„We the people“ was shot in the winter of 2018/2019 as a University application film for Makito Kumazawa. He has applied for a course of study as a Director of Photography. But for the application, the film had to be a maximum of five 5 minutes long. Nothing we had done until then was short enough, so I decided to take the opportunity to implement an idea I had been thinking of for a long time.
I wanted to write about people fighting for their convictions and about how far they are willing to go for their ideals. So I came up with the following draft: A group of environmental activists are attacking corporations to draw attention to their environmentally harmful activities.
So far the main idea. Makito, who, like me, deals a lot with the topic of environmental protection, liked the idea and so I started to research. On a train ride from Kassel to Berlin, Makito showed me the documentation „If a Tree Falls“, which was supposed to greatly influence my writing process from now on. It’s about a group that is similar to my fictional characters, and it offered me realism in writing.
I was loving the draft and wrote the screenplay in just a few days. But when it was done, one thing was clear: this story can never be told in five minutes. So I started to reduce the plot, and after a while got some new good ideas, which I re-wrote in the script.
When the final screenplay version was done and we had found a suitable location with a barn near Kassel, I started the casting. I cast Yvonne Laros, Michael Gugel, Lea Fleck and Lukas Lüdeking who had all touched me with their amazing casting tapes for the lead roles and was confident to have a good basis for my production with such a great cast. Only one was missing. For the figure of „Marx“ I couldn’t find a suitable actor for quite a while. When, after weeks of casting I finally found the right actor I looked forward to the shoot in anticipation. Luckily we were able to convince the majority of the crew of „Morgen kommt ein neuer Tag“ for „We the people“ again and that I made me even more excited for the shooting.
Two days before shooting our bad luck started. Sometimes I wonder if the universe had something against the production of this film because what happened in the following days was more than the usual set chaos. But above all, we had major luck during the big disaster.
On the morning of the first day of onset rehearsals and preparation, the actor for the role of „Marx“ called me and canceled the part due to illness. So just 48 hours before shooting I was missing a lead actor. Immediately I called my second choice for the part and was overjoyed when I got his promise to travel directly to Kassel the next morning. When I called him again in the evening because of his arrival time, he told me he was unfortunately unable to come.
Now there were only 24 hours left before shooting started and I was again missing a leading actor. I immediately posted on Facebook and was absolutely thrilled when there was an actually suitable candidate among the spontaneous applicants. I called Max-Fabian Wolff-Jürgens directly and he told me that he was traveling with his family in a van through Germany, but could be there in time for shooting. He liked the script and in hindsight, I’m almost happy that it all went this way. Because despite all the chaos I had finally found a wonderful actor whose cast I never regretted a second.
We started shooting and it was wonderful to work with this crew again! Our new additions Luca Braig our Hair and Make-Ip stylist, Laura Dorn our costume designer, Mia Prahl our set designer and Valentin Schneider Makitos 1st AC immediately became a part of the crew. At this point, I just really want to thank this wonderful team again for absolutely everything they’ve done!
Although many things did not go according to plan, the crew maintained their good mood and helped wherever they could. This just isn’t self-evident and if one of you is reading this, I would like to thank you for everything again!
Nobody would ever have expected what happened on the second day of shooting. We shot a scene on the first floor of the barn when suddenly the ground under Makito and I broke through and we crashed together with a camera and tripods three meters lower on a wooden dresser. We quickly checked that the other is doing okay when the first team members ran down the stairs to us. My leg was trapped under a pile of debris so I could not move it, and Makitos head blows bleeding. The camera seemed to be still working which we were very happy about. Although both of us were fine and wanted to continue shooting straight away, the others convinced us to drive to the hospital and have us examined. So while we were being examined in the ER, the rest of the crew rebuilt the set so that the upper floor would not have to be entered again. Makito and I were both diagnosed with a concussion and advised to stay in bed for a few days. But we knew we had to continue shooting.
That same evening, we changed the schedule to catch up on lost time. We both did not tell anyone about the diagnosis. Or about Makito’s lingering backache and that I fell down the stairs several times the following days because I couldn’t see properly. We did not want to worry anyone and make a big deal out of our accident. That’s how it is when you’re burning for something. You’re ready to do anything for your dream, and if that means biting your teeth for a few days, you’re very willing to do that.
The next morning, Makito took me aside just before we wanted to start filming. He explained that there was a problem with the camera and so for the next three days we had to exchange the technology every single day. Somehow we seemed outraged by bad luck, but after we survived this fall so unscathed, we didn’t even have had a single thought about quitting.
With the help of our wonderful crew and thanks to the patience of our great actors, we managed to shoot great material. At the end of the shooting I was completely exhausted, but it was worth it and the results are incredible.
When I sat at our party on the final night of shooting I was just thankful for the wonderful people around me and proud of what we had achieved!
And: Makito got accepted into the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen in Munich! Congrats!
Cast and Crew:
Jeanne D’Arc – Yvonne Laros
Baader – Michael Gugel
Marx – Max-Fabian Wolff-Jürgens
Sophie Scholl – Lea Fleck
Watson – Lukas Lüdeking
Security guard – Moritz Schmidgall
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Written, Directed and produced by Emma Rosa Katharina Sauter
Location Manager – Tin Olujic
Director of Photography – Makito Kumazawa
1st AC – Valentin Schneider
Sound Engineer – Nils Eberhard
Gaffer – Jean-Pierre Weingart
Electrician – Alex Kiefer
Set Design – Mia Prahl
Propmaker – Marcel Mücke
Costume Design – Laura Dorn
Make-Up and Hair – Luca Braig
Stuntcoordinator – Moritz Schmidgall
Catering – Laura K. Schmidt
We would like to thank all of our sponsors:
Ludwig Kamera, Maierbros, Astera, Purvegan, Reformhaus Deutschland, Barnhouse, Oatly as well as the Melsunger Frischemarkt!