THE production crew of one of Germany’s most watched TV series, Das Traumschif, a.k.a. The Dreamboat, landed in Siem Reap for eight days of filming from March 25 to April 1.
The Dreamboat is sort of an ersatz version of the long-running US TV series, The Love Boat.
The 35-man crew and cast, led by director Hans-Juergen Toegel, shot several scenes for a 90-minute film entitled Dreamboat Cambodia that will be broadcast on German television on December 26 this year.
“Angkor was on my waiting list for a long time, since the temples are breathtaking and unique in the world,” says producer Wolfgang Rademann, who invented the show in 1981 and brings images from exotic holiday destinations into German living rooms via the tube.
After filming aboard the cruise ship Deutschland in February and early March, the crew moved to Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace and finally to Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
The producer says he appreciates the support from the Cambodian government. “They got the script and cheered,” says Rademann. “Our film has no political or criminal content, but is purely promotional and everybody knows about the rise of tourist bookings after broadcasting these images on German television. We only show the beautiful side of the country; nothing critical, no poverty. We do not even mention the Pol Pot era.”
The story follows several cruise ship passengers on their land trip to Cambodian destinations. A famous chef, played by Peter Sattmann, visits local markets and a floating village on Tonle Sap lake to collect spices, herbs and new ideas. A young woman played by Ursula Buschhorn escapes a criminal tuk tuk driver who is up to no good and three young people played by Nina Bott, Steffen Groth and Simon Boer enjoy their sightseeing tour and a flight over Angkor in a hot air balloon.
Since the balloon in use near Angkor did not match the filmmakers’ wishes, they used a special effect.
“We will combine balloon images from the archive with aerial images that we took from a helicopter,” explains executive producer Holger Heinssen. In order to film the three actors in a balloon, a single basket was built and lifted up by a crane above a parking lot.
But unseasonable wet weather caused some hiccups in the production schedule.
The crew, which stayed at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort and turned the hotel-owned Wayfarer’s
Pub into a production office, had to wait for sunshine for more than a week before the hired helicopter could finally take off.
“I was promised in advance that there will be no rain and no clouds in Cambodia in March,” laughs Rademann.
“But on my arrival on March 21, it poured like a waterfall and the sun refused to come back. What kind of dry season is that?”
And although the German viewers expect beaches and palms from every new The Dreamboat episode, the crew did not bring the cameras to Sihanoukville, much to the Reap’s advantage.
“I would have loved to do so, but going there was too expensive,” regrets Rademann. “Since the airport in Sihanoukville is not yet open, the whole team would have been forced to drive seven hours by car from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. But I spend the same money on a day of travel as on a day of shooting. Therefore I decided to have some additional days at the temples of Angkor.”