TASTE OF LIFE
a film by Roland Reber and Mira Gittner
Germany 2017, erotic dramedy, 88 min, rated 18
- „One of the most revealingly honest and light footed society potpourris of all times.“ (Deadline Magazin)
- „Cheeky, independent, wild mix.“ (Blickpunkt Film)
- „…a clever mix of everyday wisdom, media satire and erotic farce.” (Filmecho)
since 26th oct 2018 on DVD, Blu-ray and online Stream (in German with English subtitles)
German premiere: International Hof Film Festival 2017
Theatrical release: 22nd february 2018
with Antje Nikola Mönning, Andreas Pegler, Wolfgang Seidenberg, Iris Boss, Agnes Thi-Mai,
Norman Graue, Marina Anna Eich, Mira Gittner
script: Roland Reber, Mira Gittner, Antje Nikola Mönning
art work: Mira Gittner (DoP and editing) Steffen Neder (light design)
music composer / assistance to director: Antje Nikola Mönning
line producer: Marina Anna Eich. producer: Patricia Koch, Marina Anna Eich
director: Roland Reber. production, distribution / sales: wtp international GmbH
What does life taste of? For joyful Nikki (Antje Nikola Mönning) the answer is clear: of pleasure. Delightfully she enjoys this at every possible occasion, as she drives through the country in her Land-Rover looking for people and their stories for her video-blog.
„I’m not so much interested in the topics that are shown every night in the evening news, but rather what the people on the road are telling. Every person has a story“. (NIKKI)
Cheeky, explosive and full of easiness the film pictures life in associative images all around topics of Sex and relationship, guilt and religion, sense and nonsense of conventions – and thus let you have a voyeuristic insight into the desires and longings of the protagonists.
“For me actors or film crew are neither the director’s nor the author’s henchmen, but creative artists who develop their own roles. I’m not suited to work as a tamer. Instead I see myself as a conductor who coordinates the work of soloists and weaves them together to create a harmonic orchestra. Everybody is part of the creative process, both those in front and those behind the camera. That is my definition of TEAMWORK” (Roland Reber)
TASTE OF LIFE celebrated its world premiere at the renowned 51st International Hof film festival, Germany. After 24/7 THE PASSION OF LIFE, (2005) ANGELS WITH DIRTY WINGS (2009), THE TRUTH OF LIE (2011) and ILLUSION (2013) also the new feature film (out of nine) of the wtp team celebrated its worldpremiere at Hof.
Its international premiere was at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in Belgium (april 2018).
TASTE OF LIFE is, like every production of the wtp international, produced without any subsidy and with much creativity and commitment of everyone involved, with a small team having various duties and responsibilities within crew and cast. It’s been filmed with an ARRI Alexa Camera and had its theatrical release in february 2018. DVD and BluRay release was on 26th october 2018.
FROM THE IDEA TO THE FILM
„This year we are going to make a film.“ This was the first idea and it was 1st of June 2017.
„Who wants to be part of it?“. After deciding on the cast, the creative part of forming ideas for the script started. We knew we did not want to have a narrative story. There should be no explanations. „To get inspired I started looking through Rolands old archives of texts he has written but which were far to good to be rotting away in a dusty corner.” (Mira Gittner) „Over the last years we had quite a few encounters with people and their stories, which we wanted to integrate into one of our movies.“ (Roland Reber) „The best platform for one’s emotional exhibitionism is the Internet“. (Antje Nikola Mönning)
So there it was: the basic idea of NIKKI, the video-blogger who catches people and their stories on her camera without commenting.
It only took two month of preparation, deciding on the idea for the storyline, the cast and finding and organising the locations for TASTE OF LIFE. After that it was within 25 days in august that the movie finally has been shot with a small team behind the camera, 50 people in front of the camera and 11 different locations – and lots of enthusiasm and creativity of everyone involved. After another five weeks of post production the final cut was ready in October 2017 and could celebrate its world premier at the 51st Hof international Film Festival (24.-29.10.2017), its international premiere at the Brussles International Film Festival in Belgium (April 2018).
SPECIAL WORKING METHOD
Teamwork – literally speaking.
What is so special about wtp international film production is their uncompromising dedication to film which is welding the film production team tightly together since 9 feature films. Additionally to this it’s wtp’s way of producing – including script, production, editing, sales, distribution, dvd-label, public relation all made by the same team – consequently refusing public funding money and co-production with TV stations to keep creative freedom.
All previous films of this team, with it’s core being Roland Reber as writer and director, Mira Gittner as director of photography, editor, graphic designer and actress, Antje Nikola Mönning as writer, assistant to the director and music composer as well as Marina Anna Eich as producer, actress, press agent and distributor and a few several other organisation talents, were screened at numerous international festivals.
