Hamburg is becoming increasingly important as a film location and clocks up 1,600 days of movie shoots per year. Alexandra Luetkens, a film commissioner with the Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig), said: “The port, Speicherstadt, Hafencity and Fischmarkt are the most sought-after locations,” adding, “Series often rely on a noticeable recognition value while other formats seek locations away from tourist attractions.” Places with a special, quirky atmosphere are often sought after.
The former Bille power station leads the list of the Top 5 quirky locations, according to Luetkens. Hamburg News took a look at the former industrial plant where the earliest buildings date back to 1899.
No. 1: Former Bille power station
This listed unit consists of eight buildings spread over 15,000 square metres. The complex forms the backdrop to movie scenes and TV productions, photo shoots, music, art and corporate events. The power station has vast cellars with a maze of pipes, breaches, differing ceiling levels, concrete blocks and all kinds of nooks and crannies. Old wooden staircases lead up to the rooftops that are ideal for wild pursuits across the buildings. Then there are huge atriums, halls and lofts where the paint is peeling off the walls and the damp has created bizarre patterns.
No. 2: Buss Ross Terminal
The second of the Top 5 quirkiest film locations is the Buss Ross Terminal, which handles mainly scrap, according to Luetkens. “We sailed past it with the Berlin-based producers of 'Hanna’ and those heaps of scrap surrounded by water really excited him,” Luetkens explained. The entire crew of the movie by the British director Joe Wright starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, all came to shoot in Hamburg. During a scene in the Buss Ross Terminal, “Hanna” played by Ronan, escapes over the mountains of scrap by jumping onto a passing barge.
No. 3 : ERGO building
The ERGO insurance company’s building in City Nord ranks third on the list, Luetkens says, as it exudes “the charm of the 1970s”. Such nostalgic architecture is rarely found. The Post-Pyramide, for instance, on Überseering, which was hailed in the 1970s as an architectural jewel, is about to be demolished. Til Schweiger’s “Tatort” especially, “the office scene with chief inspector Nick Tschiller was filmed in the ERGO building,” said Luetkens.
Platz 4: Silbersack pub
Silbersack pub is fourth on the list “as it one of the few remaining pubs in the port with a rock allure”, said Luetkens. Reeperbahn, Große Freiheit and Davidstrasse used to be popular film shoot locations. “However, the neighbourhood has changed, experimental catering companies have moved in and the strange and swanky pubs are dying out.” John le Carré, author of the bestseller, “A Most Wanted Man” made a small film appearance in Silbersack.
The 2014 movie was a stroke of luck, Luetkens noted. The 40-day shoot with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, William Dafoe and Nina Hoss was filmed in Wilhelmsburg, St. Georg, on the Landungsbrücken and in the port of Hamburg. Meanwhile, the lobby of the Atlantic Hotel features in a scene of the cult James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”. The team eventually found the St. Pauli flair, required for “A Most Wanted Man” in the cult tavern “Zur Ritze”.
No. 5: Boxing ring in Ritze
Luetkens said: “This location was the scene of many film shoots from 'Großstadtrevier’, 'Die Männer vom K3’ to the comedy ‘Der letzte Lude’”. Real red light figures used to frequent the Ritze and this might have been a factor, the film commissioner comments. And the famous pub on St. Pauli was often a real crime scene. In 1981, a pimp known as “Chinese Fritz” was shot dead there and in 2006, Stefan Hentschel, aka the “Godfather of St. Pauli”, hanged himself in the basement of the Ritze.
But Luetkens’ love of this location is personal: “I was a stage prop help on “Die Männer vom K3’ shoot. The boxing gym simply is a very special filming location.”