• Ingo Fliess © HFF München
    with an Edge


Ingo Fliess © HFF München

“There’s a completely different perception to the company since the Oscar nomination for THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE – we have now got lots of people interested in what we are doing,” says Ingo Fliess, the producer of İlker Çatak’s fourth feature film which won five Lolas last year as well as being one of the finalists for the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category.

Ingo’s journey as a producer began back in 2007 when he set up his independent company if…Productions in Munich after having represented playwrights and screenwriters as CEO of the Verlag der Autoren agency. “What fascinates me about being a producer is that every project is new and different,” Ingo explains. “You are able to develop a new language, grammar and approach to a film’s development, production and exploitation. You can draw upon certain experiences, but there’s never really a feeling of routine.”

“The profession of a producer demands a certain element of universality,” he adds. “I should have an idea of what’s going on in every department and I like having this breadth of knowledge, but, at the same time, it’s important that I have people on whose expertise I can rely on.”

if…Productions initially focused on producing such acclaimed documentaries as EL BULLI: COOKING IN PROGRESS and PARENTS’ SCHOOL – with occasional forays into fiction with films like A GODSEND and WACKERSDORF.

“Five years ago we then took the step and went from being a company that had until then almost exclusively produced documentaries to also be­come a credible and successful producer of feature films,” Ingo recalls.

This saw him beginning a fruitful collaboration with Çatak that first spawned I WAS I AM I WILL BE and has since been followed by highly acclaimed THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE and their third project together, YELLOW LETTERS, which has now gone into production at locations in Hamburg and Berlin.

Given his background as an agent for screen­writers, it is not surprising that Ingo focuses more on the writers and directors’ creative vision rather than on subscribing to specific genres or formats.

“I’ve never made escapist films – cinema as a diversion doesn’t appeal to me,” he explains. “I’m more interested in people in the here and now and their connection to society, and the issues we address are always strongly rooted in present reality.”

Over the years, Ingo has established a “family” of regular collaborators ranging from Jörg Adolph and Oliver Haffner through Gernot Krää to İlker Çatak.

“It’s great to work with people in whom you have complete confidence artistically,” he says, adding that it was “only logical” for him to come onboard Edgar Reitz’s new feature project LEIBNIZ since they have known each other since his days at Verlag der Autoren.

But that’s not to say that Ingo isn’t open to working with new young talents. In fact, he is now preparing two documentaries to shoot later this year: London Film School graduate Aygul Bakanova’s OVERTONES (working title) centres on a music boarding school in Kyrgyzstan, while HFF graduate Friedrich Rackwitz’s feature documentary debut TURNING POINT (working title) will follow the work of the F42 drug rehabilitation centre in Berlin.

Moreover, Ingo has been able to gain an insight into upcoming filmmaking talents thanks to his shared professorship with fellow producer colleague Corinna Mehner at Munich’s HFF since February 2023.

“Between the two of us, we can cover a wide spectrum of production,” he notes. “Corinna has expertise in family entertainment and high-end visual effects whereas I can offer my experience of working in the fields of arthouse cinema and documentaries.”

“Our goal is to bring greater diversity and a wider range of voices to German cinema, and also to have more women and more people with different socio-cultural backgrounds studying at the film school,” he concludes.

Martin Blaney