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HISTORY

       According to the 20 Jul 1983 LAT, director Wim Wenders was visiting Europe in 1981 during a ten-month hiatus from the production of his film Hammett (1983, see entry), and visited Portugal, where several of his friends were involved in the production of a picture titled The Territory (1981). During his visit, Wenders discovered a beachfront hotel that had been badly damaged in a storm two years earlier and thought it would make an excellent location. After inviting the cast and crew of The Territory to join the project, the director flew to New York City and wrote a three-page treatment, which aided his business partner, producer Chris Sievernich, in raising production money from European distributors. Sievernich made cash deliveries to Wenders throughout the shooting schedule, which consisted of seven weeks in Portugal and three weeks in Los Angeles, CA. The total budget was estimated at $700,000. The director described the film as a “metaphor” for his visit to Portugal and his experiences in the Los Angeles entertainment industry.
       The 17 Feb 1982 Var reported that screenwriter Joshua Wallace was suing Wenders for breach of contract. Wallace, who received neither compensation nor credit for his contributions to The State of Things, wrote an article for the German magazine, Tip, recounting his experiences during production. Chris Sievernich intended to sue the magazine for printing Wallace’s story. The outcome of the lawsuits could not be determined from available information. The article, which was reprinted in the 29 Jan 1982 LA Reader, stated that Wenders ... More Less

       According to the 20 Jul 1983 LAT, director Wim Wenders was visiting Europe in 1981 during a ten-month hiatus from the production of his film Hammett (1983, see entry), and visited Portugal, where several of his friends were involved in the production of a picture titled The Territory (1981). During his visit, Wenders discovered a beachfront hotel that had been badly damaged in a storm two years earlier and thought it would make an excellent location. After inviting the cast and crew of The Territory to join the project, the director flew to New York City and wrote a three-page treatment, which aided his business partner, producer Chris Sievernich, in raising production money from European distributors. Sievernich made cash deliveries to Wenders throughout the shooting schedule, which consisted of seven weeks in Portugal and three weeks in Los Angeles, CA. The total budget was estimated at $700,000. The director described the film as a “metaphor” for his visit to Portugal and his experiences in the Los Angeles entertainment industry.
       The 17 Feb 1982 Var reported that screenwriter Joshua Wallace was suing Wenders for breach of contract. Wallace, who received neither compensation nor credit for his contributions to The State of Things, wrote an article for the German magazine, Tip, recounting his experiences during production. Chris Sievernich intended to sue the magazine for printing Wallace’s story. The outcome of the lawsuits could not be determined from available information. The article, which was reprinted in the 29 Jan 1982 LA Reader, stated that Wenders learned of Wallace through filmmaker Roger Corman, who was invited by associate producer Pierre Cottrell to join Wenders’ latest production in Portugal. On 24 Jan 1981, Wenders telephoned Wallace, at his Paris, France, apartment, and hired him to write the screenplay about “a film within a film” on two days’ notice. Wallace was flown to Portugal the following week with instructions from Cottrell to research the neutron bomb. Upon his arrival, Wallace and fellow screenwriter Robert Kramer were ensconced in a castle called the Quinta de Capella, with instructions from Wenders to develop a screenplay “about artistic destruction and competitiveness,” inspired by the director’s difficulties with the release of Hammett. He added that the plot was to be a riddle, rather than a conventional storyline. Both Wallace and Kramer were expected to act in the film as well. Following negotiations with Sievernich, the writers were guaranteed $10,000 each for their contributions, and with a ten percent advance.
       The production was immediately beset by difficulties: an order of film stock failed to arrive before the start of principal photography, forcing Wenders to purchase an inferior grade of film from a local merchant; actor Patrick Bauchau suffered from a toothache throughout the Portugal shoot; neither typewriters nor stationery had been supplied for Wallace and Kramer, requiring them to write their first drafts of the screenplay on napkins. According to Wallace, the screenplay was not employed during the shooting of several scenes. Kramer reportedly accused Wallace of not understanding Wenders’ vision, causing a rift between the two writers. Wallace suggested they work independently of each other and leave it to the director to decide between them, but Kramer rejected the proposal. Actor-filmmaker Sam Fuller arrived on set, and with his encouragement, Wenders and Sievernich established a discernible storyline that would still allow improvisational elements. Regardless, Kramer ceased work on the screenplay and submitted changes to Wenders through memoranda. Sievernich fired Wallace, but the writer refused to leave until he was paid. Wenders was willing to reconsider the firing until Kramer convinced him that Wallace intended to make the film a commercial “Hollywood” production. At the time of the article, Wallace was suing Wenders for unpaid wages, Pierre Cottrell was suing fellow associate producer Paulo Branco for supplying the production with incomplete rolls of film stock, known as “short ends,” Sievernich had not been reimbursed for his $50,000 investment, and the actors received less than half of their salaries. The article noted that Fuller’s character, “Joe Corby,” was inspired by cameraman Joe Biroc, who was known for imitating Fuller’s speech mannerisms.
