1989: The Wall

As Ronald Reagan addresses the German people at the Berlin Wall in 1987, a chance encounter between an American photo-journalist and a young German mother will change both their lives. In the early 1960s as a member of the CIA’s notorious “Berlin Cowboys,” David Cooper witnessed The Wall go up. Now 25 years later, he finds himself back in the divided city, a reporter looking into rumors of Soviet missiles poised just beyond the Wall and aimed at the West. At the same time,he becomes involved with the woman and her family and the terrible secret that haunts their lives. This is the story of the world on edge, of a illusionless man and woman in search of redemption. Inspired by actual events, it is an attempt to reveal the human face of history.

It has been 25 years since the Wall’s collapse in November 1989.  Media coverage surrounding that anniversary served to maximize audience awareness of historical backdrop for our story.  Given that we are dealing with timeless themes — the resilience of the human spirit, loss of innocence, and redemption — the film’s poignancy and relevance will have a universal appeal.

Assuming a 33-day shooting schedule, principal photography will ideally take place in Germany with interiors at Studio Babelsberg and exteriors at various locations.  Alternatively, some scenes like those set in East Berlin may be shot in Romania or Bulgaria where existing locations can easily be made to double for the actual historical setting.  Given the need to accommodate individual schedules, we will need to remain flexible.  Every film worth making demands a passionate commitment from everyone involved.  The key is that we do it right.  In the end, all that really matters is what winds up on the screen.

Based on 3+ page per day average, our initial estimated Budget came in at approximately $14.5 million (USD) or € 13.4 million with $6.8million Above-the-Line and $7.7 million Below (or € 6.3 million and € 7.1 million respectively).  Once we are able to determine our locations, these figures will obviously need to be adjusted as we move forward to reflect specifics.  It is expected that our revised budget should come in around $10.5 million (USD) or € 9.7 million approx.

33 days in-country through the facilities of Studio Babelsberg with all prime exterior locations in Germany. Alternatively, it might also be possible to double Bulgaria for East Germany and shoot at Sofia’s Nu Boyana Film Studios.

Given the Budget, it will be necessary to identify investors and companies both in the US and Europe.  Considering the nature of the film, we will approach HBO as well as Senator Films, M-Power, K-5, Gilles-Mann FilmProduktion, and Beta and interested private investors.  We will also attempt to secure all state funding for which we qualify.

Given the demands of an English/German screenplay, our director should ideally be bilingual, possess a sensitivity for compelling visual storytelling, and have a personal vision that attracts quality actors with universal appeal. Possible candidates: Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa; Burning Bush, House of Cards); Lone Scherfig (An Education); Volker Schlondorf (The Tin Drum, Diplomatie); Suzanne Bier (Things We Lost in The Fire; Serena);as well as any one of the actors who also direct listed below. We hope to announce our director shortly.

DAVID COOPER  — American photojournalist (late 40s / early 50s)
Ideally, Cooper is Mark Ruffalo, Kevin Costner, Ed Harris, Guy Pearce, et al.   Others TBD.

PHILIP TRASK — American CIA operative; Cooper’s one time cohort.  Potential casting includes: Ed Norton, Sam Rockwell; Colm Feore, Chris Cooper, Michael Ironside; Toby Jones.

GEORGE GRABNER — West German editor of The World & Nation.  Potential casting includes: Alfred Molina; Richard Jenkins; Richard Kind; John Turturro; Alan Arkin, John Goodman.

ETTA FROEHLICH – German mother who escaped to the West (mid-30s).
Etta should be German or Austrian.  Ideally, Diane Kruger, Nina Hoss, Johanna Wokalek, or Katherine Moennig. Others TBD.

To establish a working relationship with a UK based Casting Agency (e.g., The Hubbards) as well as a German Casting Agency (Die Besetzer).  There are also two significant supporting roles (Trask and Grabner) that were written specifically to allow us to cast marquee actors with international reputations (e.g., think of Ed Norton as Trask or Albert Molina as Grabner).

This screenplay will require minimal VFX – TBD.

GARNER SIMMONS is represented by Larry Becsey (IPG) and attorney Wayne Alexander (Alexander, Lawrence, et. al).  Having received his undergraduate degree in English & Fine Arts from Colgate University, he took his Masters and his PhD in Cinema Studies from Northwestern University’s School of Communication.  Mr. Simmons is a member of the Writers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of Canada, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is published author and recognized authority on the life and work of the late film director Sam Peckinpah. For further details, please go to: www.garnersimmons.com

MICHAEL KRAUSE is a native of Cologne (Koln).  He has worked extensively in both German film and television and has done the German translation of the screenplay (see attached).