Harlem Shake, my Kids and the Army of Norway

The Internet was just about to start, when I entered filmschool. It was 1995, and it took my schools commercial department about ten years to discover the power of the Net and to start teaching viral marketing as well as shooting for viral campaigns. – And even though the industry discovered the power of cross-media, it did take the other departments of my filmschool a little bit longer to understand.

Well, actually, still today I see emerging filmmakers trying to aim for Internet and Web series’, yes, I even shot myself some. I see TV stations try and reach out to the users…but…what shall I say:
No filmmakers out there in the Vlogo-Sphere.

In fact it’s my kids being the ones that keep me up to date. Grown up as “natives”, knowing how to browse the Net long before they could read or write, they consume next to cinema and VoD/DVD mainly content especially produced for the Internet. Being native German speakers, the boys even started watching American Youtubers long before they had English at school.

Y-Titty, 1.3 mio subscribers and 318 mio views as by today, are perhaps the most successful German Youtubers. They are known outside Germany/Switzerland and Austria mainly for their Goyte parody (there’s English subtitles, just you turn on the captions!).

Ok. Enough surfing. Back to my point. I mean: 1.3 mio subscribers! Any nationwide German newspaper can only dream of this! 318 mio views! For just about 200 videos! And Y-Titty is only group one of many. And there’s not only parodies. There’s Let’s Plays (commented computer games recorded whilst the makers are playing), there’s great and smart comedy, done by self-doubting clever artists (or is it unemployed middle-aged people!?) with a very amazing black humor like Dr. Allwissend, there are shameless promotions of course and companies wanting to jump on the band-wagon trying more or less successfully to play the viral game…


…there’s the unpredicted hypes, nobody would have ever thought of. The attention every marketing director and film school student is dreaming about. You all heard definitely about Gangnam Style. Well, that was yesterday and is oh so 2012!

What the world is on to now is the Harlem Shake.

There’s entire Youtube “Best Of” playlists, there are companies and unis doing it, there’s animated versions, Minecraft Harlem Shake and of course the first pretty funny anti-Harlem Shake videos by Harlem Shake haters.

The first type of Harlem Shake videos was uploaded on February the 2nd, 2013, by some teenagers. The little clips all over the Net are all done the same way and only about 30 seconds long. Today, February 22nd, not even three weeks later, it’s a hype with several major companies “Harlem Shaking” and the song Harlem Shake by US  DJ Baauer, that was no commercial success since its release in Summer 2012 and that the videos are based on, was sky-rocketed up to be the current Billboard Hot 100 as well as Dance/Electronic Songs number 1 hit in the US.

I’m such a big fan of the commons, and this is another example for them to work. The song has been released as a free download. and only when people took it and reused it – unauthorised – it became a commercial success.

The biggest success so far is with the Scandinavians. The best image improvement any army can make, the Norwegian Army gets it all for free from a 19-year-old soldier, Kenneth Håkonsen, who filmed and put online a Harlem Shake with his Norwegian Army squad. – Could not more armies be that way? Best during war times…it would force the world’s leaders to find other solutions than sending simply an army over…

Oh and in case you thought, only non-serious funny stuff can make it viral on the Internet, watch this here. Science! – Two quadrocopters capable of balancing, throwing and catching a pole by IDSC, ETH Zürich, Switzerland. Over 600.000 clicks in less than three days.


There’s More to the Picture. Than Meets the Eye.


On the road home.

Hey Hey, My My – (Into the Black) and the acoustic counterpart  My My, Hey Hey – (Out of the Blue).
By Neil Young.

* Other peeks and perks from my Israel Travel-Diary, Spring 2012, you can find here:  Israelis and Highway-Toilet-Blocks – a Yellow Story | In Jenin a Dip Dive to the Westbank | Survive Swimming in Eilat: A Pool Occupation | On the Way back to Tel Aviv: There’s more to the Picture than Meets the Eye | Scoff Gossip about Israeli Train Station AttendantsWith women through WonderlandThe Tailor’s Wife – Another Travel Diary is from India, Spring 2010. You can find its articles starting from here.


Somebody That I Used To Know: Five Musicians, One Guitar – Walk Off The Earth Cover Gotye

This is for Gil, she showed it to me. And when I heard it on the radio today, I did not have her number to text her and let her know. I only realized after skipping for a while through my cell phone book.
Not being able to use my phone to show my affection was probably a good thing: I was driving on the German highway, yep, no speed limits, and there was plenty of snow on the road…
I survived, I’m still thinking of you and I promise next time I’ll leave the fingers off the phone.

Enjoy these five guys on one guitar.

You’d like to see the original and compare the Gotye cover by Walk Off The Earth to other covers of the same song? Check this post.

Big in Japan

I love how Ane Brun comes with no images. And makes such a great new song from this.

