Gerhard Ammelburger is a screenwriter and writes for various TV series. We asked him about his career and had him explain to us how a career as a screenwriter works best.
"No master falls from the sky."
UNICUM: How did you come to your profession?? What did you do before?
Gerhard Ammelburger: I came to screenwriting relatively late in life. I was already 40! However, I had already worked in the television industry – first as an editor at ProSieben, then as an editor at a TV station Producer at ndF: (new german film company).
What kind of requirements does a screenwriter need to have for his job??
The same applies to screenwriting: No master falls from the sky. You need patience and perseverance to learn the craft. But in order to have something to talk about, the most important thing is: You have to be interested in people and not only in films.
How did you get your first jobs?
Through industry contacts.
How did it then go on for you professionally?
I had ideas and knew what the broadcasters were looking for. And I was very lucky to work with producers/dramaturgs who were also content fit. How often do you have a board from the brain! It helps when someone says: Try it like this ..
In screenwriting it depends on the characters.
How do you get new ideas?
Definitely without premeditation and system. I only catch the balls that life throws at me. It can be a newspaper article or an advertisement for a tailor shop ..
What to pay special attention to when writing a screenplay?
Unfortunately, on everything: genre, theme, characters, plot, dialogues, structure, credibility, timing … But if I may pick something out: the characters. They must be lively and have an interesting conflict.
How many scripts have you written so far?
quite a lot. But I also only write series books that are shorter (ca. 45 minutes) and don’t claim to be reinventing television.
Do you have a favorite screenplay and why??
Always the book I wrote last. And every time I think: I’ll never be able to do that again.
Have colleagues you can ask if you ever get stuck? Can you exchange?
The exchange with other screenwriters works wonderfully on the gossip level. As far as projects go, we’re all competitors. That’s okay too. When I work at Opel, I don’t run to Mercedes when I have a problem. Fortunately, I have a producer who supports me in word and deed.
What are you writing right now?
An episode of "Rosenheim Cops. I have outlined the idea on one and a half pages (synopsis). Now I’m about to continue with the script. From the idea to the finished book, it takes about a year. six weeks.
How long is a screenplay?
A screenplay for an episode of "Rosenheim Cops has between seventy and eighty pages. This is due to a very generous formatting. There are no official standards in Germany. However, many screenwriters use script software that formats scripts so that one page of script equals one minute of film.
As a screenwriter you can also work in a team.
Is this a lonely job? Do you have colleagues who write a script with you or do you always write alone??
The famous "writing pal, I have no one to share the trials and tribulations of writing with me. And I have never missed him. But there are authors who basically only work in teams of two, because z.B. one prefers to write dialogs, the other prefers plotting.
What is always exciting, i.e. a challenge for you, when writing a screenplay?
When the characters and their story take on a life of their own.
Has gone wrong before?
My very first screenplay – what a disaster! I didn’t even finish it. And what I had written, unfortunately, was also useless. I had been working with screenplays for years before that. Writing for yourself is a whole different ballgame.
What tips can you give?
Write, write, write. And: It doesn’t always have to be "Tatort" his. There are many ways to be successful with scenic writing.
About the person Dr. Gerhard Ammelburger
Dr. Gerhard Ammelburger has General and Comparative Literature (Comparative Literature) He studied literature at the University of Hamburg, earned his doctorate with a thesis on Rilke and Saint-John Perse, and worked as a translator, freelance editor and copywriter during his studies. After finishing his studies, he looked for and found a television production company in Munich. Then it went on for him as Script editor at ProSieben and as Series Editor for German series. At the new German film company, he was hired as Producer/Dramaturg for series and television plays; since 2002 he has worked independently as a screenwriter.