
Something like that wouldn’t be bad I
What do you think?
Oh ya, and then you should also tell the children, where you see basic problems.
I am looking forward to tomorrow!
The screenplay authors’ moods are somewhat irritable.
It all turns into work again after all.
For one thing, in transferring the story to the screenplay forms, it was made
clear to them that one or the other of great idea is with out means not at all
realisable or by our means would somehow looks stupid.
Inspected more closely, the entire thing looks a heck of a lot like a worksheet.
And they reach their limit with regards to the designing of the conceptional,
logistical, organisational, and dramaturgical structures. And who likes to reach
Perhaps as an introduction, we should have analysed a film that
already existed, and should have broken it up into its components
in order to get a feel for the work that was coming for us?
And perhaps we should have made clear earlier, that we didn’t
have to produce three evening-filling feature films, but instead
that all three films combined should be twenty minutes long?
„But that isn’t an end of the world!“ ""
Desperately the filmmaker looks around the room. He too doesn’t
know how one quickly films an end of the world.
The authors suggest a solution „simply cut good scenes from THE DAY AFTER
TOMORROW into ours“, " that they interestingly enough already have
on video/CD and will bring in tomorrow.
As the filmmaker talks about thievery, and says that one can’t just steal
scenes from another film, his eyes fall upon a dusty globe standing on the
top of the cupboard.
„ Look up there! The globe! We simply pour benzene over it, light it on
fire and film it and the end of the world is finished!”"
At first the girls were disappointed, that the finale of their film could be
so cheaply shot, but then they warmed up to the idea.
It didn’t happen with the mentioned globe, because that belonged to Ms.
X and had a stand made from tropical wood, but the problem was fundamentally
In any case, three days before the shooting was to begin, three never-ending
thirty page long screenplays were finished. Complicated, without clear exposition
of the characters, without plausible plots, without precise conflicts, without
twists and turns, lacking suspense and surprise endings, without pointed
… almost as bad as a professional screenplay.
I mean, you don’t hand out manuscript paper to a sixth grade class on
Monday morning and want to hear a symphony concert on Friday afternoon!