International Film Impact Honoree: Bavaria Film Group

Bavaria Studios, the heart of media giant Bavaria Film Group and a key fixture in Germany’s film and television industry, is eager to open its newly modernized soundstages to international productions.

In the past two years the group has invested nearly $40 million in renovations and technical upgrades at the studio complex, modernizing the facility’s 10 soundstages that measure between 50 square meters (538.2 sq. ft.) and 32,829.9 sq. ft.

BFG is also looking to expand studio capacity with the construction of an additional large-size soundstage dedicated to feature film production. The proposed $13 million, multifunctional soundstage would measure some 26,909.7 sq. ft., offer greater height than existing stages and provide state-of-the-art technical facilities.

The facility has become Germany’s first major studio to go completely green, BFG co-managing director Achim Rohnke notes with pride.

In addition, the group has been instrumental in creating more financing opportunities for international projects, including a new state incentive for foreign productions as well as enabling easy access to equity financing.

Bavaria Studios offers a one-stop shop for third party and foreign productions that shoot at the facility that includes the services of partner companies such as post giant CinePostproduction and visual effects group ScanlineVFX, both headquartered on the Bavaria lot.

Bernard Rose’s “The Devil’s Violinist,” featuring cellist David Garrett as 19th century Italian virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini, recently shot in Bavaria Studios’ immense Soundstage 12, bringing 1830s London to life with cobblestoned streets, Paganini’s lavish two-story townhouse and the Royal Opera House.

“It’s been a great experience, the whole package, the quality of the production design and set construction, and especially the work of (production designer) Christoph Kanter,” says “Paganini” producer Gabriela Bacher of Berlin-based Summerstorm Entertainment.

“It’s the whole infrastructure: We have our lighting and camera equipment from them, we’re doing the post production at CinePostproduction and Scanline is doing our visual effects. So far, I can only say it’s been a great experience.”

CinePostproduction and Scanline have become a major selling point for BFG’s services, and the relationship has in turn strengthened the partners.

“Scanline would not have been possible without Bavaria helping us in the early beginning,” says Scanline managing director Ismat Zaidi.

Scanline has worked on a number of recent BFG productions, including Leander Haussmann’s 1930s Moscow-set comedy “Hotel Lux” and Alexander Mindadze’s Chernobyl disaster drama “Innocent Saturday.”

Likewise, BFG is one of CinePostproduction’s most important clients for both inhouse and third-party feature film productions, says Sebastian Gassner, CinePostproduction’s Munich branch manager. The post-production group collaborates on a large number of BFG’s TV productions as well as film restorations.

“We’re literally very close to each other so it’s perfect for them as customers to have the full range of post-production services right next door.”

CinePostproduction just finished the first trailer for Constantin Film’s upcoming CGI-animated “Tarzan,” directed by Reinhard Klooss.

“We’re very proud and grateful to be part of this project,” says Gassner. “It’s very unique — they had one of the largest motion-capture sets here at Bavaria Studios where they captured all of the apes movements. We will do the stereo 3D post-production. We also housed the render farm that provides the calculating power for the animation studio, which is Ambient Entertainment in Hannover. It’s not a Bavaria Film project, but it’s a project that is very important for us and for the studio.”

Rohnke says Bavaria is eager to host outside productions. Alexandre Coffre recently shot key scenes of his new French comedy “Eyjafjallojokull” in Bavaria’s state-of-the-art airplane set. The pic stars Dany Boon and Valerie Bonneton as a couple traveling to their daughter’s wedding in Athens whose flight is forced to land in Munich due to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano.

Likewise, the studio built a facade of Berlin’s legendary Hotel Adlon for Uli Edel’s upcoming ZDF miniseries that chronicles the tumultuous history of the legendary establishment.

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