       The 4 Aug 1981 HR announced that Wenders was editing the film at Atelier Studios in New York City. Editing was completed the following month, as reported in the 30 Sep 1981 Var. According to the article, Sievernich was able to raise the $800,000 budget within one week, based on Wenders’ original scenario and his reputation as a director.
       Following the picture’s premiere at the 1982 Venice Film Festival, where it won the “Golden Lion” ("Leone d'Oro") award, Wenders and Sievernich were offered distribution by a U.S. company, with no advance or guaranteed payments, according to the 16 Feb 1983 Var. They declined, choosing to distribute through their own company, Gray City, Inc., and recovered the entire budget from sales to European distributors. Additional openings were scheduled for 18 Feb 1983 at the Bleecker Street Cinema in New York City, 21 Jan 1983 in Miami, FL, 18 Jan 1983 in Spain, 12 Feb 1983 in Quebec, Canada, and 21 Feb 1983 in London, England. The film first opened in the former Federal Republic of Germany in early 1983.
       The State of Things opened to mixed reviews, earning $14,000 during its New York City debut, as reported in the May 1983 Box.
      Opening credits include the following statement: "Leone d'Oro nel 50th anniversario del Festival di Venezia." End credits include the following statements: "With many thanks to Peter Przygodda for his help and advice"; "Special thanks to Cinetudes Film Production, New York; Magno Sound, New York; EFX Opticals, New York; Cinema Television Design, New York; Texas Bar, Lisbon; Tiny Naylors, Los Angeles; Fibu, Berlin; and Apple Computers."
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1981.
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Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1983
p. 24.
Kino
Apr 1981.
---
LA Reader
29 Jan 1982
p. 1, 8-10.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jul 1983
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jul 1983.
---
New York Times
18 Feb 1983
p. 19.
Variety
30 Sep 1981.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
8 Sep 1982
p. 16.
Variety
16 Feb 1983.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Gray City, Inc. Film Release
A film by Wim Wenders
A Production of Gray City, Inc.-New York and V.O. Films-Lisbon
for Road Movies GmbH-Berlin
Wim Wenders Produktion-Berlin
Pro-Ject Filmproduktion-Munich
in association with Pari Film-Paris
Musidora-Madrid
Film International-Rotterdam
Artificial Eye-London
in co-production with Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen-Mainz
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir, Portuguese crew
Asst dir trainee, Portuguese crew
Prod mgr, Portuguese crew
Prod mgr, Los Angeles crew
Asst dir, Los Angeles crew
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Still photog, Portuguese crew
Cam asst, Portuguese crew
2d cam asst, Portuguese crew
Loader, Portuguese crew
Key grip, Portuguese crew
Gaffer, Portuguese crew
Grip, Portuguese crew
Grip, Portuguese crew
Grip, Portuguese crew
Still photog, Los Angeles crew
Cam asst, Los Angeles crew
2d cam asst, Los Angeles crew
Gaffer, Los Angeles crew
Key grip, Los Angeles crew
Best boy, Los Angeles crew
Best boy, Los Angeles crew
Grip, Los Angeles crew
ART DIRECTORS
Set des, Portuguese crew
Computer graphics
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
COSTUMES
Cost, Portuguese crew
Cost asst, Portuguese crew
Seamstress, Portuguese crew
MUSIC
Orig score by
SOUND
Boom, Portuguese crew
Boom, Los Angeles crew
Boom, Los Angeles crew
MAKEUP
Make up, Portuguese crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst, Portuguese crew
Prod asst, Portuguese crew
Prod asst, Portuguese crew
Prod asst, Portuguese crew
Scr [supv], Portuguese crew
Prod secy, Portuguese crew
Prod coord, Los Angeles crew
Prod asst, Los Angeles crew
Prod asst, Los Angeles crew
Prod asst, Los Angeles crew
Scr [supv], Los Angeles crew
Computer programming
Computer programming
Bookkeeping
Prod coord
Prod coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Negative developed by
Negative developed by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Standin' At The Big Hotel," by Joe Ely (courtesy of MCA Records)
"Fools Fall In Love," by Joe Ely (courtesy of MCA Records)
"Girl's Imagination," by The Del Byzanteens (courtesy of The Del Byzanteens)
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SONGS
"Standin' At The Big Hotel," by Joe Ely (courtesy of MCA Records)
"Fools Fall In Love," by Joe Ely (courtesy of MCA Records)
"Girl's Imagination," by The Del Byzanteens (courtesy of The Del Byzanteens)
"Tom's Song," by David Blue (courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records)
"Los Angeles," by X (courtesy of Slash Records)
"Lies To Live By," by The Del Byzanteens (courtesy of The Del Byzanteens)
"Beyond And Back," by X (courtesy of Slash Records)
"Hollywood, Hollywood," by Allen Goorwitz.
