Born in Switzerland, Florian Froschmayer has grown a reputation as one of the most prolific and distinguished TV directors in Germany.
Froschmayer, who emigrated to Berlin 2004, has made over 50 series productions and 15 feature films, including the 2015 TV film Tatort: Ihr Werdet Gerichtet which drew close to 9 million viewers.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Froschmayer to talk about his upcoming episodes of the thriller Zürich-Krimis, working with actor Christian Kohlund, the landscape of German TV, and much more.
Q: What can we expect from your episodes of ‘Zürich-Krimis’ in 2020?
A: Thrilling and emotional entertainment. Two different films – one is set within a struggling foster family, and the other one is about a young couple accidentally getting involved in drug trafficking.
Q: What interested about stepping into this series and working on a well-established character such as Thomas Borchert?
A: First of all, the actor Christian Kohlund. I worked with him a few years ago, and it was an excellent experience for me. He is one of the best and most renowned actors of his generation in Germany. He brings a lot into the character of Thomas Borchert.
The second reason was to be able to work on both scripts. I like to just direct, but sometimes it is a great pleasure to have more involvement in the story development process. And last but not least, it was a pleasure to do two films that are set in my hometown of Zurich. Most of the principal shooting took place in Prague, but I especially enjoyed the exterior shoot in Zurich. I have not worked in Zurich for 20 years, so those couple of days were an extreme pleasure for me.
Q: As you say, you’ve known Christian Kohlund for several years. How did that familiarity help when working together on this project?
A: I worked with him on a drama which was set in Vienna. Us both being from Switzerland gives us a special kind of bond. We both grew up in Switzerland and moved on to Germany very early on in our careers. So there are a lot of similarities.
Christian is one of those great actors who are very well prepared, know the script very well and are always looking to go deeper and find more! He is very constructive and just a great partner! Actors like Christian are every director’s dream.
Q: What did you want to bring to the visual style of ‘Zürich-Krimis’?
A: The stories surrounding Thomas Borchert are all very honestly told. So I wanted the visuality supporting that honesty. I did not wish to over stylise it, I wanted to be close to the characters, and I wanted my hometown to look beautiful.
I had, for the second time, the great fortune to have Joerg Widmer as my DOP. During our shoot, Joerg had the premiere of his film, A Hidden Life, by Terrance Malick. To be able to work with Joerg is one of the significant privileges of my career.
Q: Next year, you will be supporting a photo exhibition, named “photoBERLIN”, as curator. You will invite 10 renowned film directors to show their favourite photographs which were taken on their own films sets. Can you tell us more about the exhibition and what you hope to achieve?
A: We, as directors, have a unique experience during our period of shooting. We are very close to the actors, very close to all the technical stuff. We are very close when the magic happens. I take a lot of photos during a shoot, and I am excited that the other film directors will also share their unique and magical moments from their shoots with the visitors of the exhibition.
Q: What is the current landscape of German TV? How would you like to change it?
A: Distribution is changing. The TV world as we knew it is not the same anymore. Even the older audience is switching to VOD! So the content is changing as well. I think the networks, the producers, and the writers need to adapt fast! Especially my generation, which still grew up with a classical week-to-week format or stand-alone films, is facing an exciting time. I can’t wait to dive into the stories that can be told deeper and more extreme.
Q: You are one of the most prolific and successful directors in Germany. What do you look for in the projects you select? What satisfies you creatively?
A: I always try in my next projects to do a different genre. I like to do thrillers as much as I like to do comedies. I guess for networks and producers it is not always easy to put me into a corner.
I think my specialty is that I have a very versatile body of work, that after 20 years I’m still curious and still try to find new approaches in my work, in stories and writing as well as in the technical aspect of my job. The business still has so much to discover on so many levels and fields.
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
A: I want to keep working continuously. I want to do more international projects and I would like to write more. Together with an author from Los Angeles, I developed a series for which we are currently looking for a suitable production partner. The same applies to a feature film that I developed together with a German author.
Title image by FF
Florian Froschmayer’s ‘Tatort: Ihr Werdet Gerichtet’ will be repeated on the German channel Das Erste this November 22th at 10pm.