Cologne-based Augenschein Filmproduktion, producer of “7500,” which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is moving increasingly into English-language production while also branching out as a financing partner for international projects.
In a move reflecting those changes, the company has hired industry vet Rusta Mizani, currently head of business affairs at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin, as its new CFO. Mizani, a former producer and administrative director of regional funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, will assist Augenschein managing directors Jonas Katzenstein and Maximilian Leo in business development as the company moves into financing.
Augenschein is next re-teaming with “7500” director Patrick Vollrath and Glen Basner’s FilmNation, which handled international sales on the airplane thriller, on a Cold War drama set in 1961 Berlin during the building of the Berlin Wall.
The company is also partnering again with Los Angeles-based XYZ Films on an historical action pic set to shoot in Germany in 2020. The companies, along with Berlin-based Rise Pictures, are currently co-producing Joe Penna’s sci-fi drama “Stowaway,” starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette.
Augenschein is likewise producing German thesp Franka Potente’s directorial debut, “Home,” starring Kathy Bates and Jake McLaughlin, which follows an ex-con in California trying to find his place in society after 20 years in prison.
“We are very well-established in Germany and Europe and understand very well the funding system, we have good contacts to all the distributors, broadcasters and funding institutions, and now we have a good understanding of the U.S. system,” Katzenstein told Variety. “We are hoping to become a bridge between America and Europe, and the rest of the world.
“About 80% to 90% of our energy is going into English-language projects,” Katzenstein said, adding that the company has quite a number in development. Augenschein’s film projects range in budget from €5 million to €15 million ($5.5 million to $16.5 million).
“We don’t want to grow too fast,” he added. “We want to maintain our 10-person structure and not become a 50-person company. We make just two to three projects a year, that’s our logical limit.”
On the television front, Augenschein has boarded Israeli crime series “The Public,” which is currently in development.
In addition to its English-language works, Augenschein remains devoted to international “arthouse pearls,” Katzenstein stressed. The company maintains strong links to filmmakers with whom it has collaborated, such as Romanian helmer Calin Peter Netzer, whose recent films, “Child’s Pose” and “Ana, Mon Amour,” won Berlinale Golden and Silver Bears, respectively, and Singapore’s Boo Junfeng (“Apprentice”) and Chilean director Marcela Said (“Los Perros”), whose works screened in Cannes.
Augenschein also has a number of German-language projects in the works, including “Panikherz,” based on the bestselling autobiographical novel by Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre.