Production ramps up in northern Germany

Nordmedia brings projects to Lower Saxony, Bremen

BERLIN — It may not be the first region that comes to mind when looking at film and television production in Germany, but Lower Saxony and Bremen are playing an increasingly significant role as producers here spread out in search of regional coin.

While national incentives like the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and its Federal Film Fund (DFFF), as well as big regional funders like Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmstiftung NRW in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria’s FilmFernsehFonds Bayern are the dominant subsidy operators, smaller players like Nordmedia are vital for the local industry in its region.

Established in 2001, Nordmedia provides $10 million ($14.3 million) in annual support for film and television production and development. Org’s main shareholders include regional pubcasters NDR and Radio Bremen, along with the states of Lower Saxony and Bremen.

Nordmedia provides a mix of services. “In addition to subsidies, we also offer assistance in location scouting and contacts to local producers and facilities,” says Nordmedia managing director Thomas Schaeffer. “Lower Saxony and Bremen are marked by a unique diversity — from mountains to coasts, big cities and idyllic countryside, modern and historic architecture. You find everything here that a screenplay calls for.”

Nordmedia collaborates with other entities. While regional rivalries still exist among the subsidizing bodies looking to attract major productions to their home turf, more and more high-profile projects rely on interstate support, says Jochen Coldewey, Nordmedia’s head of funding.

“There’s a lot of cooperation, especially big productions in which we all work with the same producers. The competition is not as extreme as it was 10 years ago, especially now with non-regional incentives such as the DFFF.”

Nordmedia regularly works with a number of high-profile filmmakers. It joined other regional and federal subsidies to bankroll Fatih Akin’s last four films: “Head-On,” “Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul,” “The Edge of Heaven” and “Soul Kitchen,” which was skedded to premiere in Venice.

Akin’s latest pic, which shot in Bremen as well as Hamburg, received more than $300,000 from Nordmedia in addition to some $2.7 million in coin from other funders.

Marie Reich’s coming-of-age drama “Summertime Blues,” starring up-and-coming thesp Francois Goeske, picked up more than $500,000 from Nordmedia.

Pic follows a teenager coming to terms with his parents’ divorce who finds love in a small town while spending the summer in southern England. “Summertime Blues,” which hit theaters Aug. 20, also lensed in and around Bremen as well as near Canterbury.

“Location wise, the region is amazingly rich. You have diverse city areas as well as the countryside just around the corner,” says Tobias Alexander Seiffert, who co-produced “Summertime Blues” via Muenchner Filmwerkstatt.

Other recent recipients include Kaspar Heidelbach’s “Berlin ’36,” the fact-based story of about Jewish-German high-jump champion Gretel Bergmann, which rolls out Sept. 10.

The org is backing two other Venice screeners, albeit only with sales and distribution support — Alex Cox’s “Repo Chick” and Werner Herzog’s “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done,” both repped by David Lynch’s sales company Absurda. Ken Meyer of Hanover-based DEFILM exec produced the former and co-produced the latter.

Nordmedia is making sure to cover all its bases. While film is playing an increasingly important role in the region, Schaeffer says Nordmedia will also continue to focus on television “because TV production generates higher economic sustainability for the region.”

FESTS AT A GLANCE

Sept. 16-20
Oldenburg Intl. Film Festival
filmfest-oldenburg.de

Oct. 21-25
Osnabrueck Independent Film Festival
filmfest-osnabrueck.de

Nov. 10-15
Braunschweig Intl. Film Festival
filmfest-braunschweig.de

Nov. 19-22
Uup-and-Ccoming Intl. Film Festival Hannover
up-and-coming.de

Nov. 20-29
Festival of European Film
lumiere.de

Feb. 21-26
Sehpferdchen Kinderfilmfest in Hannover & Braunschweig
filmfest-sehpferdchen.de

May 12-16
Goettingen Intl. Ethnographic Film Festival
gieff.de

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