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PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Der Stand der Dinge
Release Date:
18 February 1983
Premiere Information:
Premiered at Venice Film Festival: Aug 1982; New York opening: 18 Feb 1983; Los Angeles opening: 5 Aug 1983
Production Date:
early 1981
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Prints
Prints by Geyer, Berlin
Duration(in mins):
120
Countries:
Portugal, Germany, France, Spain, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

German filmmaker Friedrich “Fritz” Munro directs a low-budget science fiction picture titled, The Survivors, on a beach near Lisbon, Portugal. Cameraman Joe Corby informs him that they are out of film, and the production is halted while Friedrich tries in vain to contact Gordon, the producer, in Los Angeles, California. Unlike his fellow crewmembers, Joe is not surprised by Gordon’s abandonment of the project, and he advises the director to “start praying.” That evening at dinner, Friedrich tries to convince the cast and crew that the hiatus is a positive development. Later, Friedrich’s wife and scriptgirl, Kate, tape-records an audio letter to her family, and cast members Anna and Mark engage in an affair, while actress Joan practices her violin. Joe Corby leaves for Los Angeles to see his wife, who is near death following a series of strokes. Friedrich takes a walk to Gordon’s recently purchased mansion, and finds Dennis, the screenwriter, in one of the bedrooms. He falsely accuses Friedrich of hating Gordon, and shows the director a computer-generated graphic image, calling it “a piece of Gordon’s mind.” Dennis has suffered from insomnia since Gordon left Portugal, and doubts he will be able to complete the film. Meanwhile, Joe sits in a Lisbon barroom, chatting with the bartender as he awaits his flight, oblivious to Anna and fellow actor Robert, who are seated at a nearby table. That evening, Friedrich announces to the cast and crew that he ... +


German filmmaker Friedrich “Fritz” Munro directs a low-budget science fiction picture titled, The Survivors, on a beach near Lisbon, Portugal. Cameraman Joe Corby informs him that they are out of film, and the production is halted while Friedrich tries in vain to contact Gordon, the producer, in Los Angeles, California. Unlike his fellow crewmembers, Joe is not surprised by Gordon’s abandonment of the project, and he advises the director to “start praying.” That evening at dinner, Friedrich tries to convince the cast and crew that the hiatus is a positive development. Later, Friedrich’s wife and scriptgirl, Kate, tape-records an audio letter to her family, and cast members Anna and Mark engage in an affair, while actress Joan practices her violin. Joe Corby leaves for Los Angeles to see his wife, who is near death following a series of strokes. Friedrich takes a walk to Gordon’s recently purchased mansion, and finds Dennis, the screenwriter, in one of the bedrooms. He falsely accuses Friedrich of hating Gordon, and shows the director a computer-generated graphic image, calling it “a piece of Gordon’s mind.” Dennis has suffered from insomnia since Gordon left Portugal, and doubts he will be able to complete the film. Meanwhile, Joe sits in a Lisbon barroom, chatting with the bartender as he awaits his flight, oblivious to Anna and fellow actor Robert, who are seated at a nearby table. That evening, Friedrich announces to the cast and crew that he will visit Gordon in Los Angeles over the weekend and expects to resume production the following Monday. Upon his arrival, Friedrich drives directly to Gordon’s office, but Bessy, the secretary, is unable to account for her boss’s absence. Friedrich drives to his lawyer’s office, unaware that a car is following him. The lawyer, who also represents Gordon, informs Friedrich that the producer is in hiding, and it may be dangerous for both of them if he is found. The director arranges a meeting with Karen, Dennis’s girl friend. She reveals that Dennis raised $200,000 to finance The Survivors and is unlikely to ever be reimbursed. During a visit with Joe Corby, Friedrich learns that a portion of the film’s budget was supplied by gangsters, who are now threatening Gordon’s life. Joe mentions his wife’s death, but appears to be unfazed by it. That evening, Friedrich sees Gordon at a drive-in restaurant and follows him to a mobile home parked nearby. As he enters, Herbert, the producer’s bodyguard, threatens Friedrich, but Gordon extends a warm greeting, and explains that he made four failed attempts to reach the director by telephone. The two men continue their discussion while Herbert drives them around the city. When Friedrich documents the moment with a small movie camera, Herbert becomes enraged, but Gordon jokes that his situation would make an excellent documentary for public television. The producer then reveals that he received $100,000 from a pair of loan sharks named Santoni and Stein. After viewing “dailies” from the film, both were disappointed by the black-and-white photography and absence of a discernible story line. Gordon regrets his decision to hire Friedrich, and concludes that both he and the director are insane for expecting The Survivors to be a success. He realizes that films need a story the way a house needs walls, and reminds the director that “cinema’s not about life going by.” Friedrich reflects on the filmmaking process, and concludes, “All stories are about death.” Gordon concurs. In the morning, they return to the restaurant parking lot, and as Gordon and Friedrich say goodbye, a gunshot hits Gordon in the back. Friedrich scans the area with his movie camera and is shot in the chest. His camera captures the image of the assassin’s car driving away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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