While telling the story of Alpine ski racer Franz Klamer, one of Austria’s most respected and beloved sports heroes, director Andreas Schmidt took the usual biopic troop forward, instead focusing on some of the unfortunate days that led to his victory at the 1976 Innsbury Olympics. It was that focus that finally persuaded Klamer to give the film “Chasing the Line.” The premiere of the film world at the Zurich Film Festival, which opens on Thursday.
Over the years, other attempts have been made to tell Klamer’s story in the film, but none have been successful. When Jacob Pochlatko, the producer of the Vienna-based epo-film, approached Schmidt with the project, the director took the opportunity.
“I grew up with Franz Klemer – everyone in Austria did,” Schmidt said, emphasizing Klamer’s long-standing popularity in the country. “I knew what a big deal Franz was.”
Schmidt and his wife and writer partner Elizabeth Schmidt met Klammer and won them over with his story.
“We’re both not huge fans of generic biopics because they’re almost like a passion play-station after station after station.”
Schmidts instead focused on Klamer’s greatest achievement – his Olympic victory that won him gold in the descent and the days leading up to the event. The story revolves around his professional rivalry with Klamer’s girlfriend (and later wife) Eva and Swiss Downhill legend Bernhard Rusi.
“We discovered this very romantic, great love story,” Schmidt says. “If you do a great epic sports bio, you have to have love somewhere there. And there was not just our love, we had a very fragile, very romantic new love story of two young men from almost opposite worlds: he is the son of Carinthia and he is one of Vienna. The daughter of a rich industrialist.
Recalling his initial pitch to Klammer and his wife, Schmidt said, “We will tell the story of Franz Klammer; We’ll focus on this character and tell the audience who he is, but we’ll do all this work in five days. ”
“They liked it. They were very positive about our attitude towards the story.
Klamer’s amazing achievement has made him an international superstar, Schmidt added. “He instantly became famous in America as well. He was in all the magazines. He was a true hero. They liked the ability to reach him, they liked his boyish appearance and they liked his spirit.
Klemer’s instant stardom happened at a completely different time, when the Olympics were a much bigger television show than it is today, Schmidt notes. “It was when there were only three networks in America and everyone saw it. Even those who weren’t interested saw it.
While capturing the look of 1976 Austria, Schmidt worked with cinematographers Jiaosu Han and Andreas Thalhamer to give the film a fun vintage feel.
Schlade also found inspiration in Clamer’s own innate style during the shooting of the movie. “I wanted to be in hot water. I wanted to feel like her, so I wasn’t so ready. I wanted to find the movie. I wanted to find my own line for lack of a good word.
To that end, he limited his shot list to action scenes and a few sequences. “Everything else, I tried from my heart, because I thought, Franz – I have to respect that way. Maybe I should do this movie from my heart because he does everything from his heart.
“It was really stimulating for me,” he added.
For the lead role, Schmidt found the ideal young actor for Julian Waldner, who, like Klamer, is a resident of Carinthia in the Alpine state. “He’s a classically trained actor, he’s from Carinthia, he’s the right age and he can ski really, really well. I thought, is it really good to be true? ”
Schmidt had the same fate as Valerie Huber, who played Eva. Although Huber has starred in the film, he has never done such a part, he noted. “I had a feeling … and everything fell into place.”
Since finishing production of the film earlier this year, Schmidt has already done a shoot for a sequel to his 2019 hit comedy “Love Machine 2”, a lucky musician who finds success as Gigolo. The film will be released in theaters early next year.
Also coming soon is “Head Over Hills”, a romantic crime comedy about class warfare that Schmidt shot in 2019 but whose release was hampered by the epidemic.
Schmidt’s next film, written with his wife, is an untitled comedy about the Linz startup scene that is set to shoot in May.
Through his Vienna-based Samsara film production, which he ran with Loredana Rehecampoff, Schmidt Magdalena produced Loretz’s upcoming science fiction thriller “Rubicon” (similarly produced by Han and Thalhammer) to decide whether a space station crew would return to Earth. A mysterious and highly toxic fog must be secured to the planet or to a self-contained station.