My name is Anna, I am 23 years old, I make documentary films and come from a rural area in central Germany.
In the spring of 2013, I spent two months on an organic cheese farm in Wales. Apart from changing my views about city life in general, I stumbled across the book Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter sitting on the shelf in on the bedroom. I was majorly intrigued, and on my last day at that farm an idea had started rummaging in my mind: I would buy a bus, use it for the production of my back-then-in-development documentary series “Stories From Reality” and live in it. After a few months search I took my savings (to the worry of my parents) and bought a yellow 1980 Mercedes.
It has a size of approximately 5 square meters and runs on diesel and good music. In 2014, I started rebuilding the bus under the supervision with the help of my partner Fabian, an architect with a great talent for woodcraft.
The bus already had an almost historic system of shelves and storage room, but was also heavily infused by eighties styles, whichI really wanted to get rid of. It took a few months and a lot of sawing, sanding and varnishing. Now, the bus includes an editing desk for making films, lots more storage room and a spacious kitchen. Most plastic things have been thrown out, we tried to make all the wood reappear under the “eighties layers,” and as you might imagine, the building process never really stops…
Last September we set out with lots of camera equipment as a team of three (camera, sound, cook/driver) to a small village in North Wales, which had been chosen coincidently, to shoot the pilot for my documentary series “Stories From Reality.” In that series, people of all ages are invited to retell the stories of their lives by means of documentary film. For the series, we have developed a catalogue of documentary set ups, from which people can choose those most sympathetic to them. The aim is to give people a safe but free room to tell their stories, in the framework of that catalogue.
With documentary filmmaking in Germany usually meaning to have to little money or shaky finances, I have entered the project also tolower production costs and allow a clear focus on the project during the shooting — meaning campsite peace but also reduced comfort and changed habits for the team. Also, the bus allows us to spontaniously go for a filming trip, having everything on board, both for our basic needs and the filmmaking. I, personally, feel that the reduced space is helping me focus on what’s important rather than organising my “materialistic kingdom” all the time.
In the future, I’d love to install a solar panel to be more independent of electricity. Oh, and of course there’s a thousand more ideas! Right now, during summer, I live and travel entirely in the bus, experimenting with how usable it is and how much I actually miss having a firm base.
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Thanks for the email, Anna, the van looks great!