I have been writing non-fiction books, literary reviews and essays on history, politics and philosophy for newspapers and magazines since the late nineties. I had also started writing my first novel, the Nippon trilogy 'The Discovery of the East Pole' that was published in 2013. The first time I thought about screenwriting was in summer 2012 when I saw 'Two and a Half Men' on German TV. Over here, many don't like the lazy pervert Charlie Harper and this kind of lewd, snappy dialogues underlined by (only partly) canned applause. I loved it and I still do.
So, I wanted to come up with something similar in German. Looking out for a story idea, I found it in a group practice of psychotherapists that is stirred up by a difficult genius in this field. Together they treat most exotic, funny, scary and entertaining cases of psychopathology while diving through the subconscious of the bohemian Berlin. This is how '3 Shrinks + 1' was born, a procedural dramedy TV series that fits the slogan 'House, M.D., meets Californication'.
Yet, I learned that nobody here in Germany would ever produce such a sexy, dirty-talked and intellectually thrilling TV series. Maybe it would be different today, but this was the starting point for me to write in English and for the English speaking TV markets. I completed the first draft of the English pilot in Cyprus. Family, friends and film pros praised it as very funny, appropriately bawdy and intellectually tickling. Here some of my favorite places for writing on the beautiful island.
Early in 2015, I wrote my first feature movie length script in just six weeks. It was helpful to have the final entry date for the Nicholl Fellowships screenwriting contest as a deadline. I took the idea for a dystopian sci-fi novel about Japan that I wanted to write and turned it into a movie script. Even though I had no time left to get the script Nippon Park corrected by a copy-editor, it fared pretty well and garnered me some nice quotes from the script readers of the coverage service. In the meantime, I also got favorable coverage by the PAGE International, Austin and Slamdance film festivals, but most notably by the Blacklist.
George Hull, the concept artist to the Wachowski sisters' movie Cloud Atlas, kindly allowed me to use his work 'Neo-Seoul' to illustrate Nippon Park as this looks exactly how I imagined the future city of Busan in New China, today's South Korea, where an important chunk of the story takes place.
In summer 2012, I was in Hamburg at the party for the 70th birthday of my some-day-to-be mother in law. As my fiancee knows how much I dread such family gatherings, she promised me that I'll be in constant supply of red wine. After something like five bottles, a friend of the birthday child, and even ahead of her in age, started telling the story of how she experienced the invasion of the Dutch East Indies by the Japanese in 1942. Her father, a Swiss analytic chemist, was a leader of one of the destruction teams of Shell and thus in charge of blowing up the wells and refineries before the arrival of the Japanese invasion army.
This story was so breathtaking and thrilling that I remembered it the next day and I absolutely wanted to tell it in some way. It took me years to find out how to do this and the framework became continuously bigger over time. In the end, it became $even $isters, a TV period drama series on the first century under the rule of oil and on the biggest conspiracy in world history. I finished the series bible and the first draft of the pilot by September 2016 in Cyprus, again. In January 2017, I pitched the whole project at a Berlin Directors Meeting to some twenty mostly British and American directors. It was a home run. Today, this is by far my biggest and best developed project that has garnered me excellent credentials so far. It's ready to be sold and made.
This is a feature movie project, a period drama based on my novel, the Nippon trilogy 'The Discovery of the East Pole'. It's the true story of a German physician who in all his love for Japan (and his Japanese wife who became a courtesan just to be able to marry him) smuggles in 1826 the maps of the well hidden empire to the Netherlands. These maps serve more than twenty years later Commodore Perry for his disgraceful 'canon boat opening' of Japan in 1854.
Steven Spielberg knows this story and had ordered a screenplay based on it. Allegedly, he didn't like the script that was too much based on the cheesily turned love story between the physician and the courtesan. He dropped the project. My novel, meanwhile, centers on the all altering theft and smuggling of the maps. The script is not written yet, but next time in Cyprus, this will be on the agenda!