What are the best places for film in Berlin? We ask Film Production and Screen Acting students Gustavo De La Torre, Petya Atanasova, David Salman, Stevie Wilson and Masih Tajzai for their insider tips on filming locations and movie theatres.
Berlin and film go together like wurst and curry – or toast and avocado, if you prefer. Their long history goes all the way back to the beginnings of moving pictures, in fact, with the invention of the Bioscope camera and the first ever commercial short film screening in the late 19th century.
Through the art film of the ’20s, the comedies and propaganda of the World Wars, the love stories of the ’70s and ’80s, the post-Wall boom, and today’s thriving creative scene, there are few cities with such a colourful, snaking reel of movie heritage.
For our film and screen acting students, Berlin was a no-brainer. Overflowing with culture, creative expression and vibrant locations, it’s both the perfect place to make and experience films. To glean some of their insiders’ knowledge, we asked them what are their favourite places for film in Berlin.
“The Sony Center is by far the best place to watch any Hollywood movie. They have a beautiful ceiling with moving parts and lights, as well as restaurants and bars to go to afterwards. It’s like walking into another world. The Friedrichstadt-Palast is the best place to go see any live performance; its size and atmosphere are majestic. They have the best sound and lighting systems I have ever seen, capturing and maintaining your attention and curiosity from the minute you walk in.”
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“Making films, I have taken my best shots on Warschauer Straße. There you can catch the spirit of the city and the amazing view along the river. I also absolutely love Berlin’s beautiful rooftops.”
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“Berlin is like a huge, beautifully orchestrated film set – it has it all! There is the new and old, the inhabited and abandoned, the concrete and the under construction, the dangerous and safe. For me, I love to have balance. It’s all about letting my subject emerge and distinguish itself from the background and connecting the place and time with the character. There are lots of philosophical meanings and historical details if you look deep into each scene. Here are a few of my favourite locations.
I like to visit S-Bahnhof Friedrichstraße to write my futuristic scenes. It has the feeling of a protagonist searching for something, buying cheap fast food and going on his way. Warschauer Straße is very interesting for romantic scenes, as well as Rummelsburger See. And who can forget Glienicke Bridge from ‘Bridge of Spies?’
I love the challenge of working under the radar in very crowded tourist areas like Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz and the Sony Center. Historical places, like the remaining Berlin Wall and the many memorials, must always be respected. I recently paid my tribute and respect to the Holocaust Memorial and all the people who lost their lives by shooting a small sequence in my short movie ‘TIME’ (see a sneak peek here).
The Funkhaus has beautiful inside and outside sites, and parks like Mauerpark are great. For funny shots I recommend the big bench at Club der Visionäre – it’s huge!”
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“Let me give you my top ten filming locations. The Berliner Dom cathedral and Brandenburger Tor are my favourite historical settings – I love the latter especially for how it shows the unity of East and West Germany. Architecturally, it has to be the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus, which is a totally unique place to shoot, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, which looks even cooler at night. The Fernsehturm is also good for the ever-present crowd, and someday I would like to shoot from the top of it.
For views, the Bode Museum is great for filming as you can see the entire city plus the river, and there are also lots of restaurants and bars inside. There’s always a lot of interesting things going on at the Sony Center and all of the fancy and modern Potsdamer Platz area, including the Berlinale. Then there’s Oberbaumbrücke – every time I cross this bridge it makes me feel as if I’m in Disneyland – and of course Teufelsberg for an amazing sunset.
Finally, I have to mention the Funkhaus as I’m a real fan of my Catalyst spots. You can find amazing places to shoot and we have a river very close to the school too.”