- “The films by Roland Reber and his small committed team are discoveries of an independent cinema which are rare in the international film community.”(Feuilleton, Süddeutsche Zeitung)
- „Films of wtp which have been made with the collective dedication of the whole team, have become an unmistakable trade mark.“ (Blickpunkt:Film)
- „wtp is like the Gallic village of unbendables within the empire of the film industry.“ (Passauer Neue Presse)
To view filmmaking as a creative adventure is typical for Roland Reber and the wtp-team. Without film subsidies but with a small committed group with multiple tasks for each one of them the results is an integrated art work to which everyone involved has a creative relationship.
NIKKI Antje Nikola Mönning
JÖRG Andreas Pegler
LUDGER Wolfgang Seidenberg
JANA Iris Boss
MONIKA Agnes Thi-Mai
JESUS Norman Graue
VERENA Marina Anna Eich
HEIDERÖSLEIN Mira Gittner
CIRKUS DIRECTOR Antonio Exacoustos
MOTHER Ursula Berlinghof
RASTAR Klaus Rohrmoser
KATHARINA Ute Meisenheimer
BOY Steffen Neder
SONJA Birgit Reutter
EDMUND Thomas Kollhoff
MARTINA Claire Plaut
ROLAND REBER als er selbst
WILLY Marcus B. Holzhauer
VIRGIN Elisa Oberzig
MAN IN FORREST René Müller
MAN IN CAR Alex K.
MAN IN BIERGARTEN Robert Wagner
MAN IN ELEVATOR Albert Hartmair Jun.
WILDLIFE CAMERA Schwalbe, Mädchen, Yvette Costeau, Rico Riedel
MUSICVIDEO MAN Günter Greiner
MUSICVIDEO BAND Carsten Conrad, Zeljko Hajdinjak, TIM, Thomas Willmann
CROWD OF PRINCES Andreas Maier, Herbert Studtrucker, Daniel Kustermann, Andreas Haun, Werner Ewald
Holger Imkamp, Flo, Carsten Conrad, Zeljko Hajdinjak, TIM, Thomas Willmann
TALKSHOW CHOIR Marcus Holzhauer; Jens Moreck, Klaus Fischer, Rico Riedel
line producer Marina Anna Eich
music composer/assistance to director Antje Nikola Mönning
director of photography/
editor / art work Mira Gittner
light design / art work Steffen Neder
camera assistant / light Maximilian Melerski
grip and light assistant Marcus Holzhauer, Michael Krauss
production assistant Elisa Oberzig, Lara Kahr
production│distribution/world sales wtp international GmbH
production year 2017
shooting time august 2017
postproduction september – october 2017
locations Landsberg/Lech and surrounding area
Hof International Film Festival, Germany Oct 2017
Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, Belgium April 2018
Espoo Ciné International Film Festival, Finland May 2018
BUT International Film Festival Breda, Netherlands Spt 2018
SITGES Fantastic Film Festival, Spain Oct 2018
MICEA Muestra Internacional de Cine Experimental y Animación de Puerto Rico, 2020, opening film
- „…a clever mix of everyday wisdom, media satire and erotic farce.” (Filmecho)
- “Grow more pineapple!…what struck me was the quality of the film’s production.” (in English, thirstyrabbit.net)
- „Taste of Life is a preaching and a calendar motto, a comedy sketch and a video clip, a musical and a sex film, and of course as well life coaching“ (Kino-zeit.de)
- “Really big cinema…. 4,5 of 5 stars.” (sneakfilm.de)
- „… due to various shrilly and absurde scenes the film is an enrichment for German cinema.“ (film-rezensionen.de)
- „Consequently subversive!“ (Filmdienst)
- „Cheeky, independent, wild mix.“ (Blickpunkt Film)
- „Worth seeing!“ (Münchner Merkur)
- „One of the most revealingly honest and light footed society potpourris of all times.“ (Deadline Magazin)
- „A libertarian pamphlet!“ (Brussels International Film Festival)
- “ The collage is a brazen plea not to bend by societies norms/influences.“ (TV Spielfilm)
- „Provokatively, this contribution by Roland Reber’s commune called TASTE OF LIFE is attending itself to the topics of living room sex on social media platform like you tube- a sequel to Robert van Ackerens ‚Deutschland Privat‘ in the digital age.“ (Filmecho / International Film Festival)
- “Unconventional.” (Cinetastic.de)
- “Roland Reber a Hof original and rebel of cinema, like no other.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung / Feuilleton about Hof International Film Festival 2017)
INTERVIEW WITH ROLAND REBER (director, writer)
How did the idea of this film occur to you?
