Checkpoint Charlie

It’s the Easter holiday here in Germany, so I finally had a day to sleep-in, relax, and get settled. Since the moment I stepped off the plane last week, I have been on-the-go non-stop, going from one meeting to another and, in some cases, one corner of Germany to another. Today is the first time I’ve actually felt "grounded," if you know what I mean. And best of all, my family is arriving tonight to join me for a week. I’m staying on Friedrichstrasse, sort of the Rodeo Drive of Berlin, and I if I lean just a bit this way and that, I can see Checkpoint Charlie and the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz from my balcony.

The pre-production experience for me on FAST TRACK has been exciting, familiar and in many ways, brand new. It’s my job as the writer & executive producer to relay my vision of the characters, the look, the sound, and the "feel" of the pilot (and subsequent series, if we are lucky) to all the people working on the show…from the production designer to the stunt drivers.  That’s always a challenge but it’s even harder here, where the culture,  language and ways of making TV shows are different. Not only that, our points-of-reference (other TV shows and movies, for instance) are different, too. It’s a new experience for all of us on the show, but I’m working with some incredibly bright and creative people. I think they are beginning to see the show the way I do. They are also enthusiastically embracing a different approach to film-making, a "hybrid" of the American & German producing methods that we’ve created (I’ll go into that another time…there’s probably enough material there for a book!). It’s very exciting for me and, from what I can feel talking to them and just walking down the halls of the production office, it is for them, too.

Yesterday I spent five hours with our German casting director, looking at dozens and dozens of showreels to pick the actors we’d like to come in next week for auditions. The clips on the reels are all in German, so I am having to judge the actors based on emotions, expression, body language, charisma etc. I have to judge  if they are conveying character  through every tool BUT language, since I can’t understand a word they are saying.  I have to guess the context & story of the scene and try to judge how good…or bad…a job the actors are doing (although the reels are all in German, the actors we are inviting in all speak English).  And, of course, their credits mean nothing to me, too….they are all German TV shows and movies. It was another new experience…one of many that I have each day, which is what makes this project so special for me.


3 thoughts on “Checkpoint Charlie”

  1. Not being able to understand German probably gives you a very unique take on the actors’ abilities. I wonder if your choices would be different if the reels were in English.

  2. Oh, okay… that’s what an executive producer does. I was sort of wonder about that.
    Just kidding Lee… Honestly, I do want to tell you how much reading your thoughts on the internal workings of this business means to me. One thing I know is that as important as a formal education is, one only really starts learning about any profession when they enter the real world of that profession. Thank you for sharing your insights into the real world of professional writing with all of us who aspire to, one day, join you in that profession.
    I look forward to all your future posts.


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