The authors group dogfilm existed from 1991 - 1999. The five members were Bettina Ellerkamp, Jörg Heitmann, Merle Kröger, Ed van Megen and Philip Scheffner. We finished our studies in different sections such as audiovisual communications, psychology, fine arts, science of film and journalism. From 1990 - 1995 all members of dogfilm worked simultaneously for the interdiscplinary association Botschaft e. V. in Berlin-Mitte, from which many cultural events and common projects have been realized.
As a group of authors we have been working together regularly on video and television productions. During a regular two year work for a German television magazine for politics, satire and arts we have developed our own style in monthly broadcasted video features. This style shifted between video art and documentary, compilation and arrangements. We usually worked with self-produced material and found footage out of archives. By using a very associative postproduction we composed essays without voice over, in which e. g. interviews and experimental sequences were webbed together in terms of form and content. During our participation in the magazine “Z” we have worked together with other journalists and filmmakers on subjects which mostly dealt with certain political or sociocultural events or conditions. Therefore our work was not necessarily bound to actuality but nevertheless not to be seperated from the contemporary history that surrounded us. In the “magazine years” we have produced up to 25 videos between one and seven minutes length. Resulting from the wish to work on longer videos in 1995 we said goodbye to the magazine for the time being. We started to produce documentaries for different stations such as ZDF (Das kleine Fernsehspiel), Kanal 4 (Documentary) and ARTE (Thematic Evenings) and further did some independent productions which have not been made for television broadcasting but for other kinds of distribution. We tried to transfer and extend the experiences we collected in our short films into the videos we realized between 25 and 60 minutes length. Our own position or point of view was again created without using narration, but through an own visual language, which was expressed as much in the recording of images as during postproduction. Within one year we realized the videos “Juristic Bodies” (Heitmann/ Scheffner), “Try to Survive till 2005” (Ellerkamp), “The Making of… Internet” (van Megen/ Zeyfang) and “Out of Body” (Ellerkamp/ Kröger).
Invited by the department ZDF (Das kleine Fernsehspiel)/ ARTE we were able to realize an idea in 1996/97 which first had appeared in 1994 by working on the short video “Soap”. A thematic evening for ARTE with the title “Life Is A Soap Opera” came into being, a more than three hours running programme, in which we tried on different levels of form and content to have a look into the phenomenon of soap opera in it’s cultural, but also it’s political and social meaning. In several videos of the programme we were able to combine all our former techniques and even add some new possibilities of video work. In 1998/99 Tina Ellerkamp and Jörg Heitmann created another work for ZDF/ Das kleine Fernsehspiel, entitled “killer. berlin.doc”. A documentary about a fictionalized situation: 10 people play a game in Berlin, in which they become pursuers who are being followed themselves at the same time. “killer. berlin.doc” was produced as a video and then transferred to 35-mm film - the first dogfilm production which gathered international resonance as a movie. Again in collaboration with ZDF/ ARTE 1998/ 1999 we developed a concept for the thematic programme “No Human is illegal”. The aim was to create a fictional, utopian space in TV for four and a half hours, in which Eurpeans with and without a legal residential permit could speak equally. In this context the two documentaries “Planeta Alemania” and “With Foreign Help” were realized by Merle Kröger, Ed van Megen and Philip Scheffner. As the last of our common dogfilm productions we developed the pilot for a media magazine, entitled “workstation” in 1999 for the TV-workshop “quantum”/ 3Sat. Five episodes from the electronic every day life, again on the border between documentary and experimental video art, were bound together by a fictional framework: On Jan.1st, 2000 a group of people gathers around a campfire in the middle of the city, to tell each other stories about the “electronical everyday life”.
At Dec. 31st, 1999 after more than eight years of collective work we shut the “dogfilm” chapter to search for new fields of work, to develop new constellations and structures…