Walker + Worm Founders Talk Arthouse Success, Toronto Pic ‘The Garden’

Munich-based Walker + Worm Film has cranked out a slew of critically acclaimed productions in recent years, including Sonja Kroener’s feature debut, “The Garden,” which will make its international premiere in Toronto’s Discovery section, Philipp Leinemann’s police actioner “The Kings Surrender” and Frauke Finsterwalder’s drama “Finsterworld.” Established in 2008 by Tobias Walker and Philipp Worm, the company, which has produced more than 30 features, docs and commercials, is now moving into international productions. The founding pair spoke to Variety about their upcoming productions, which include Leinemann’s “Das dritte Sterben,” about a German intelligence agent (Ronald Zehrfeld) whose life spins out of control following a terrorist attack.

How did both of you come together to establish Walker + Worm Film?

Tobias Walker: We started working together when producing our first short film at the University of Television and Film Munich and haven’t stopped since. When we founded Walker + Worm Film in 2008, we’d already collaborated on numerous projects and knew that we worked together well.

What was your vision for the company when you first launched it?

Walker: Our aim was to put the unique vision of the filmmakers we collaborate with center stage during production. It’s their vision for the finished film that drives every decision we make.

How would you describe the types of films you produce?

Philipp Worm: So far, we’ve mostly produced films best described as arthouse. We’re open to all types of films from all genres, really, as long as the creators [many of the people we work with are both writers and directors] have that strong and unique vision for the project. As long as that voice is there, we’re game!

The Garden” just won the two top German Cinema New Talent Awards in Munich for you and director Sonja Kroener. It’s the latest success after a number of big award winners, including “The Kings Surrender,” “Finsterworld” and “Picco.” What’s the secret formula?

Walker: I think there’s a certain authenticity to our films that draws audiences in. They’re not trying to imitate other films or trying to follow the American example. They’re firmly rooted in a particular place and time. Also, we’re not going after the lowest common denominator by trying to guess what the audience might like. Nothing gets smoothed over.

How do you go about deciding what projects you will produce?

Worm: Both of us have to be drawn to a project for us to pursue it. Sometimes one of us is a bit more in love with a particular project than the other, but both of us have to be convinced by the project’s viability. There’s no grand strategy though. Basically, it’s just us reacting to a particular project [or not], just like an audience might. A lot of it has to do with our personal tastes and preferences.

What kind of relationship do you have with the directors you regularly collaborate, like Frauke Finsterwalder, Philipp Leinemann and Philip Koch? Is it an exclusive relationship?

Worm: Somewhat unusually maybe, we have a very close relationship to most of the directors we work with. Most are close personal friends with which we’ve been collaborating since film school [like Finsterwalder, Leinemann and Koch]. That level of trust allows for a kind of shorthand in communicating with each other that’s incredibly beneficial when trying to flesh out a project’s unique vision. It’s not necessarily an exclusive relationship, but we certainly hope that we’re the first port of call for our director’s passion projects!

What are some of your upcoming projects?

Walker: We’re about to start filming “Luck Is for Wimps,” which is our first collaboration with director Anca Miruna Lazarescu. Other upcoming projects are Philip Koch’s “Thalassa” [a film without sound] and a reinterpretation of Stefan Zweig’s [1941 novella] “Schachnovelle” [The Royal Game].

Are you also involved in international co-productions?

Worm: Yes, that’s an area we’re slowly growing into. “The Royal Game” will be an international co-production and we’re considering getting involved in English-language films.

More Film

  • Tom Cruise Drops First Trailer 'Top

    Tom Cruise Drops First Trailer for 'Top Gun: Maverick' at Comic-Con (Watch)

    Tom Cruise made a surprise appearance at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday to hype the forthcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” and receive mass adoration from Hall H. “I felt it was my responsibility to deliver for you,” Cruise told the crowd, tugging local heartstrings by reminiscing on the original “Top Gun” shoot in Downtown San Diego. [...]

  • Tribeca Film Institute

    Tribeca Film Institute, Pond5 Announce Latest Indie Film Grantees (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and Pond5 have once again teamed up to offer microgrants to indie filmmakers and artists. The grants, which go as high as $7,500, are intended to help storytellers during “in-between” phases of their projects, such as research, festival travel or community screenings. They’re the kind of unexpected costs that can lead [...]

  • On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los

    On-Location Filming Slides 3.9% in Los Angeles in Second Quarter

    Held down by a lack of soundstage space, total on-location filming in greater Los Angeles declined 3.9% in the second quarter to 8,632 shoot days, permitting agency FilmLA reported Thursday. “Although our latest report reveals a decline in filming on location, local production facilities tell us that they are operating at capacity,” said FilmLA president [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    U.S. Box Office, Movie Admissions, Ticket Price Fall in Second Quarter

    U.S. movie admissions slid 2.5% in the second quarter of 2019 to 347.8 million, with box office receipts declining 3.8% to $3.22 billion on the heels of a record-setting year, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) reported Thursday. The overall ticket price for the quarter slipped 1.3%, or 12 cents, to $9.26, compared to [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Will Definitely Be R-Rated, Tim Miller Reveals at Comic-Con

    “Terminator: Dark Fate” is not just a reboot of a beloved franchise, it’s a return to hardcore form that will receive an R rating from the MPAA. Announced at San Diego Comic Con’s opening Hall H panel on Thursday, the move is a departure from the PG-13 status of recent reboot attempts like “Terminator: Genisys” [...]

  • In Search

    Rushlake Takes World Rights for Two Acclaimed African Docs (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Cologne-based Rushlake Media has acquired world sales rights for “The Sound of Masks,” by Portuguese filmmaker Sara Gouveia, and “In Search,” by Kenyan director Beryl Magoko. The announcement was made Thursday at the Durban Intl. Film Festival, where both documentaries are screening. Rushlake’s Philipp Hoffmann says the two films will bolster the company’s growing slate [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content