“She’s the boss,” says Jürgen.
“I’m the marketing director,” says Tau Tau.
It’s Sunday morning, it’s raining, it’s the last day of the Berlinale, and the two of them are sitting in a Potsdamer Platz cafe, reviewing the week. The European Film Market, the hollow deal-machine that churns out the stardust, packed up days ago, and the Berlinale has finally been surrendered to the Berliners.
It turns out that Open Wound has made a few deals. Jürgen’s “über movie” – a gender battle where the weapons are piano-wire, folding rulers, and whatever other things could plausibly be found in a cellar – has landed a possible contract with a sales agent, could soon be available on video-on-demand in China and is eyeing a spot at next year’s Sundance Festival, which isn’t bad for the first feature from a company founded a few weeks ago.
For Tau selling movies is pretty much the same as selling wood. As well as a columnist and an author of romantic novels “for young girls”, she also happens to be one of Germany’s top timber exporters to China. “It’s all about bluffing,” she says, enigmatically. “Keep quiet. Always let the buyer talk.” (When selling wood, it also helps to have a large bearded German who looks like a lumberjack nearby – and Jürgen once pretended to be a quality control manager at a Vietnamese timber fair.)
The only big difference is that movies need more marketing that wood – and this is the key to Chinese show business, according to Tau Tau: “We call it an eyeball economy.” In Germany, almost every film is state funded, which means marketing is the last thing anyone cares about.
But in China, you come up with a PR plan as soon as the treatment is finished, never mind the script. This is why, says Tau, it was good for her that none of the Berlinale competition entries featured a Chinese star. This meant that at least three Chinese journalists showed up at the Open Wound teaser trailer party on Wednesday night. “They want to know what a teen author is doing working with this big evil German guy,” says Tau, who looks over at Jürgen, sipping his cappuccino.
Meanwhile, Jürgen puts it the only way he knows how. “It’s a thriller, it’s part of the genre to make money. In fact, there is a dialogue in Open Wound about money. A very positive dialogue. It’s a poetic thing,” he says. “I want to share the fun.”
Next stop Cannes.