I love how they came with images. And made this great song.

Don’t you love the the projections on faces, the animation doing make-up and de-making up and the oh so 80ies look?

Hula Hoop Girl: Ty Segall – So Alone

I’m in London…whilst reading the older article below and the newer article (as by now still to be written) above,  you can listen to this lovely song…

I’ll snuggle in a bit deeper in my warm London bed and enjoy looking outside in to the cold grey day.

Life is a bitch and than you die.

Often I’m asked, if I can still watch a movie like everybody watches a movie. Course I can. I started crying last Monday already during the commercials, but not coz they were so touching, only coz they were so bad: a boy with a kite, smiling, laughing…warning signs: ☠ landmines…than a blast out of frame, the kite remains – cut: party-poppers, confetti in the air: celebrating 40 years of terre des hommes / worldvision/unicef/projecthope/whatevergood cause, terrible ad. About 40% of the commercials were social-spots, none of them any good. That said: not that the other ads were any better… I had been left crying, waiting for the main feature to come:

Independent Cinema. First appearance of Katie Jarvis, cast from the street after fighting with her boyfriend at a train station, quit school, unemployed, gave birth to her daughter Lily Mae four days before her movie premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.  – British film Fish Tank.

Oh, now you should turn some music on, before you keep on reading. Find here Life is a Bitch. Final song of this film stuffed with music. Play it. Turn your speakers up loud!

“There’s a lot of life in a fish tank and it’s a small space” Andrea Arnold said in an interview during the Cannes festival, where she won the Jury Prize for this movie.

Telling the story of 15-year-old Mia, Fish Tank made it on to German cinema screens only last week. I was lucky enough to catch the subtitled version. Even though there is not much talking…the film speaks often through its stunning 1:1,33 images shot on Fuji stock by Robbie Ryan and through lots and lots of music and dancing. Feels so very real. In the end, I sat crying again. But not coz i was unbearable. Coz it was oh so wunderbar.

It is one of those movies, where you leave the cinema in a cloud, all sounds enhanced, music playing loud from houses, cars zooming past much louder and with more of a whooosh on nightly streets than they normally would. I cycled past a poster on my way home. Goldfrapp is playing in Muffathalle next Monday. Go and see.

Find here an interview with Michael Fassbender about playing alongside Katie Jarvis in Fish Tank and hear his view on Andrea Arnold shooting chronologically and not revealing the script to her actors.

Here Andrea Arnold in the Cannes 2009 press conference about writing and finding this story.

Very stunning review article about the film to be found here (English).

And  here a great interview with Andrea Arnold about images inspiring you in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on 23rd of September 2010 (German).

For those enjoying German dubbing you can find here what the German audience is tortured with.

Trailers for the audience out of Germany and those choosing the subtitled release in Germany:

Ah, and: Arnold’s next project will be an adaption of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This novel has been adapted amongst others by William Wyler in ’39 (nominated for the Academy Awards same year), 1920 in the UK, in the 90ies with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche and early this century in Japan. Looking forward seeing Arnold’s version of the wuthering wilderness.

Begin and End. – Fluffy Clouds by The Orb and Himmelfilm by Us

“Wha’ were skies like when you were young?” asks the man young Ricky Lee Jones.

“They went on forever – They – When I … We lived in Arizona, and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in ’em, and, uh… they were long… and clear and… there were lots of stars at night. And, uh, when it would rain, it would all turn – it – They were beautiful, the most beautiful skies as a matter of fact. Um, the sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire, and the clouds would catch the colours everywhere. That’s uh, neat ’cause I used to look at them all the time, when I was little. You don’t see that. You might still see them in the desert.”

she answers.

My sky looked so different, from this sky in Arizona, even in my memory. But it was the same sky, no?

I found this interview bit in a song by The Orb. At the time, I lived in an international student house. My oldest son was just born and I started to ask people about their childhood skies.

The song “Fluffy Clouds” samples not only Ricky Lee Jones voice, but as well Ennio Morricone’s and Steve Reich’s work. – The Orb collected. And so did we. – Living in Amsterdam meantime, carrying the childhood sky still under my heart, I had asked my friend and filmmaker Jiska Rickels, if she remembers her childhood sky and could imagine, to make a movie about it with me.

This is the trailer. The movie itself has been screening in the Benelux-Countries together with Wim Wender’s Land of Plenty in the cinemas. Now, it got shortlisted for an exhibition in the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2011.

Which made me deal with my memory again. And all what’s left from those fluffy clouds.

The letter above was the beginning, this here is the end. The end is sitting in an attic waiting for time to pass. What remains, is Himmelfilm and a song, by The Orb.

The Mess we’re in


Mess is a nautical term, if it is not used referring to what’s in your room or in your head.