This year I definitely wanted to make a film. And if possible getting it finished in time to not miss the submission deadline for the Hof Film Festival. The Hof Film Festival means a lot to me and I see them as a gauge for the quality of films. This is why I want to dedicate this film to Heinz Badewitz, who I feel very close to. I think, he would have liked the film.
You have an own way of making and producing films. Actors are often involved in other roles – like editing, working behind the camera, co-writing, producing. How does this special way of working look like?
It’s an assumption, that I have a special way of working. My way of working – which I don’t call work – is very simple. Let it be! In other words, I leave it to the actors and the art work to create their roles and pictures themselves. I expect own interpretations from creative artists, otherwise I could play the roles myself. I see myself as a conductor, who coordinates the Soloists and brings them together in a harmonic orchestra. This is my definition of team work. Although the films are always called – and I want to point out that it’s against my will – Roland Reber films they are team work. The film industry is becoming more and more specialised. Many colleagues have the opinion there should be a certain separation of the creative, technical and the administrative field. I don’t share this opinion. You can’t divide creativity, it’s a holistic process. We are not a multi-corporate enterprise, which produces films, we are filmmakers. Filmmakers make films. And that is a holistic process – and one that evokes fun.
You make movies without any public subsidies or TV participation. Is there a particular reason for that?
Yes. Taking subsidies is like getting oneself into a straightjacket surrounded by instructions. You will receive money for a certain time and a certain project but in return you will be utterly dependent on those sponsors. In the end there is not much left of your own film except possibly the title and the fact you can call yourself a production company.
We make films with a low budget, so we can produce them ourselves and keep the authority over what we want to do. We use our own equipment, we do everything on our own from the production to the post production and the marketing. That’s how nobody can interfere in our work and we keep our freedom to be spontaneous and creative.
What’s the central theme of the film?
INTERVIEW WITH ANTJE NIKOLA MÖNNING (NIKKI/ writer/music composer/ assistant to the director)
Tell us something about your character NIKKI.
For me NIKKI represents the tradition of the „naked fool“ who is uninhibited, sensual and exposes what other people try to hide. Her major freedom consists in not being bothered by what other people think. She is simply herself and is quite delighted about that, just how she takes life, with a lot of humour. I feel very connected to this positive attitude, because I made the experience that one’s own negative thoughts often are more destructive than the situation that caused them. You can either go round in circles with your fears and worries – what mostly doesn’t change anything about the situation – or you can use this energy to make the best out of a given situation. This is the same way in which NIKKI faces people, even if they are unhappy or telling her sad stories.
How was filminng for you?
Filming was very stressful, but I had much fun. It was stressful because we had a tight time schedule. Sometimes I had to record an actors voice as another voice of the male chorus and then jump directly in front of the camera and write my own texts during the entire shooting time. And it was lovely because I laughed a lot about some funny scenes. It was great to experience how every single actor breathed life into the lines and co-created them creatively. The extras, who, for example during „Janas Song“, had their first time in front of a camera (and that straightaway naked!) got themselves into our way of filmmaking with much joy of playing. All in all, everybody in front and behind the camera contributed a lot to make the film just how we wanted it to be in an unconventional way.
You also composed the soundtrack. How did the idea of putting music into the film come up?
Actually I compose all year long, even if we are not planning a film because I get so many ideas. For example the song BEAT ME was created over a year ago as my answer to FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. It upset me that the female protagonist seemed to be distressed and suffering during the whole film. So I decided to write from a woman’s perspective who freely and self-determined begs a man to whip her. In that case the song existed before the script and we integrated it. But of course I also composed music precisely for this film after we had a slight idea of what story we want to tell. If something inspires me the song or the melody comes very quickly into my mind. In „Janas Song“, where a woman moves from one man to another, I melodised existing lyrics from Roland after a scene came into Mira’s mind.
You have written your character yourself. How did the script come into being?
The script is a joint effort. In the beginning Roland requested to make a non-narrative film, one that doesn’t give any explanations. It was meant to be a film about life. So Roland, Mira, Marina and me started collecting lots of ideas during many car rides we went on together. I was interested in playing a character who isn’t searching for something any more and doesn’t need to discover herself like Lucy did in ANGELS WITH DIRTY WINGS, but who knows who she IS and enjoys life to the fullest. Besides I liked the idea of showing a woman who enjoys to suck dicks and swallow sperm and still has a relaxed relationship to Jesus without any feeling of guilt or shame. And of course I wanted to appear naked as often as possible since I’m an exhibitionist. That’s how NIKKI’s character was born. The best platform for emotional exhibitionism is the internet. So we thought that NIKKI should run a Video-Blog and interview people while driving around the country. When Mira went through all the plays, novel fragments and poems that Roland wrote from the seventies until today, we noticed how up to date many of those topics are again (or still are). Roland gave voice to so many people in his texts that we could imagine lots of different characters. NIKKI as an interviewer became the connecting link between the stories.
