A treasure trove of costumes and props: The costumes and props of the Adlershofer Fundus is the place to go for authentic film sets

04. January 2021

A treasure trove of costumes and props

The costumes and props of the Adlershofer Fundus is the place to go for authentic film sets

Anne Becker im Adlershofer Fundus © WISTA Management GmbH

Anne Becker amidst the Fundus in Adlershof © WISTA Management GmbH

The Adlershofer Fundus is an institution of Berlin’s television landscape: both a piece of cultural history and a place where the city’s filmmakers meet. Many well-known film sets were equipped and are still equipped from here. Even Daniel Brühl was here recently. Yet, a year ago, the costume and props warehouse was on the verge of being auctioned off and closed. Now it’s back.

A few blue signs, turn left, then take a right, go around the corner, down the stairs and you’re there: at the Adlershofer Fundus, Ernst-Augustin-Strasse 7. The building used to be part of the studios of East German television, the so-called production house “P1/P2” of the German Democratic Republic’s broadcasting company. It included a workshop for crafting and repairs, a costume department, and even a woodworking shop. Loading ramp and freight lift – the building had all the infrastructure needed to make television. Since 1952, the basement had been home to the place were costume and props waited to be used, the so-called Fundus. A piece of film history on 3,500 square metres. From a 1950s television to a toothbrush from the 1920s – filmmakers can bring all ages and social classes to life down to the smallest detail. The Fundus is also like an encyclopedia or library with its old magazines from the West and the East, phonebooks, photos, and documentaries. The knowledge of how everything goes together and how is held by Anne Becker.

In television, Becker explains, getting styles and historical details right is fundamental. Like the dramatisation of Erich Kästner’s novel “Fabian”, which is set in Berlin in the early 1930s. The production crew and Anne Becker went on a treasure hunt through the Fundus for a scene involving a telephone. The central question was: How often did one have to turn the dial for a connection back then? Becker smiles: “We looked it up in a phone book from that time. And there it was! People already had speed dial back then, which consisted of two letters and four numbers.”

Anne Becker has known Adlershof-based production companies for a very long time. She trained to become a costume designer here, when 8,000 people were working for the East German broadcasting company. When the GDR’s television was turned off, she worked in public relations and returned to her old workplace completely by chance. The fabrics, the treasures of the Fundus, cast a spell on her. When the costumes and props were to be auctioned off in 2018, she was a staunch supporter of preserving them.

The owner of the building Michael Probstel, manager of NAVIGO Capital GmbH, which is also based on the site, made it possible to do so. Becker supported the endeavour as acting head of the costume and props department. Shortly after the reopening, she was in charge of the set of Leander Haußmann’s “Stasikomödie”, which will be hitting cinemas this year. Leander Haußmann’s other films “Sonnenallee” and “NVA” were both equipped with costumes and props from Adlershof. Famous names like these were helpful to convince the property owner that the Fundus had a future. “The industry let out a sigh of relief when the Fundus reopened,” the costume designer says gladly.

It has (almost) everything one could possibly need: crockery from all ages, pens, crayons, notebooks, carpets, beds, lamps, radios, telephones, rubbish bins, even original butter packaging made from styrofoam. “These aren’t replicas. It’s all real,” Anne Becker says. And, of course, costumes and more costumes. Anne Becker also gets requests from museums and research institutions. Only recently, an enquiry from Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, a museum for contemporary German history in Leipzig, prompted Anne Becker to search and find the suit that actor Peter Borgelt wore when he played detective chief inspector Fuchs in the East German crime series “Polizeiruf 110”.

Daniel Brühl himself visited the Fundus recently. He is currently directing the feature film “Nebenan”. Usually, only a film crew’s prop masters and costume designers visit the Fundus for inspiration. For a long list of movies, see www.crew-united.com/de.

Looking back, a year after reopening, Becker says: “The industry is happy and the Fundus is doing well.” Not only that: The Fundus is an important supporter and patron of cultural and artistic projects. Students of film props and young television creatives can come here for inspiration, try things out, gather information, and benefit from the know-how of their predecessors. Anne Becker hopes that the “Adlershofer Fundus” can hold its position in the props industry. And she would like to see more public recognition for this place of history in the middle of Adlershof.

By Jördis Götz for Adlershof Journal

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