Tuesday, 23 August, 2016
The shooting of Die Wilden Hühner (C.H.I.X.)
In January 2006 the first film version of Cornelia's popular series "Die Wilden Hühner" (C.H.I.X.) started in German cinemas. The book series about the adventures of a gang of five girls and their sometimes more, sometimes less adverse boys' gang The Piranhas is very, very popular in Germany.
We spent a day on the film set.
A hot September morning, a rampant meadow, bushes and snaggy pear trees – and amidst the green an old caravan. A figure, cloaked with a grey scarf, is sneaking around the caravan, eavesdropping on what is told inside. Suddenly the door is flung open and a girl with blond curls jumps out. Taken by surprise, the “spy“ runs away, followed by the blond girl and, in a row, one, two, three more girls jump out of the caravan, run behind the mummed stranger.
The “spy“ stumbles and ...
“Cut! Thank you!“ The German director Vivian Naefe comes out of her black director's tent. There they are together – Die Wilden Hühner (C.H.I.X.).
Around them a hustle and bustle of people: director, assistant director, camera crew, prop masters, ... and in the middle of this crowd – the old caravan.
The movie set location for the next days is a hidden, feral plot of land near the German city Cologne.
Birgit, one of the women who look after the children throughout the shooting, tells that the girls are wonderful and uncomplaining, even though the days are very exhausting. Two educationalists and one teacher take care of the children, staying with them at the hotel and looking after them at the movie set. The hotel's indoor pool is always the young actresses' first destination after a long day of shooting, but they are allowed to go swimming only three times a week – because chlorine bleaches their hair.
Under canvas actors and film crew get everything their stomachs are dreaming of after an arduous morning of work. Next to the "supply" tent stands the make-up artists' and wardrobe masters' caravan, where the girls first of all get their costumes in the morning. It is followed by a very private rehearsal – just between the director and the children. Vivian Naefe sets great store by this. After the rehearsal the girls get their make-up, sometimes four times a day.
Private Property. No admittance! says a sign at the gate that opens the way to the movie location. Behind the gate stand the bikes of the C.H.I.X., the chief chicken's bike can be recognized by feathers attached to the handle bar.
The caravan, the girls gang's secret accommodation, which the film team has chosen and made up for the movie, looks different to the caravan described in Cornelia's books, but it nevertheless looks really great – just as you imagine a cool and cosy hideaway for a gang.
In front of it, like a watchdog for the Chicks, a big “air chicken“ is sitting on a chair. Die Wilden Hühner is written in big letters across the caravan. Inside, flowers, stars and starfishes are painted on the walls, feathersand necklaces are hung up all around, ... in short, a beautifully wild decoration. The C.H.I.X. feel at home.
During a shooting break, the Berlin girls Paula, Zsa Zsa and Lucie and the Munich girls Michelle and Jette meet inside the caravan to tell a little bit about themselves, the C.H.I.X. and the shooting.
Charlie: Michelle von Treuberg
Xa: Lucie Hollmann
Izzie: Paula Riemann
Hannah: Zsa Zsa Inci Bürkle
Wilma: Jette Hering
Did you know the C.H.I.X. books before you applied for a role in the movie?
The C.H.I.X.: “Yes, all of us knew them before.“
Michelle: “The C.H.I.X. books are my most favourite books!“
Did everyone of you get exactly the role she wanted?
The C.H.I.X.: “Actually yes. We are all content with the part we play.“
Lucie: “Well, I also would have loved to play Charlie, but Xa is great as well.“
Did anyone of you star in a movie before?
The C.H.I.X.: “Some of us, yes. Michelle, for example, played in the German docudrama Speer und Er (2005), Paula in the German movie Bergkristall (2004) and Zsa Zsa took part in some commercials.“
What about the learning by heart?
The C.H.I.X.: “No sweat!“ “No trouble whatsoever!“ At school we often had to learn poems by heart and we found it easy as well.“
Did you know all the popular actors and actresses such as Veronica Ferres, Jessica Schwarz, Benno Fürmann, ... that worked alongside you?
The C.H.I.X.: “Yes, we knew them from TV and from the movies.“
Michelle: “I saw Benno Fürmann in Pünktchen und Anton (a big screen adaptation of Erich Kästner's popular German children's book).“
How do you get along with each other?
The C.H.I.X.: “Super! We are the C.H.I.X., best friends!“
And how do you get along with the boys?
The C.H.I.X.: “Not bad, but sometimes they are fooling around too much, they are too giddy. It's always nice to be just among girls again.“
As for acting, what do you find most difficult?
The C.H.I.X.: The heat. And to get up at the crack of dawn, that's the worst. And to wait one's turn. There are so many, many waiting periods during the shooting. Sometimes it's wearisome, but we then often spend time here in the caravan.
As to the caravan, did you picture it to look like this?
The C.H.I.X.: “For the most part, yes. It looks different from the outside, but we love it anyway.
What do you usually do during shooting breaks?
The C.H.I.X.: “Reading Bravo (the most popular German teen magazin), have a natter, ... “
Michelle: “Kidding around.“
Paula: “Just the things girls like to do.“
Are you homesick sometimes?
The C.H.I.X.: “Not really, but it is always nice to get home on and off and to sleep late.“
Paula: “I miss my pets!“
Michelle und Jette: “We like the “country feeling“at the set. It's like where we are at home. (Michelle and Jette live near Munich, Paula, Lucie and Zsa Zsa are from Berlin. Lucie tells that she would prefer to live in the countryside as well. She does not like city life very much.)
Is there anything in particular you would like to tell Cornelia's fans?
The C.H.I.X.: “Watch the film!!!!!!!“
After the interview shooting continued and Uschi Reich, producer and screenplay writer of Die Wilden Hühner, found time to tell why she finds Cornelia's stories so special.
What appealed to you about producing the adaptation of Cornelia's cult book series?
Uschi Reich: “Cornelia writes brilliant dialogues and her talent for portraying her stories' characters by dialogues is outstanding. She is a master of watching reality, because in her books reality is completely seen with the eyes of children. We often tried to rewrite the dialogues, but we always got back to the original.“
What's more fun, producing films for children or for adults?
Uschi Reich: “Children's films. Adults behave much better when children are at the film location. They are less bitchy. And I spend more time at the location, just to see, how the children are doing.“
To sum it up, it was a beautiful day on the C.H.I.X. film set, a very familiar atmosphere, warm and easy, and the girls were the “chicken of the walk“.