Roland guided us in finding the ideas and sorted them, Mira arranged the existing texts in a dramaturgically new way, I wrote my parts myself and Marina had the mammoth task to find about 45 actors and extras.
INTERVIEW WITH MIRA GITTNER (art work, director of photography and editor/writer/ role: Heideröslein)
As the film is about a video blog, I absolutely wanted to play with different formats, to get an authentic arrangement. Usually life is not light up that beautifully and colour-corrected. And
that’s what should flash up every now and then. Furthermore I wanted to capture every
situation as authentic as possible, in other words, trying to follow the actors and not the other
way round. The ARRI Alexa was the main camera which observes from the outside. And
thanks to Steffen Neder the scenes are highlighted by a beautiful light design.For the video blog a CANON 500 DSLR was used, since many video bloggers work with DSLR cameras. It was also very important to me to show a selfie taken with a smartphone, which shows unadorned (without any color correction, editing or nice lighting) the situation of the old woman called f(u)ic(k)tion. For several driving shoots we used a WaspTact as action cam. And the wildlife camera f(u)ic(k)tion was taped with an original wildlife camera. That was the greatest challenge because the wildlife camera gets activated by moves and so I always had to make a move in front of the camera so it could start recording. And it only records for 30 sec and then has to be activated again by movement. The pig and the dog walked into the picture several times without recording before I found out.
I still haven’t found out what Heideröslein is supposed to mean. The character occurred to me during a car ride and was meant as a joke. I suggested that there could be something that keeps reappearing during the whole film. And as we were driving by a flower meadow I said, perhaps a flower. The rose actually keeps reappearing during the whole film e.g. as a picture in the elevator, as petals in the Beat me – videoclip or as a flower on a table. A bit later, Roland asked me who I wanted to play and as I was very busy behind the camera and preferred playing a small role with few lines I said spontaneously: the flower. That’s how the Heideröslein was born. I thought it was a joke until the very last shooting day. But Roland just said he had the idea of this character from the beginning, I just spoke out what he already had in mind for a long time. That’s what I call teamwork.
The great challenge is to merge all those single episodes into a harmonious whole. There wasn‘t really an exact order of scenes. Only the opening and the end was clear. So I made myself a pin board, sticked all scenes on it and switched them into different variations. And at a certain point it all fell into place.
INTERVIEW WITH MARINA ANNA EICH ( producer/ role: Verena / distribution / public relations)
How was filming for you?
A mixture of fun, positive pressure and great intensity. Sadly it was over very quickly. Even on the last day I hardly realised that we really just shot a new film.
In the beginning we thought about making a small film with about 2-3 actors in one location. As the story was developing, more and more characters came to be part of it, and in the end there were 45 actors and extras, without counting us. To arrange the cast in such a short time (especially expecting from most of them to be open towards nudity) and organising the 4-weeks shooting with over 11 locations logistically, was a real challenge for me. However, when you do something with all your heart and joy, more is possible than one can even think. In addition, the positive aspect of working with a small film team, which consists of very capable people, made it possible to have a relaxed, fast and effective filming time. All in all I can say that the preparation and the filming time of the film were really good and funny, even though there were plenty of stressful moments too.
Are there any anecdotes about the filming?
Yes, there is one about shooting the talkshow, which was set quite towards the end of the filming time. An actress cancelled because of personal reasons one day before the shoot was to happen. Phew! I was thinking to myself how could I possibly find another actress in such a short space of time. We came to the conclusion that I will play this part then. Thanks god there wasn’t much text to learn since I already had so many other things in my mind; besides this she matches with my character pretty well.
Another example: the scene with the circus director was meant to be different. Originally it should have been set in a cinema. The evening before the shoot, Mira came up with the idea, that this scene would fit much better into a circus ring. By chance, there were two touring circuses, who stopped off for a few days nearby. The next morning I stepped by spontaneously to ask for the possibility of shooting in the circus ring for a couple of hours tat very day. And that’s how the Family Kaiser gave us permission to film and the scene was able to take place in a real circus ring. The only condition was to be done by 3pm, since they had a show starting at 4pm.
INTERVIEW WITH ANDREAS PEGLER (Role: JÖRG)
How was filming for you?
