Moving to Berlin on a DAAD grant - a six month matter for filmmakers with no anticipation or requirement that one make anything - I moved quickly to figure out the scene and lined up funding from SFB, the local TV station. It was part of a package of short films made by various other Berlin-based filmmakers, to do shorts. The budget was $30,000 or so, but with the unhappy kicker that by the time all was signed and done, there were only 3 weeks available to shoot and deliver the film. I decided the constricted circumstances required something drastic, and cooked up an essay idea which could be 30 minutes long (maximum they would allow) or a short feature, which I wanted. My version came in at 70 minutes, all within the budget.

The entire work was shot inside a small completely blacked out marionette theater, with overhead theatrical lights. The first part of the film was fully worked out, and executed in 2 days; the next 4 days were improvised, around a cabaret structure, though Shaun Lawton and I had worked up a few written sequences. For me there was a clear and deliberate intention to place the actors in a condition of stress, locked up in the small claustrophobic space, with minimal guidance, and see what happened. I knew however what my final sequence was, and looked only to secure material which would lead properly up to it. The actors all came from quite differing schools - Shaun from English theater, ----- from Vienna, - from a minimal bit of German training. Aside from Shaun they were unaccustomed to improvising or having to invent on their own, which shows in the final work as there is a kind of interior conflict and breakdown: when …. Breaks down crying it was she had in reality begun to cry, not as acting, but because she was stressed out with confusion. The tensions which the circumstance of the shooting produced were anticipated and expected, and played directly into the somewhat grim actual content of the work.

Filming was all done in 6 days, with the exception of the technical shot of the pie in the face, done with a scientific rotating prism camera, at 6,000 fps. The edit, mix and printing were done in the following 2 weeks and the work was delivered on time, and well in budget.

Formerly favorable critics, anticipating a step into Hollywood from Chameleon responded largely with bafflement or negativity. The SFB producer however was happy with his 30 minute version, and I later completed the post-production on my 70 minute one.