Sorry for my absence this last week, resulting in the lack of a weekly round-up. On Friday I set off for a short weekend with CraMERRY and Suzy in Hamburg. We had lots of fun, and Suzy already posted pictures and a summary of our meet on her blog. I have nothing to add to that – it was great, a welcome change of scenery away from it all – and since my Macbook refuses to recognise my card reader, I can’t even add post any pictorial evidence of the trip here.
However, after I said good-bye to CraMERRY and Suzy, I travelled on to Berlin. For no other reason than cheaper flights back to Ireland from Berlin. And the opportunity to visit my RLRA friend D___, as well as spending time in the German capital, which has fast become my favourite German city
not counting my home town of Bremen which will forever remain at the top of my list. To justify the three-day absence to myself, my bosses, my family and my friend, I had also scheduled a few business meetings in Berlin. Enough to merit a longer stay, but not too many to seriously impact my free time *hehe*. So besides meeting my public relations contacts, I had lots of time to wander around Berlin, tick off a few shopping requirements, and simply enjoy being there.
The first couple of days, I was not specifically tracking Berlin Station in the city, but time and again I came across locations that I remembered seeing in the show. What both the makers of the show and the actors emphasised, namely that the production had made a point of filming the show predominantly at original locations rather than in studios, became pretty clear as I kept bumping into recognisable locations from the show. I pulled out my iPhone and documented them as I went along.
On the way to my first business meeting in Leipziger Straße, I exited the S-Bahn on Potsdamer Platz. Instantly recognisable, albeit taken from a different vantage point, in my case.
Whenever I am travelling, I make a point of getting at least one photo exhibition into my schedule. This time, an exhibition on record cover art caught my eye. It was organised by C/O Berlin in the Amerikahaus just opposite Bahnhof Zoo. C/O is a charitable foundation which operates exhibition spaces and organises a lively cultural programme in the sphere of photography and visual arts. The cover art exhibition was not quite as good as I hoped, but it had this little gem in store for me:
A nice discovery, incidentally. I suggest you put this on as a soundtrack to this post.
Anyhow, it was only once I was sitting in the C/O’s rather nice café that I suddenly thought things were looking familiar. A long row of windows with a table along the whole length. Amerikahaus? Suddenly rang a bell. To be on the safe side, I quickly took a couple of surreptitious photos outside in case my hunch proved true. It did. (You can click on the images in order to open a larger, swipeable version of the gallery!)
Not least since I had been travelling in New Zealand, I knew that there are worse ways of exploring a city or country, than tracking the locations of a film you have enjoyed seeing. I am under no illusion that what you get to see, will either demystify the film in question, or will be so small and often insignificant, that non-fans wonder why you are making an effort at all. But here is the thing: Location sightseeing often takes you into parts of a town that you would otherwise have ignored. Along the way you get to see interesting places you would never have noticed. Just because you are following in the footsteps of Daniel Miller, so to speak. It is a fabulous way to pass the time when you have no other plans or when you don’t know where to go.
And there is no better companion when it comes to touring the Berlin Station locations, than our fellow fan MatildRAs. Last year, MatildRAs agreed to meet me twice, and each time she had a tour organised in her head, to take me on. This time, our third meeting, was no different. Or even better – she came with various tour options for me to choose from. Blasphemously I opted for a tour that took us to a non-Daniel place – just because I wanted to have a look at Karl-Marx-Allee, a 1950s boulevard built by the East German regime as a prestige object.
Along the way, we went through Alexanderplatz S-Bahn station – those turquoise tiles are ubiquitous in the Berlin underground, but you can see the station sign in the screen cap:
On Karl-Marx-Allee I had an irrepressible urge for food. After a substantial breakfast in the quirky Café Sibylle, we wandered towards Alexanderplatz where MatildRAs disclosed a sneaky plan. The Berliner Zeitung high-rise is just on the edge of the square, and MatildRAs suggested we simply go in and take the lift up to the top for a view across Berlin. No one stopped us, so up we went.