Those days with the wtp team were divine! I got them all locked in my heart and won’t let them out easily. And even though I think that all that sex is overrated and I like the girls best when they are dressed – I vaguely remember times when things were different – the films of wtp for me are sublime, unique and distinctive, and so I’m very happy and proud to be a part of this new film.
Are there any parallels between your character and your own life?
No, I don’t think the character has anything to do with me. If it all I have a something to do with the character.
INTERVIEW WITH WOLFGANG SEIDENBERG (Role: LUDGER)
Tell me something about your character. Are there any parallels to your own life?
Ludger struggles with his role as a man socially, but also privately and sexually. The constant discourse about political correctness between the sexes that reaches its climax in an absurd talkshow just brings on more confusion. The great topic of wtp films, – pretence and reality, empty words and significance, profoundness and stupor in a media society-, definitely reaches a new level with its characters in this new film. I personally can relate to that scenario a lot.
How was filming for you? Are there any anecdotes?
As I played „Ludger – the willy prince“ who chases and confronts a virgin in his wild dreams, a turtle appeared on set. Well, somehow a symbol for the opposite between dream and reality.
INTERVIEW WITH IRIS BOSS ( Role: Jana)
This is your first collaboration with the wtp team. How was the filming for you?
As I have experience in working with conventional film- and tv productions but also no-and low budget productions, I knew what I would admit myself to. However, I was impressed of the extreme productivity within the small team. As an actor you are allowed to be very flexible in this way of working. Somehow it always worked out. And sometimes the „emergency solution“ came out to be the better one. I enjoyed the artistic freedom that you can rarely find in this extent. The atmosphere on set was always good and relaxed and every shoot location was a new highlight.
Tell us something about your character Jana.
JANA is one of many. She is still letting her traumatic childhood experiences determine her present life and is afraid to cross the boundaries set by her mother. Nevertheless, she’s a rather shy but curious and gentle person. Her encounter with NIKKI gives JANA the opportunity to discover her other repressed side. She admires NIKKI for her consequent life and her very personal freedom. Even though JANA is not able to live out her fantasies yet, she allows her repressed memories to come to light and arise dreams of another possible life.
INTERVIEW WITH AGNES THI-MAI (Role: MONIKA)
How did you get to know wtp?
When I was at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2009 to present a short film, everyone was talking about the film ANGELS WITH DIRTY WINGS. Since then I’m a fan of wtp.
Tell us something about your character MONIKA. Are there any parallels to your personal life?
My character is called MONIKA and she is only able to feel lust and sexuality through physical pain. She is only focused on pain, this obsession determines her life. If a man can’t whip her like she wants him to she replaces him. Men are pure objects to her and just meant to bring her personal satisfaction. I find this fact very exciting. The character doesn’t have much to do with me as a private person, privately I’m more an attached and cuddly person trying to avoid pain as much as I can.
INTERVIEW WITH STEFFEN NEDER (art work, light design, role: boy)
It was your first time in front of a camera, how was that for you?
In the beginning during the preparation and the reading rehearsal I was a bit nervous. Surprisingly I started feeling very comfortable and confident later on set. That was not least thanks to the heartly familiarity with the director, my film partner and the rest of the crew. It was so much fun being a child again! Just doing it. Without any prejudice and having an open mind. Just playing – like a child. I never imagined it to be so hard. I’m used to physical and mental work on set but acting took that on an even higher level. I thank the whole team for that awesome experience!
How did your artwork and lighting design on that film look like?
Basically I have to say that I had a free hand in doing the lighting design what you only experience in few projects. I enjoy working with wtp a lot – in my opinion there should be much more productions like that.
Naturally there has been a preliminary talk. We talked about all the scenes that were planned until then. We discussed and determined a look concerning colours and lighting together. But this preliminary decisions were never to be set in stone, what helped the creative process. Since it’s the third film we worked on together, Mira and I knew that we would get along perfectly. And so we also did this time: Starting with a little fauxpas of mine. I didn’t remember the planned cue state in the Clock-Blowjob Scene and just started building it in my creative flow. Mira just let me do it. As we took a look at the arranged picture together Mira told me that she likes it even more than the one we planned before. That’s what I call „a wonderful non verbal teamwork“.
During the music video scene I decided to create three light isles. Guitarists, drums and „Beat me“. Besides I really liked Agnes‘ outstanding performance.
Furthermore we applied the colour red. In combination with the red rose petals, black leather outfits and white artificial light it resulted in a beautiful colour mix. It was clear from the beginning that we won’t have a truck full of lights available. Which can be difficult here and there but doesn’t make it impossible to create a great picture. My motto is: Make out the best and most beautiful out of what you got! Altogether I‘m very satisfied with the technical work on the film.