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Q & A with producer Daniel Scheimberg

Q: So when did you and Phillip start working together?

A: Originally Phillip and I had a garage band of sorts back in Colorado along with my brother called “Tiptoe and Son”. A few years later in 1998, we made our first short film called “Famous Last Chances”, which led to an aborted attempt at a feature film called “The Secret Life of No One” in 2000. And man, let me tell you this thing was epic and virtually un-filmable with no budget. For example, there was a Civil War re-enactors battle scene set at a nudist colony where the Rebs and the Yanks would be fighting their way through sunbathers and volleyball courts. Quite funny, but like I said, good luck trying to get cannons, period costumes and that much suntan lotion on a zero budget. We did a few more shorts after that and then I moved to Berlin.

Q: What were the origins of this project?

A: In 2005, I was living like I said in Berlin, working on various Babelsberg projects and Phillip was back home in Colorado mostly painting and writing and, truth be told, being a bit of a shut-in. Phillip sent me a bizarre short film script called “Mouth to Mouth” about a neo-Nazi and his junkie wife who were going through some sort of sex therapy as part of a custody battle with the German state. The idea was for me to direct it. I shopped it around for about two years with no luck.

Q: What were some of the responses at the time?

A: Well first they said, “Good luck finding actors able to pull this off.” The second thing they said was “Save up, because you’ll have to finance this yourself. As it’s unlikely the media board or any other German agency would be willing to cough up for this thing.” And you don’t want to know what the third thing was.

Q: So where was the breakthrough?

A: In 2007, I went back to America for a wedding and Phillip thought it would be an interesting idea to film a brief introduction to the film by a fictional screenwriter named “Doug Blankenship” that he himself played. Strangely enough when I got back to Germany and started showing this intro around to a few of my friends in the industry. They were saying, “That’s your story right there… that guy.” So at that point I knew we might be dealing with a feature film and I needed to bring Phil over to act, direct and write the thing.

Q: So then what happened?

A: So cut to 2 years later, after raising the money and dealing with Phillip’s passport issues etc… I brought Phillip over in June, 2009.

Q: So had he completed the script of the film at that point?

A: Actually, no. Phillip kind of wanted to see what was available in Germany since we had such a limited budget. He saw the scripting of the rest of the film as a “process of discovery” So yeah, as you can imagine, I was sweating bullets.

Q: So what was the spur for getting the other half of the film written?

A: I think for Phillip it was his initial meeting and eventual friendship with Marilena Netzker. She now plays Sophie in our film. She was originally cast for Sabine, but later deemed too young for the role. I think Phillip found that her energy, talent and presence was indispensable to us. And the rest of the film somehow fell into place.

Q: Well, Mr. Scheimberg, the phrase “fell into place” seems to be causing a lot of spiking on the polygraph machine you’ve been hooked up to throughout this interview. Can you elaborate?

A: Okay, you got me… “fell into place” may not be an accurate description of the making of this film. It was a struggle. Basically our budget was gone after the first couple weeks. I’m thinking I could have bought myself a car or gone to Italy. But instead I’m worried whether we have enough fake blood and if we can convince the actors that the same fake blood is edible and also counts as catering. By week three, we were collecting bottles and selling our actual blood. But through the help of many friends and family we’ve managed to somehow survive over what turned out to be a two year production process. That's a lot of bottles and a lot of blood. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention some of these people… an amazing circle of friends… Thorsten Fleisch, my producing partner who lent us his camera and did a lot of the translation as well. Dennis Helm, our DP, who saw the script at an early stage, and said he absolutely had to shoot this. As well as the folks at Weltfilm, who kept us going through the post-production. Despite all the hardships, I think we ended up with a really fascinating and one-of-a-kind film.

Q: Would you do it all over again?

A: Hmmm…yes?

(Mr. Scheimberg takes a quick glance at the polygraph machine . Fade to black.)

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