With no memories of his past the puppet Fredelius awakes in the film workshop of his creator. Fredelius – innocent and kind-hearted – soon has to realize that he was only built to play the role of a super villain. Will his new consciousness help him change the course of things?
In an explosive mixture of arthouse and genre cinema “Der Tod des Filmemachers” (Death of the Filmmaker) tells a parable of free will and self-determination. The puppet becomes aware of its own structure and role. From then on it tries to rebel against it. In the movie content and form are tightly interwoven. This way a special style is created: During the journey into the miniature world the aspect of artificiality is always present and drives the plot. The intrigue of the project lies in the mixture of playful experimentation with the medium and conventions of genre as well as the reflection of self-determination and fatalism.
“Der Tod des Filmemachers” (Death of the Filmmaker) is a stop motion-animation with puppets. The film is Cornelius Koch’s graduate project to complete his master in media design studies at Hochschule Mainz, Germany. The project was partly funded by the Nachwuchsmedienförderung Rheinland-Pfalz and successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign. The production was taken up in 2014 and finished in 2018.
With the help of the stop motion technique the dead puppets were brought to life. This nearly archaic method of film production is paired with the possibilities of digital image manipulation. Yet the main focus lies on trying to shot as much as possible in an analogue style – “in camera” so to speak – to fully take advantage of the technical possibilities of photography.
The birth of the puppets
First the skeleton of the puppet was made with a ball and socket armature, then the puppets were covered with foam and dressed in clothes that were sewed specially for them. Silicon was used to create the effect of moving flesh. To be able to have a great variety of facial expressions a modular replacement method was employed which allows a quick change of faces and mouths. Another special feature of the movie is the human sized doll of the dead filmmaker, which was made by the professional make-up artist Ina Chochol using the lifecast technique. This way the “corpse” could sit in the filmset for months and become an accessible object for the animation puppets.
From 2014 to 2017 a new world was created on the ground of an industrial estate, a former tank factory, in Mainz-Mombach. On the one hand the set design was inspired by well known spy movies, on the other hand the industrial estate in Mainz influenced the look. With regard to a low-cost production upcycling was the best method to design the set. This way a lot of the film props for the industrial film interior could be found in the surroundings. For example a part of a dishwasher was transformed into an acid tank and a fire extinguisher was made into an atomic bomb. Tools and paint as well as the change of the perspective to the 1:9 scale made this possible.
Target group and marketing
In the age of CG the “Der Tod des Filmemachers” (Death of the Filmmaker) relies on the power of handmade film production and wants to get rid of the old prejudice that animated films should only be made for a younger audience. The film thrills with a lot of charm, wit and love for detail. It is a film that is aimed at genre lovers, fans of animation as well as arthouse enthusiasts. The goal is to make the film accessible for a large audience: wide spread presentation of the film at festivals, TV broadcasts and the distribution via video on demand.
Portfolio by Cornelius Koch
The filmmaker Cornelius Koch was born in 1988 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. With only twelve years he started experimenting with animated films. The archaic technique of stop motion animation has never ceased to fascinate him – be it in the form of LEGO minifigures, Barbie dolls, silhouette animation or Claymation.
As a cofounder of the german lego film community Brickboard, he laid the foundations of the brickfilm scene that is still active today. With 16 he won the first prize of the jury at the film festival Steinerei for his film “The Job” (2005). From 2009 to 2013 he studied film studies and philosophy at the University of Mainz. He then went on to do his masters in media design studies at the Hochschule Mainz which he completed in 2018. He shares his passion for animation by giving workshops throughout Germany and seminars at the university. He also worked as a unit manager, dop, sound engineer, film score composer and sound designer at various film projects. Some of his projects include stop motion productions like “Willi Alarm” (2012), a music video with barbie dolls, “Ein Märchen vom Fluss” (The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily) (2013), a silhouette animation, “iWater” (2015), a critique of consumer society in form of LEGO bricks.
Fredelius – Detlef Bierstedt
Chris Cleeve – Martin Keßler
Tanja Titow – Katrin Fröhlich
Filmmaker – Mika Metz
1. Scientist: Viktor Neumann
2. Scientist: Lutz Schnell
Soldier 1: Tim Sander
Soldier 2: Marcel Collé
Soldier 3/Soldier X: Oliver Feld