9. December 2016

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While filming is still underway for the costly historical series Britannia and Knightfall, on December 6, the last clapper fell on the shoot for another period project - the two-part ZDF production Heaven and Hell (Himmel und Hölle). We caught up with the filmmakers in nearby Milovice, where ordinary meadows have been transformed into battlefields for scenes of the suppressed peasant rebellion. The thermometer read a chilly -5°C, making it pretty easy to imagine one’s self in the inhospitable, harsh atmosphere of the early 16th century. Heaven and Hell revolves around Martin Luther, the central figure of the German Reformation movement, and takes place in the years following the publication of his Theses.
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ZDF public television plans to air the film in 2017, during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Berlin’s UFA Fiction and the Czech company Mia Film are producing. Filming took place entirely in the Czech Republic where the production spent CZK 103 million over the course of 50 filming days and weeks of prep work. For executive producer Tim Greve, Heaven and Hell is the fourth project he’s filmed in the Czech Republic. “At the beginning of the year I was here with the TV film Landgericht; a few months earlier I shot the series Charité, and year before last the TV film Naked Among Wolves, for which we received the German Emmy for 2015 best film of the year. I’ve got another two or three projects scheduled here for 2017. It’s pretty much already my second home,” said Greve with a smile.
I’m thrilled by the Czech filmmaking infrastructure and crew. Czechs are fast and great to work with

Martin Bromber, creative producer, UFA Fiction

UFA Fiction’s creative producer Martin Bromber filmed in the Czech Republic for the first time, and spoke of the experience in nothing but superlatives: “I’m thrilled by the Czech filmmaking infrastructure and crew. Czechs are fast and great to work with, everything works the way it should, communication between individual crews is smooth as silk. And the locations are fantastic! It’s very authentic, unlike in Germany, where everything’s ‘over-restored’ and absolutely unusable for film,” explained Bromber. “I’m trying very hard to think of something to criticize so as not to sound overly positive, but I really can’t think of anything. Many things work better here than in Germany,” he added.

Filming took place mainly in real locations and the 120-member crew chose primarily historical sites. “We filmed in Cesky Krumlov, at Krivoklat and Zikov castles, in Kolin and Kutna Hora, at the chateaus in Telc, Kratochvile, and Dobris, in the Repora folklore museum, and finally here in Milovice,” said Ladislav Jelinek of Mia Film. “In these real locations we built a lot of interesting sets – we spent nearly three weeks in Krivoklat, for example, where we built sets representing the marketplace in Worms and the interiors of Wittemberg University. The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Kolin stood in for the church in Germany’s Jiterborg and the adjacent streets were used for exterior scenes of Wittemberg. Without doubt, one of the most interesting sets was Kranach’s printing workshop, which we built in the chateau at Telc, and we produced a replica of a period printing press,” Jelinek added.
Your filmmakers are extremely skillful, and I simply love the Czech mentality and sense of humour

Uwe Janson, director

On the penultimate day of shooting, director Uwe Janson found a few minutes to talk to us. Despite the fact that he has over 50 TV films and serials to his credit, Heaven and Hell is his first project from this time period. “The locations and motifs that I found in the Czech Republic are simply fantastic. Your filmmakers are extremely skillful, and I simply love the Czech mentality and sense of humour - very similar to my own. I really enjoy working here,” said Uwe Janson.