Berlin, Germany- A crowdfunding project, WOLF, is due to open its doors in December in the Neukölln neighbourhood, right in the heart of Berlin. Once building work is complete, the 360 square meter premises will be a cinema- café bar hosting workshops and events for local, international and prospective filmmakers. The project has received just over €46,000 from online contributors and other small investors but will it be a breath of fresh air for the neighbourhood?
Euroviews caught up with the founder and director of the project Verena von Stackelberg at the soon to be fully functioning WOLF headquarters:
So what inspired you to start this?
“Well I’ve felt for a long time there has been a disparity between the film makers and those who influence the distribution of a film, I wanted to make something where the filmmaker is in control from start to finish and can see their project flourish. We also want locals in the area to really feel part of something and get immersed in film culture, hence why we will be showing films every night as well as presenting opportunities for everyone to try their hand at directing and producing in our workshop sessions, this will be a fully interactive immersive project.”
It’s not just about getting people through the door?
“No, no, this is strong though I’ve been having for a while on the filmmaking business, to many people trying to get involved in the production when there job is marketing not creating. If we can get people involved in the creating process we can nurture them and train them to think like a filmmaker not a corporate producer, I want this to be a process of thought not just watching a film and thinking, well that was okay.”
How long has the project been in your sights?
“I’ve been thinking about it for a good six years now, the actual buying up the property process and establishing a brand has been on the go for three years, it’s an exciting but busy time, we hope to have our doors open in December, there’s still a lot of work to do.”
What are the crowd funders getting out of this though?
“Funders can get rewards such as cinema tickets, showing their 1 minute films in front of features (for when it’s open), screen printed hoodies, a link to a film to watch online, an oil painting of a wolf, memberships, stuff like that. Almost 700 people supported us.”
Will there be community projects?
“Yes, that’s my hope. We’ll get locals to pick the films they want screened and then they can get a feel for the real cinema experience. We’re also hoping young film-makers will come in and participate in the workshops we want to run and we can teach them a thing or two.”
So young film makers have the opportunity to flourish?
“Of course, we want this to be something a younger audience can get involved with, exhibition and production space is going to be made just for that purpose. They can chose the films they would like to show and we go through the booking and promotional process together. We really want to engage a younger audience, especially in this area of town, get them interested, involved and show them what filmmaking is all about.”
Why Neukölln, why Berlin?
“Well I live round the corner and can see the property from my window, so it seemed like a good fit. The area is also highly cosmopolitan in culture and business, so I think the project fits nicely in the neighbourhood;the other businesses are also highly keen on WOLF, even the pub across the street has opened up today just for us and is directing all funds made to this project.”
You’ve got a lot of room at your disposal, what will you be doing with it?
“Well we’ll have the bar area when you come in, that’s been specially designed and placed so no one gets in the way of socialising when going to the screening room, then we’ve got two digital screening rooms which can hold up to fifty plus persons each. Then we’ll have a third room for moving images. I want this to be a full circle experience, where people can really engage in filmmaking and see the development from start to finish.”
So it’s not just exclusively Berliners?
“Oh, no this will be highly community based but also very much about the international perspective, we want people coming from all over to contribute and get excited. We want this to be a long lasting project that will make its mark in Berlin and encourage youngsters to get into the swing of film making and producing.”
How will you make it long lasting and not just a short stint?
“Well, if we attract enough people via the films and promote a community base we hope it will stick in the minds of people. Also we will operate on-line heavily and my team have been spreading the word through colleagues, we’ve had a lot of support from former partners of mine.”
Are you not stepping on other businesses toes in the area?
“Neighbours funded us because they would like to have an extended living room and be surprised by a different kind of film programme. People like cultural challenges, we’re set ourselves a big and ambitious goal and I hope we won’t disappoint them.”
Do you count yourself lucky you got so much support?
I think we struck a chord for different people: film-makers, people working in other film related fields who wish for a social space, more openness, more independence and a new use of the digital tools we now have.
Why the name ‘Wolf’?
“It was catchy and it stuck…”
Well, you’re a busy lady, we’ll leave you to it!