Spy drama Berlin Station filmed in German capital
Modern day spy drama Berlin Station filmed largely in the German capital as a co-production between Paramount Television, Anonymous Content and Studio Babelsberg.
The ten-part series tells the story of a CIA agent who relocates to the agency’s Berlin field office as part of a clandestine internal operation to find the source of an intelligence leak.
“We wanted to show Berlin as an interesting and lively modern city, and authenticity was always a key word,” says Michael Scheel, the series line producer, in comments to KFTV.
“The plan was always to shoot where the story took place, to get that feeling of Berlin and its special vibration as a city.
“Other places in Europe have doubled for Berlin in different productions, but Berlin is unique as a city.”
The production team’s dedication to authenticity extended to ensuring that story details accommodated the specific geography of well-known public spaces like Berlin Alexanderplatz railway station in the city centre. Even the direction of travel was kept accurate when characters used public transport.
Scheel praises the local city’s authorities – including the Berlin Brandenburg Film Commission – for helping facilitate the shoot.
“One of the central challenges we faced was shorter prep times to arrange filming permits, and also for sorting out parking in the centre of the city,” Scheel says. “It’s a major operation when you have equipment trucks and trailers for a location shoot, but the local authorities were great.”
The Berlin Station team did venture outside the city, opting to double La Palma in the western Canary Islands for Panama and Morocco.
“Filming in the Canary Islands was partly a financial decision, but it was also a practical one,” Scheel says. “It was easier to get the crew to Canary Islands than it was to travel all the way to Panama. La Palma offered the jungle scenery we were looking for and it was also easy to find locations that looked like Morocco.”
Germany is becoming more popular as an international filming location. In 2015 the US terrorism drama Homeland filmed an entire season in Germany – becoming the first American TV series to do so – and Marvel spent four weeks filming scenes locally for Captain America: Civil War, including a key action sequence at Leipzig Airport.
The country faces limitations with its filming incentive programme – the German Federal Film Fund is capped at just €10m – but productions like Berlin Station are likely to help boost Germany’s international profile.
For more on filming in Germany see our production guide.
Images: Stephanie Kulbach for EPIX/Paramount.
Editor's Note (21/11/16): This article has been amended after incorrectly stating that Berlin Station was filmed on Las Palmas in the centre of the Canary Islands archipelago, rather than La Palma, which is an island to the west.