Incidentally, Berliner Zeitung has since moved out of the building even though the newspaper is still on the lift buttons. But we sneaked a peek around the corner on the 14th (?) floor and peered into the old editorial offices. The view from up there was restricted by opaque windows that only opened a small crack.
We managed to make out the roof top of Joker’s company building where Daniel unsuccessfully tries to establish a computer link to the company server. It’s the modern building with the dark windows in the centre of my picture below.
Just a few paces up from Berliner Zeitung is the Lutheran cemetery where Daniel picks up the mobile phone with which he contacts his boss Gemma Moore. cemeteries are always interesting to visit. We walked in Daniel’s footsteps… (The tombstone does not exist, btw!)
It was getting late and I had a plane to catch, but the last place on MatildRAs’ itinerary for me was just too good to miss. We jumped on the tram and S-Bahn to Wedding, to sniff out Daniel’s abode. In the end we came across it because we opted to take a stroll along the river Panke – which came out right beside the disused factory building that Daniel made his sparse home in. We walked around a few corners and I took a number of photos until we figured out where the set must have been, but the four characteristically long windows were the clue…
In photo #3 above, Daniel’s flat is on the third floor (fourth, if you are speaking American English), the two windows on the left. In the last picture you can see the flat from the side, with two characteristic small windows and a blocked up larger window in the middle. You can very clearly see the arrangement in the following screen cap from the show.
Seriously, people, you were meant to look at the window arrangement, not the incidentally captured body that is crossing through the view!!! Here’s some more Daniel and the view from his windows.
Finally, I concluded that the roof top scenes were not filmed exactly on top of Daniel’s flat but on an adjacent roof which is not visible in my pictures. For completeness’ sake, I am including the pictures from the recently surfaced Berlin Station Style Guide.
The whole complex looked like a fabulous location, btw, and it is a typical example of the Berlin courtyards which have living quarters towards the front and several courtyards behind for storage, factories, workshops etc. The original advertisements were still visible in the covered gateway from the street.
Having tracked all these locations, I really have to hand it to Berlin Station’s production design team. They found fantastic locations which are – surprisingly – centrally located and pretty close to each other. Moreover, they look very “Berlin” to me, authentic, normal, realistic. They were places that are *real* – used by the people/institutions that the show is depicting in their context. And they are interesting in their own right, whether it is a busy central square such as Potsdamer Platz, a high-rise with a view, a quiet cemetery in the center of the bustling city, or a cool loft apartment in a funky part of town. You could do worse than to trace the various locations on a tour of the city, even as a local. Speaking of which, without the help of local MatildRAs I would not have spotted many of these locations. A big thank you to her for entertaining and educating me on Berlin topography. Our meetings have almost become a tradition at this point, and I am already looking for reasons why I need to travel to Berlin again…
With season 2 due to shoot in late spring, I am already curious what the producers and location scouts have in store for us. First of all, it will be brilliant to see Berlin in spring/early summer. So far, due to the filming schedule of BS season 1 set in the middle of winter, Berlin has looked rather grey and depressing. Yet, in the summer, Germany actually gets really hot and sunny – a fact that a lot of foreigners are not aware of. I have had really hot summer days in Berlin in the past, with temperatures of up to 30°C (86°F). Life happens on the street – with vendors, cafés and people busy outside, the trees in bloom and the metropolis buzzing. Secondly, there is so many more interesting places in Berlin to use for covert operations and action-laden drama. WW2 bunkers, idyllic lakes, reclaimed land, busy markets and so forth. And mostly, I am really hoping for Richard to experience Berlin in nicer weather when the city really looks much less depressing and muted than it does under grey winter skies.
Lastly, if you have enjoyed this and would like to see more, here is a suggestion. If you are on Twitter, you may already follow the German RA board account. They are doing much better what I have attempted here – they have tracked many (all?) locations and they pair the images from Berlin Station with their own location shots. If you are not following them yet, you really should. Here is a link to their Berlin Station location posts which you can also find under the hashtag #DanielInBerlin.