Studio Babelsberg may not be a film studio that you’re familiar with by name but if we were to mention some of the movies that have been made at Germany’s premiere film studio, it would become clear that it’s been an integral part of your film-watching experience. At time we visited the studio, George Clooney was there shooting his new movie Monuments Men and Ryan Reynolds was also on the premises shooting his latest film The Voices. It wasn’t until we got to watch the following reel that I truly realised the scale that Studio Babelsberg had in the world of filmmaking…. it was where Metropolis was made!
We got to visit Babelsberg which only last year celebrated it’s 100th anniversary to mark the release of Cloud Atlas (out today on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital download), it started to become clear as to why Directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski had chosen this studio to make their movie and why this is the fourth film they’ve shot here. The facilities there were state of the art and unlike Pinewood Shepperton, Babelsberg have an entire staff of production teams at their disposal.
Among the dozens of warehouses and structures on the site are carpenters, metal workers, prop storage, costume departments, model makers… literally everything and anything you could ever want to make a movie was available on-site and can be requested at a moments notice. While we were there, sets were being built for George Clooney’s Monuments Men, props being called for and all of this was being done before our very eyes. We also got to see some of the signs that had been created for Ryan Reynolds’ The Voices which had all been made to look very retro even though they were brand new off the production line.
As well as being a fully fledged workshop in the largest sense of the word, Babelsberg is also a Production company and is able to offer support to films that they choose to invest in giving them access to their studios at a discounted rate while getting a Producer credit on the titles and obviously taking their cut of the profit or one-off fee depending on the deal struck up on a film by film basis. The strange part is that for every movie made, a different Producing company has to be made for various reasons so keep your eyes peeled on the logos that appear at the beginning of the next film you see as if it has ‘Studio Babelsberg’ at the start of it, you know it was shot there. Saying that, Cloud Atlas was no one of those films but the movie was shot on the Studio Babelsberg stages and they also provided all the set construction for the movie.
As I mentioned earlier, the Studio has a vast collection of costumes with over 500 000 on the premises at any one time! Some of the costumes from movies that have shot here were on display for us to see including the outfit that Kate Winslet wore in The Reader, outfits from Inglorious Basterds, and those worn by the cast from Valkyrie including Tom Cruises’ outfit which you can see below.
The highlight of the day for me was visiting on the the backlots at the Babelsberg and then realising that one of my favourite movies of all time, The Pianist had shot here. It wasn’t until i walked onto the set (which had just finished shooting Geofrey Rush’s new movie The Book Thief) that i realised this is where much of the movie had taken place. Remember the infamous scene where the man in the wheelchair is thrown from a top story window, or where Adrien Brody’s character Wladyslaw Szpilman hides out for much of the film, or even where the battle between the resistance and the Nazis takes place? All of those scenes were shot right here. Similarly, this is the same street where the cinema was filmed for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastereds. It’s hard to imagine but in this is where the external cinema scenes were shot.
It really was a fascinating place to visit and thank you so much to Studio Babelsberg for being so accommodating.
Cloud Atlas hits UK DVD, Blu-ray and digital download shelves from today! Click here to buy your copy.