Wednesday, 18 June 2008


« TIMING IST ALLES » (Tatjana Sassmann in Adrenalin,1996)

Hermann Joha has literally invented a genre, beyond all the limits of what have been done before with stunts and action sequences for movies and television. The name of his production company, action concept, is the signature of this new genre. Der Clown, one of his hits for television has become a major feature film directed by Sebastian Vigg.

Before being a full-time tv and movie producer you are a renowned Stunt artist and Stunt designer. How did you become involved in the world of stunts ?

Hermann Joha : After school, I trained as forwarding merchant. But this was far away from what I had in mind for creating my future. So at the age of 17, I decided to leave home and join the famous London « Hells Drivers » stuntmen. At that time I became popular as the youngest stuntman ever in Europe.

The name of your company, action concept, is very well chosen, as you have an approach of the action stunts so unique that in some countries like France, viewers talk about « action concept style ». What conception of action did you have in mind when you created this company ?

Hermann Joha : Since we provide all services of a film production within one company, we will soon refresh our logo. It will say : « action concept - More than entertainment ». The company name together with the slogan is going to express all we represent : a professional full service film production for action formats.

You were the Stunt coordinator of an excellent thriller called Adrenaline...

Hermann Joha : Thank you !

Adrenaline contains all the ingredients of what makes your style a reference today. Could you please tell us some words about how you devised the action sequences of this movie ?

Hermann Joha :
Both the story and the scenery inspired us to move one step forward and create new stunts. Til Schweiger was at that time and still is one of the most popular actors in Germany - he played the main character. There was also the colourful setting and the exciting backstage labyrinth of roller coasters in the leisure park Phantasialand where most of the shooting was realised.

As a movie spectator what are, in the history of Cinema, your favourite action sequences ?

Hermann Joha : One of my favourite sequences is in Ronin where there is a hide and seek sequence in real traffic, accompanied by on board cameras and several cameras on the sideway.

Who are the Stunt artists you admire most ?

Hermann Joha : I admire every member of our stunt crew - they give the best in for every sequence and belong to the most professional stuntmen and stuntwomen worldwide. But... being a professional helicopter pilot myself, my personal favourite is Rainer Wilke. He is an artist in the air and does spectacular stunts with a helicopter.

The Alarm für Cobra 11 series is probably the most popular action concept title. The show was first produced by another company. How did action concept jump from action sequences producer to producer of the series itself ?

Hermann Joha :
Yes, action concept started as a 2nd Unit production for Alarm für Cobra 11. At this time, again, I decided to move a step forward and offered RTL a full service production. They had enough faith in us - and placed the order !

Your company has created a totally new genre of tv series, without equivalent even in the US, with blockbuster-style action every week cleverly integrated in well built and well performed stories. How do the writers and the Stunt artists collaborate to succeed in this integration ?

Hermann Joha : When RTL mandated us with Alarm für Cobra 11, we expanded rapidly to a full-service film production, providing a professional content development team, which is responsible for the script and the storyboards and the stunt production. All our departments, the post production, VFX, SFX, etc... are situated in one building. That makes both cooperation and coordination much easier and effective.

You are a stunt artist and a producer but also a skilled director. Your work has given the opportunity to reveal numerous acting talents to a wide audience.

Hermann Joha : We have wonderful casting specialists who have the sensitivity to find the right « faces » and characters.

How do the actors prepare themselves to the action part of the job when necessary ?

Hermann Joha : If the actors are chosen, they have to go through a tough training at our stunt school - with our experienced stuntmen.

The Clown feature film has been waited with impatience by the fans of the Clown TV-series and those who enjoy the action concept style. The Clown seems to be a natural choice for a transition from the small to the big screen. How was it decided to put the show on hiatus to produce the feature film ?

Hermann Joha : Several years ago, it was decided to pause with Der Clown. Many fans asked for new episodes and we were thinking of producing a high-action TV-movie of Der Clown . When we discussed the topic, the idea took shape to experience further development - so we decided to set up a cinema movie.

Could you talk to us about the production, the casting and the shooting ?

Hermann Joha : We were very lucky that we could engage the original casting crew for the movie. Unfortunately, Diana Frank had to fulfil a committed for another project so that she was not available. With Götz Otto (Tomorrow never dies) and Xenia Seeberg (Lexx) we could convince two wonderful actors with international experience and credibility to participate in the project. We realised the shooting within 38 days. The stunt sequences were shot within 12 days with 10 stuntmen and 2 stuntwomen. The post-production was completely done in-house.

About the casting we cannot avoid to talk about the fate of the character of Claudia Diehl in the movie as Diana Frank is very appreciated in France. Her replacement Eva Habermann (as Claudia’s sister) one of the stars of your 3 Wild Angels TV-show, is a very good choice. How did the idea of the death of Claudia surface ?

Hermann Joha : The fans wouldn’t have accepted another story because Claudia would have never left the team for any reason. Eva Habermann was our first choice to replace Diana - and luckily available at that time. She is one of the most popular actresses in Germany.

3 Wild Angels (Wilde Engel) was not given any chance to prove its qualities, due to comparison to the Charlie’s Angels movies, but this TV-series was very enjoyable and entertaining. Will you propose the format again with some changes ?

Hermann Joha : We already brushed up the format. The « new » Wilde Engel are more modern, sexier and much cooler and have more fun. They are three young women each specialised in a certain field. One is an expert in adopting different personalities. In order to work undercover, she is able, like a chameleon, to switch immediately into different roles. The second « angel » is martial-arts expert and knows how to defend herself and her friends. The third « angel » is a technical freak and knows everything about machines and computers.

Last but not least there is Udo Kier as their boss. He is one of the most well known faces in Hollywood. It was not easy to bring him back to Germany, but when he read the script he was very surprised and excited that a German company is capable to set up an exceptional project such as Wilde Engel.

The German TV market is very competitive. With Alarm für Cobra 11 and Der Clown you have set the standards of a new genre that your other titles are condemned to equal and transcend.

Hermann Joha : Our team is constantly developing new stories and unexpected stunts. We are experts in producing stunt formats - and will continue and improve in that field.

With the Clown movie action concept is definitely a major actor in the action movie industry. Your company offers action sequences never seen elsewhere. Can we expect you to launch someday a franchise that could be the German answer to James Bond ?

Hermann Joha : We are working on it ... Early April GRB Worlwide and action concept made public that it has formed a partnership in order to develop, finance, produce and distribute on-hour action series to be shot in English. The first project to be announced under this new agreement is the one-hour action series entitled Ronin, which is based on the successful 1998 theatrical film starring Robert De Niro and Natacha McElhone. We are very much looking forward to this cooperation.

As we told you are a director. Beyond the action genre what are your favourite movies and directors.

Hermann Joha : My favourite movies are Speed, True Lies, Lethal Weapon , and Terminator and the director I admire most is Mr. Steven Spielberg.

On what are you working currently and what are the next TV or movie projects of action concept ?

Hermann Joha : We are working on a number of different projects. There is, of course, Alarm für Cobra 11 and I already mentioned Ronin earlier. We are preparing several TV-movies in English - with a high-class cast. For example for Dark Ride (shooting in Berlin) we could engage Drew Fuller (Charmed), Ken Bones - member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (Wing Commander, Lasko), Tanja Wenzel (Wilde Engel), Alison King (Submerged, Shanghai Knights).

(Interview done in 2005)


No comments: