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Babylon Berlin: Arbeiterproteste
Arbeiterproteste © Frédéric Batier / X Filme 2017

A look behind the scenes

As an extra on the set

Stefanie Hanssen worked as an extra on "Babylon Berlin" and had the time of her life. She tells us about her experiences on the set.

visitBerlin: How did you come to apply for a job as an extra on Babylon Berlin??

It began when I read the books of Volker Kutscher in early 2016 and I was immediately spellbound. I "devoured" all five volumes.  After I came to the end of the 5th volume, I said: "If these crime thrillers are ever filmed, I'll do anything to be an extra on them." It was such a huge desire, because I love the books so much.
And when I read in the Tagesspiegel, that they were looking for extras, I thought "it's now or never" and I drove to the casting agency with my heart pounding. After the casting, I hoped anxiously that I would be accepted, which I then was. And it was even more fantastic than I had expected.

How was your first day of shooting?

It was really full on. It started with a shoot at the Red Town Hall - with Tom Tykwer! It was an elaborate shoot with about 170 extras. It began early in the morning at four o'clock. There had already been appointments for costumes and make-up before the shoot. I played a working-class woman. I had to cut my hair.  It had to look like a rough pageboy haircut, as if it had been cut with a knife. I had to overcome my inhibitions a little, but I wanted to do everything for the role.
The "line up" began at five in the morning at sunrise in the French street, where we were dressed. It was a great moment in my life! It was my first joyful experience on this shoot, because it was like a journey through time. Suddenly all the extras looked like they were from the 1920s.

Is this the scene you see in the trailer?

Stefanie Hanssen - Statistin bei "Babylon Berlin"
Stefanie Hanssen - Statistin bei "Babylon Berlin" © visitBerlin, Foto: Kristin Buller

Yes, I am waving a red flag and chanting workers' slogans. At the end of the day after 12 hours I was hoarse. I gave my all.

And how was Tom Tykwer as a director?

Tom Tykwer has directed and created a wonderful atmosphere on the set with great consideration, love and care. He spoke so kindly to us, gave wise and considerate instructions. It was a great day, then it got even better.

What happened next?

On the 2nd day we filmed at Alexanderplatz which was completely cordoned off for the team. The set was even bigger, around 250 people were there as extras.

And did you see the actors?

Yes, Volker Bruch and Liv Lisa Fries, the two leading actors were there that day. I have a very good feeling about the two of them, they fit one hundred percent. For me they are a real winner.
The script is certainly different from the original, it is sharper and condensed. It must strike the right note, and I believe it will.

And how was the next day of shooting?

The shoot in the former silent film theatre Delphi in Weißensee was really exciting. This is the Mokka Efti from the novel. It has music hall feel you can already see in the trailer, it really is like the film "Der tanz auf dem Vulcan" (Dance on the volcano).
I was lucky enough to be there in a beautiful cream-coloured dress, as a modern woman of the 1920s, with a new haircut, thick stockings with seams and high heeled shoes. I danced all day in those. We had to learn a dance to music, which is both modern and at the same time wicked. Music and dance capture the mood simply wonderfully. Incidentally, the great Lars Eidinger was also involved in the shoot.

And your final shoot?

The next shoot was something different again: it was in a cinema in Klein-Machnow, which looks authentic internally in keeping with the 1920's. We portrayed a cinema audience, who are viewing a newsreel, and whose reaction is captured.
I couldn't participate in the shoot in the Berliner Ensemble and a few other things, as I had already planned my summer holiday. I almost cancelled my holiday ...

And are you still working as an extra?

Yes, it was a great experience and I had so much fun! I am now also working as an extra on "Kudamm 59" and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "Werk ohne Autor (work without author)". It's really great, this city offers so many opportunities.

And will you watch the show right away?

Yes, absolutely. I'm so excited.

Thank you for speaking with us.