TAKE ME HOME (DIE SPUR IM SCHNEE)

Take Me Home (Die Spur im Schnee) - movie poster
writer/director
feature | with Elisabeth Lanz, Miguel Herz-Kestranek | 105min | USA/AUT 2005
Watch the trailer | Press Clippings

After many years of living in Los Angeles, Elisabeth returns to her small home town in Upper Austria. She wants to sell the old farm house she has inherited from her mother who she never knew. While staying in her late mother´s house, she starts seeing a little girl that appears and disappears like a ghost. She has to learn that that little girl is no one but herself, 30 years ago…

After “The Leaving” I wanted to make another movie with my principle cast, Elisabeth Lanz and Thomas Sturm. Only this time, Elisabeth would be starring the film. Her wonderful performance in the former film somewhat over-inspired me. I was ready to go to work. The new film would be very different. It would be a “real” film shot with classical camera language, not a cinematic experiment like the last one. And it would be a ghost story. I don’t know why, but – that was what I set out to do.

I got much input from my stars drafting the script, and I wrote 3 full completely different stories until I teamed up with the writer Freya Stewart to get the third version onto the next level, plot-wise. While Thomas had contributed much to the screenplay of “The Leaving”, for the new film it was Elisabeth who was very actively giving input. After all, it was her film. The story of a woman coming home and facing her past.

Elisabeth got her friend Heidelinde Pfaffenbichler involved, who was the perfect cast for Thomas’ love interest. And Katrin, my favorite producer, managed to bring talented Roland Vuskovic on board as director of photography – only a few days before shooting, as the guy before had left the project last minute… And my friend Katharina had a beautiful talented four year old niece who turned out perfect for the part of young Elisabeth.

Elisabeth Lanz and Alina Rauch - both playing the same girl/woman - pose for a photo shoot
Elisabeth Lanz and Alina Rauch – both playing the same girl/woman – pose for a photo shoot

Finally, I was incredibly fortunate to be able to talk the great Austrian actor Miguel Herz-Kestranek into joining the cast as Elisabeth’s (and her mother’s) love interest. The part of the doctor was crucial, and I could not have thought of a better man to play it. Later during the shoot he told me that in his 30+ years of making movies, he had never before performed without being paid… our film was his first! This was part of the magic that surrounded the film.

Many mystical things happened around the drafting and the shooting of the film – not always in a pleasant way, though.  The scarceness of resources, long shooting hours with almost no days off, freezing temperatures, improvised quarters for cast and crew, a mean gastrointestinal virus that knocked out two thirds of the crew at peak of production… all this meant extremely strenuous conditions for our bodies and our minds. And many people died – not on our set, but close relatives of our cast or crew, like Thomas’ father, our producer’s very close friend, the aunt of a make up artist and so on. It might all be a coincidence, but still it is noteworthy that I have never again seen so many deaths happen around me in such a short time. And on a daily basis, it seemed like we had to pack it all in – only for our production to be rescued by strange events (and the incredible work of our producers, Katrin Gangl and Anja Kliem) which like magic kept our boat afloat, over and over again.

Shooting in the snow - Roland Vuscovic (camera), Miguel Herz-Kestranek, Robert Narholz, Martina Köhl
Shooting in the snow – Roland Vuskovic (camera), Miguel Herz-Kestranek, Robert Narholz, Martina Köhl (and unidentified crew)

Elisabeth did a marvelous job. I know she sacrificed and suffered much for and during her performance. And it really shows. To this day I feel honored of her generosity. It was tough on her. But she held on to it. We all did.

Compared to the shoot in the deep and dark Upper-Austrian winter, the three days of shoot in Los Angeles were like a much needed vacation to us. This shoot too was riddled with crazy problems and even more insane solutions – but by that time we were used to it.

My brother Gregor, finally, contributed the music to the film. Due to his work for a recorded music library he was able to record the original score with a full symphonic orchestra. It was absolutely incredible to see how his music lifted the film up to an entirely new level. He is an insanely talented composer with an impeccable international resume, and was he not my brother, oh my, I dread the thought that for my next project I would actually have to pay him…

Gregor Narholz conducting the Budapest Film Orchestra scoring "Take Me Home"
Gregor Narholz conducting the Budapest Film Orchestra scoring “Take Me Home”

We again chose the Gmunden Art Festival as location for our premiere – as a scene of the film was shot in the theater where the film would be shown, and it was a great, local atmosphere of reunion and celebration. It was a great success. We went on to screen at the Film Festival Avignon, and then held our US premiere in New Jersey, where we won the award for best foreign film. After that the film went on to a few other festivals, and got theatrical distribution in Austria, only to be released to DVD shortly after.

It was a long, difficult journey for me. But it was all worthwhile. I learned a lot. Made many mistakes. And grew through them. And I came out of the project knowing, again, that moving pictures was the most wonderful medium on earth. My medium. And that the universe – at least for this film – was on my side.

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