Daniel awakes, tied up in the trunk of a moving car. His kidnappers, the old roughneck Bruno, the hot-tempered Sven and the inexperienced Melvin, are only a few minutes away from delivering the hostage to their boss Detlef Delbor still having unfinished business with Daniel. They only need to cross a river to get to the delivery point.
During a 10-minute ride we witness the changing rivalries between the three gangsters and the growing panic of Daniel in the trunk. The already tense situation takes a drastic turn when they learn that their mapped out rout doesn’t take them over a bridge but on a ferry. A ferry with a very chatty ferryman …
Acheron is a 4th semester project from Hochschule Darmstadt. The film was completely shot in two parallel 14min long takes composed in a split screen.
“When we first came up with the idea of Acheron it was just a film about a guy hold captive in a trunk. We liked the idea of shooting a film in only one location with limited space, a concept that was successfully realized in films like Buried where the protagonist is locked up in a coffin under the ground. But we wanted to extend this concept by giving our protagonist Daniel the possibility to react to his surrounding environment. Through the metal of the trunk he can hear both noise from the street and the chit-chat of his kidnappers. So the concept evolved towards split screen which we realized in the final film. By showing the gangsters and the hostage all the time simultaneously in a split-screen we could not only increase the tension by always seeing Daniels desperate struggles but also show the opposite character development in the two screens.
The next logical step was the decision to shoot the film in two long-takes. This had multiple reasons. First of all, we learnt that editing would always drag the attention of the audience to the very frame cut. But we wanted to give the viewer the chance to experience both screens at once, directing the eye only by camera movement, the action and sound. Although the action takes place in real time, such a long-take would give us the tense intimacy our film needed. The concept was to use a smooth and controlled camera work for the ‘gangster part’ and a shaky handheld camera work for the hostage part, mirroring his panic.
Of course we knew the intense long-take in a car from Children of Man but we also knew that we are shooting a no-budget film and had no motion-control system available. Hence, we came up with the idea of using the latest gimbal technology from DGI. A gimbal is basically a “motion-control” camera rig, that electronically stabilizes the camera when it is moved. Another great advantage is that the Ronin from DGI is remote controlled. Therefore we were able to tilt and pan the camera from inside another car. We basically drove all the time right behind the stage car operating the camera only by seeing a crappy analog signal on small flat-screens. To not only pan and tilt the camera but physically move it, we rigged a slider onto the ceiling of the car, on which the gimbal was attached. Our key grip was lying in the trunk and moved the camera forwards and backwards by pulling some ropes getting commands over headset by the DOP.
After finishing this part of the film we tore the trunk apart and rebuilt it in a studio. This was necessary because we needed to remove and but back all the sides of the trunk (like walls in a studio-set) to accomplish our continuous fourteen minute choreography. We had to make sure the camera had always enough room to operate and film nothing of the studio environment because a set-piece was not in position.
Besides planning was essential for the success of the film. So while the technical departments rehearsed the camera choreography with stand-ins for three days, the director worked with the actors. There is a written script, but we gave the actors the freedom for a certain range of improvisation, both to give them the chance to react to unforeseen events and give the film an even more authentic feeling.”
– Matthias Kreter, director
Cast & Crew
Born in 1990 in Frankfurt a.M. Matthias is currently studying Motion Pictures at the Univerity of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. After his highschool graduation he first studied biology but soon realized that he didn’t want to dissect rats and count colonies of bacteria for a living. Hence he followed his passion filmmaking and attended a short program at the Met Filmschool London. After working for the Munich International Film festival and an internship in a film production company he applied for the filmmaking programme at Hochschule Darmstadt in 2013.
Through his work for Filmhaus Frankfurt (an supporting institution for local filmmakers) Matthias was part of a delegation of “young german leaders” vistiting Isreal. It was organized by the Israeli embassy to celebrate 50 years of friendship with Germany.
After several internships in film industry Marc decided to study Motion Pictures at the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. There he contributed some incredibly passionate work as a DOP in a broad range of short films. On top of that he gained valuable experience in various feature films as a video operator, such as Stromberg (directed by Arne Feldhusen) and Nebel im August (directed by Kai Wessel).
After acting on stage and studying Media and Computer Science at DUT in Dresden for two years, Philipp decided to go all-in for film. As a result he gained experience in various positions during feature film production both on set and in post working at Pixomondo and Chimney among others. In 2013 he signed up for the Motion Pictures programme where he focussed on producing, directing and writing. Furthermore he found interest in video art and installations during his studies at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
French born he moved to Germany when 16 years old. There he both discovered his devotion to dub music and found himself organising concerts and other music events. He then specialised in sound engineering and started working as an sound assistant. Fascinated from film he combined his two passions now studying Motion Pictures taking care for the other most important component: sound!
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