We have it in German as well, the Mess… nautical as well as for measuring – leading in the last case to such funny Wortschöpfungen as Mess-Meister – which would refer to a master of measurement rather than a master of the chaos, would this term exist.

Today, I would refer to my head, when using the word discussed above.

The word mess. Not the word Mess-Meister. I would call the different ghosts and fairies mess causing, lurking lazy in the corners of my brain. My brain is a German one, so it is very square and has corners. Four at it’s minst.

Let me make a German order of this fluffy flirring flurryness mess and start, topic by topic, a neat list.

With A to begin with as you do in neat lists and C to come to a quick end, deal with the three the most nagging thoughts and spare you of the to many discourses, distractions and pranks those pranksters in my mind have come up with lately.


Leads us back to the headline and the song, you find playing the link above.

Katharina gave it to me yesterday. She is working as online publisher of the Filmschoolfest. And she was the one, who chose to put the picture from my “Find the Award” post online next to my cinematographers introduction, along with the line “The mess we are in”.

Lucky I am not a camera assistant. I thought, when I saw and read this first. But that was before I met her. After I met her, we had the loveliest conversation about life and living and she gave me this glorious song by P.J. Harvey with Thom Yorke, that made her initially put the note under my picture. I listened, I love it. – If you want it as a Chrissie present, buy it here, but no Thom Yorke in this version… I would have never got this recording without this lovely  note by Katharina.


I almost forgot, this is a list…so better be efficient

The other day I was in a lecture Claire Denis held about her latest film 35 Shots of Rum. I loved the film, an homage to Ozu, and its unpretentious way of how he shows people and their every day lives. And those lives rustle, rattle and clatter like a train trudging swooshing sometimes smoothly, sometimes loudly cracking, when changing tracks.

Beautiful pictures by Agnes Godard as usually, Claire Denis took as on a journey through her films and her thoughts and somehow we spoke a about physicality and intrusion and heart transplants and migrants and her film The Intruder and last  not least L’Origine du Monde by Gustave Courbet.

I remembered the painting instantly, as well as the day, when I saw it for the first time. And I remembered the impact it had. I remembered it as this large lush greatness, maybe 6×3 meters staring down at me and I remembered me, standing underneath looking up to it in the Musée d’Orsay. You will see my memory tricked me.

The painting is sized 46×55 cm. 

The strangest thought standing there in the cinema with Claire Denis, was the memory of a very strong memory, I had, when I stood there in the d’Orsay for the first time. A strong visual memory of picture. A photograph with a young couple with a baby in a pusher, I had seen about a year before. Red and white stripes, the little pusher and happy, the couple.


Guided Tour (Siyur Mudrach) by Benjamin Freidenberg is a bit like a memory of an event, that was dominated by a memory and is remembered wrongly. And a bit like shifting reality, you are running after trying to catch it like a soap-bubble. And a bit like Vom Beobachten des Beobachters der Beobachter (On the Observing of the Observer of the Observers – A Novel in 24 Sentences) by Swiss writer Dürrenmatt or Max Frisch‘s Stiller starting with the words: “I am not Stiller.” And not only a little bit, but a large bit wonderful.

An empty Jerusalem we observe in this – as acclaimed German Newspaper “Die Welt” writes in their online editionDokumentation. Wondering after a while, why and how this film can be a Dokumentation, according to “Die Welt” and our own minds, if the couple, the film is documenting in front of their wardrobe, maybe even in their bedroom, if this couple is a couple the narrator sees only from time to time and from the far, peeking through his apartments door in to the hallway.

Is it the Uli Seidel style setup, that makes us want to believe this film and its reality so much? Or is it the fact, we always believe movies and believe in movies, when we love them, even though we know the blood is not real. We do want to believe in to people who let us look deep in to their souls. Or what they let us know might be their souls.

The fog faints.

We hear a story, and hear the honest narrator telling us,  it is not true. Only to follow this very same narrator in to the next Gespinnst of wonderfully woven silky storylines and fairy tales of real life.

A bit like in Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, where people wake up from a dream, which is a dream of people having a dream in a dream.

Thank you for this dream.

A Campari Commercial not by Dylan Thomas and not Under Milk Woods


I am not sure, what makes me think of Dylan Thomas when posting this…

Maybe the alcohol? Maybe the fact, that I shot this one year ago and never got around to post this here or do anything with it? Or maybe the view out of the tiny roof window in the small closet, I am living in, that today offers a drab gloomy autumn sky looking as Welsh as I can imagine a sky to be?

The spot directed by Gil Levanon after an idea by producer Markus Brandmair can not be my Thomas-reminder, that’s  for sure. Even though I know, the Welsh man and his wonderful language have been used and abused by commercials quite a bit…

Well not by us.

Maybe it is just, that I must post soon something actually connected to Dylan Thomas