Munich-based Neuesuper, one of the rising values on Germany’s ebullient new TV scene, is teaming with ARD Degeto to develop “Breitscheidplatz,” a drama-thriller that depicts the build-up to Berlin’s 2016 Christmas market truck attack which left 12 dead.
The series, however, will buck trends, presenting not a matter-of-fact rehashing of the events leading up to the attack, but rather a fictional interpretation of what might have happened, turning on two German policemen working at a time when Europe had suffered a blitz of attacks, attempting to prevent a similar outrage in Germany.
“One of the huge questions poised by the attack is how on earth it could have happened, how did the security forces come to make such mistakes?” said Simon Amberger, one of the producers for Neuesuper.
A six-part series commissioned for ARD Degeto by Carolin Haasis, “Breitscheidplatz” tries to deliver an answer. Picturing the daily work of the two policemen faced by a multitude of potential threats but without the resources to monitor them, the series depicts their job as a kind of almost impossible risk management, Amberger said.
A fictionalized version of how the outrage could have happened, seen through the eyes of the two police, rather than a factual retelling, “Breitscheidplatz” is advancing fast in development. It recalls “8 Days,” produced by Neuesuper for Sky in Germany, by taking a U.S. race-against-the-clock sub-genre in another direction – here the security forces don’t even know when the countdown will end – while questioning authorities’ capacity to stop the seemingly inevitable.
While decrying received wisdom about the efficacy of security forces, the series will establish a close empathy with their rank and file, said Amberger.
News of the latest edition to the company’s 2021-22 slate comes as Amazon Prime Video and Neuesuper have confirmed cast and crew details on “Hamburg Hustle” (“Luden”) which has entered production.
Set in the early ‘80s Hamburg St. Pauli red light district, the high-end six-part drama stars Aaron Hilmer (“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”), Klaus Barkowsky, Jeanette Hain (“Babylon Berlin”) and Lena Urzendowsky (“We Children from Bahnhof Zoo,” “How to Sell Drugs Online Fast”).
Further key cast takes in Noah Tinwa (“Wir sind jetzt”) and Henning Flüsloh (“Rookies”).
Bucking red light district clichés, traditional role models and the male gaze, Neuesuper said, the series depicts Hamburg as no grey and rainy northern city but as one of fun and excess, a city of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll as it emerged as the party and pop culture capital of Germany.
Hamburg also became home to a generation of misfits, said Neuesuper producer Rafael Parente. “Several of the series’ protagonists try to live a life in Hamburg that conservative post-WWII Germany wouldn’t allow them elsewhere,” he added. “I met a lot of people who told me St. Pauli was the only place where they thought they existed.”
But St.Pauli also hosted a large and dangerous criminal world. One major storyline charts the rise and fall of a pimp cartel and one of its leading lights whose life story Neuesuper purchased. “Extreme and anarchic,” Parente predicted, “Hamburg Hustle” is directed by Laura Lackmann (“Das Wichtigste im Leben”) and Stefan Lukacs (“Cops”).
“It was really important for us to not have this story just told from a male perspective. We’re going to also really focus on diverse characters and talk about the queer society that was really big in the Hamburg’s St. Pauli, and portray more complex female characters, not just women as femme fatales or naive victims,” Parente promised.
A third series on Neuesuper’s slate is a new version for German broadcast group RTL of the 1980s’ “Meister Eder und sein Pumuckl,” one of Germany’s most popular children’s series. The stories about its little, red-haired imp and his pranks still retain cult status today.
Beta Film and Neuesuper’s new version, “Neue Geschichten vom Pumuckl,” involves re-development of the Pumuckl character, finding a new voice talent and re-creating the legendary carpenter workshop set for which the series is known. “Pumuckl” will go into production in early 2022. “The challenge is to strike the right balance between maintaining key elements of a timeless family entertainment brand and carefully modernizing it. Those who were children back then and today’s children should be able to relate to the show and have fun watching it together,” said Neuesuper partner Korbinian Dufter.
One key modernization is the depiction of the role of women in society. Attached as director is Marcus H. Rosenmüller (“Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot,” “Trautmann”), who stands for “very warm-hearted storytelling,” Dufter added.
One series is big IP, another a big event known internationally, and ‘Hamburg Hustle’ is an original story,” Dufter commented. But Neuesuper’s new series also suggests several throughlines.
What unites the titles, said Dufter, is a “hand-tailored, handmade approach: The three of us as producers each closely guide projects from the very beginning to the end. No matter the scale of a project, this hand-tailored approach remains.”
Neuesuper is also aiming to bring on a new generation of writing talent, said Parente, pointing to Niklas Hoffmann and Peter Kocyla who form part of the writers’ room on “Hamburg Hustle.”
“There’s a new wave of creatives that have grown with us and are now moving on to ever bigger and bigger projects,” Parente said, pointing out, however, that the company also works with established creatives, such as Christian Schochow, Rosenmüller and Vivienne Hoppe.
The future could well see Neuesuper open up to more international creative collaborations, Parente added, noting that Stephen Schiff, an executive producer and writer on U.S. spy drama “The Americans,” has worked as a consultant on “Hamburg Hustle.”