„Das grüne Sofa“ („The green couch“) was the first movie that I directed, and worked on the script, but where the original idea came from somebody else. I met Julian Pfaff on the set of the German television series „Dr. Klein“. While we were working one day at lunch he told me about a script he worked on. He already kinda had an idea for a story but was just not happy with how it turned out. At the same time, he planned to submit the film as an application for a course of study as a Director of Photography at the Film Akademie in Baden-Württemberg. I liked the story, so he handed me his draft for me to take a look at it.
While my first reading I understood what he meant. The idea of the draft was good, but the characters seemed one-dimensional and the plot artificially induced. I wrote down a few suggestions and additional ideas and Julian liked them so much that he asked me to revise the script. In the coming weeks, I rewrote his scenes, deleted sequences and added new actions. I often agreed with Julian and we wrote the final version of the screenplay together.
Julian had been looking for a director for this project for quite a while and had met with many people but somehow he couldn’t find anyone who matched. One evening he asked me if I would like to direct the film. At this point, I was all fired up for the screenplay and immediately agreed.
From now on, I was very busy with this project. I cast the actors and talked a lot with Franziska Walbrühl, our set designer. As a location, we had opted for a high-rise block in the Stuttgart district of Asemwald. A resident provided us with her apartment for the shooting and the view from the 14th floor was incredible. Unfortunately, the apartment did not have much to do with our imagination. It seemed far too bright and inviting, so we decided to built-in walls and paint them in darker colors.
Franziska surpassed herself! When we entered the finished set on the first day of filming, Julian and I were speechless. Nothing was left from the cozy apartment. Instead, we were now in a set that matched our ideas and wishes perfectly and looked amazing.
„Das grüne Sofa“ was my first project with a proper production department. After the producer quit working on „Morgen kommt ein neuen Tag“ and I did not know any producers in my previous projects, I was absolutely thrilled that I didn’t have to produce a project myself this time. With Annalena Kümmel we even had a production coordinator who was on the set every day. We had met Annalena during the filming of „Dr. Klein „and even though she joined the project late, she was a great asset. She had set up a small office in the corner of our lounge in the foyer of the building we were shooting in and took care of everything from there. For example, the arrival and accommodation of the actors.
The cast for this film was easy and complicated at the same time. I wanted a strong, but also vulnerable and broken „Linda“. So I was immediately impressed by the casting tape by Helene Ruthmann, a theater actress from Hamburg. It was one of those moments when I realized once again why I love my job so much. It is the moment when my characters come to life!
As her father, I cast Claus Peter Seifert, who managed to only portray his role with looks and gestures. Only the role of „Michael“, Linda’s younger brother, turned out to be difficult to cast. Somehow, none of the actors coming in for casting could convince me and we were running out of time. The shoot approached and one of the leading roles was not yet cast. Then Julian brought the actor Florian Berwig into the conversation. He had worked with him a few years ago. I could imagine Florian visually very well in the role and after I had talked to him and saw him play I knew that we had found the right one. The three harmonized perfectly as a broken family and worked out wonderfully.
Since the topic of child abuse within a family is very controversial and in my opinion extremely important to talk about was particularly relevant to stage the mind and inside feelings of the characters. Pain and anger are the central emotions of the plot and Helene trusted me and portrayed them authentic.
As we were shooting the final scene, something happened that I had not experienced before on a set: Linda revealed to her dad all the emotions she had carried so long, crying with pain and rage. Helene played this so convincingly, so tangibly real, that I, too, started crying. It was just a few small tears, but at that moment I felt that this movie was working and that the audience in the cinema would be as touched as I was.
A few months later at the premiere, the last scene left the audience in silent. No one moved, no one said a thing. The entire room was completely silent an the people hardly dared to breathe. Everyone was shocked and touched by the emotions an actions they just saw. But then the applause started.
And that is exactly what I love about making movies: the opportunity to let the audience experience the emotions of the characters and to encourage them to face their fears!
Cast and Crew:
Linda – Helene Ruthmann
Michael – Florian Berwig
Helmut – Claus Peter Seifert
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Written and Directed by Emma Rosa Katharina Sauter
Producer – Julian Pfaff
Producer – Nadia Zimmermann
Producer – Ansgar Wörner
Producer – Till Schadeck
Production Manager – Annalena Kümmel
Location Manager – Naemi Tienes
Setrunner – Celine Schink
Setrunner – Tamara Ziebarth
Setrunner – Valentin Schneider
Director of Photography – Julian Pfaff
1st AC – Daniel Spülbeck
2nd AC – Louis Haas
Sound Engineer – Tim Heumesser
Gaffer – Zeno Legner
Beleuchter – Denis Indir
Electrician – Jan Robin Weiland
Electrician – Tin Olujic
Electrician – Sascha Muschke
Set Design – Franziska Wahlbrühl
Props – Kahtrin Uhlirsch
Set Constructer – Lukas Wind
Costume Design – Marie Kaiser
Make Up and Hair – Luca Braig
Photographer – Max Galys
Social Media – Anna Nolte
Making-Of – Matthias Wallot
We would like to thank our sponsors:
Cinegate GmbH, Stiftung Hänsel und Gretel, Jung von Matt/Neckar, Fruit Love, Köln as well as all of our supporters on StartNext!