Written by Murray Ashton on Jul 25, 2019. Posted in Interviews

On location in Germany with Rolf Viehrig, President of BVL- The Location Scouts Guild of Germany

I started in the film business straight from school in 1990 as a personal driver to the German actress Iris Berben. I also worked for her son, Oliver Berben, and with Constantin Film as a unit manager in 2000. My first job as a location scout was on Bookies in 2001. I had to find locations in Cologne, Germany, that could double for Philadelphia in the USA. I had found my profession!

Tell us about the BVL – The Location Scouts Guild of Germany.


Image: Stefan Arend / Funke Foto Services

The BVL was founded in Berlin in 2010. It is a professional organisation of location scouts who provide their services to feature films, TV productions and photographic and commercial productions.

The guild serves as an information platform for location scouts, media productions and property managers. It also acts as an interest representation body for location scouts as opposed to other professional organisations in the media industry and in politics. It is the aim of the BVL to enhance recognition and respect for the location scout profession in both the media industry and public sphere.

The guild is currently campaigning for location scouting to be officially recognised as a creative profession, with the objective that location scouts will no longer be required to pay business tax and IHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce) dues. A ‘creative’ classification would also qualify location scouts to apply for Künstlersozialkasse (artists’ social insurance) membership.

The BVL represents the interests of its members by working in cooperation with federal film subsidy boards and film commissions, thereby generating synergies that allow productions to find locations in the respective funding region more effectively.

Duisburg Harbour, Western Germany

What can you tell us about Germany as a filming destination?

Germany has a seemingly limitless range of shooting locations – from Alpine castles to sandy beaches, from primeval forests to modern urban skylines and a vibrant capital full of historic architecture. It has world-class crews, state-of-the-art studios and postproduction facilities.

Germany also offers a diversified network of national and regional film funds offering a myriad of financing possibilities to international producers seeking backing for their next film project. The federal and state governments also support the film and media industry with a strong funding system.

More than EUR300 million go into national and international film projects every year!

medieval castle on the hill and red roofed street in Wernigerode

Wernigerode, Central Germany

What are the more unusual locations Germany has to offer?

In Germany you can shoot anything and everything. Paris in the Western city of Wuppertal, Philadelphia in Cologne, Los Angeles, New York…

What well known international productions have used German locations in the past five years?

Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Netflix’s Sense8, TV series The Wave and Gomorra... this is just a few. The list is endless.

Berlin Skyline Winter City Panorama with snow and blue sky

Berlin Skyline

What do you enjoy about being a location scout?

I love a difficult assignment – when you have to persuade a location owner that their property won’t be viewed in a negative light even if it’s playing a slaughter house. You have to convince people that you are making a work of fiction, not a documentary.

Where did you last take a vacation?

The Maldives.

What was the last movie you saw?

The Art of Self Defense.

Thank you Rolf, it has been great talking to you.

Click here to contact Rolf.


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