Directed by Reto Caduff and Conny's son Stephan Plank, the documentary looks at the heritage of the producer and sound engineer behind 1970s krautrock, 1980s neue deutsche welle, and much more
Conny Plank: The Potential Of Noise goes on release in September. Directed by Reto Caduff and Stephan Plank, the feature length documentary traces the history of Stephan’s father Conny through the viewpoint of the artists he worked with. It also examines the legacy the West German producer, sound engineer and musician left behind following his death at the age of 47. Ranging across progressive, avant garde, electronic and krautrock, Plank worked with artists such as Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Guru Guru, La Düsseldorf, Gianna Nannini, Michael Rother, Eurythmics, Les Ritas Mitsuko, Ultravox, and many others. He was also a regular collaborator with Cluster’s Dieter Moebius. Born Konrad Plank in Hütschenhausen in 1940, Conny died of cancer in 1987, leaving behind his wife, the actor Christa Fast, and son Stephan, then aged 13.
“I discovered his work in the early 80s when albums by Eurythmics or Ultravox, Les Ritas Mitsouko, Freur or by German new wave acts such as Ideal, Rheingold or DAF had the Conny Plank credit on the cover,” comments Reto Caduff via email. “Little did I know at that time of his earlier influence: that he brought Kraftwerk to the recording studio for the first time, that he was working with the band up to their “Autobahn” hit, and all his contribution to the krautrock genre and early electronic music. I only discovered really Neu! when the albums were reissued in the early 2000s. He really was a pioneer and his untimely death at 47 in 1987 only added to the legend.
“As a film maker I am very much interested in these kind of influential people who somehow never got the credit they deserved outside the cognoscenti. So out of my personal interest in the man I contacted his son Stephan Plank, who told me that he was already working on a film about his dad,” Caduff continues. “I wished him the best of luck with it but he suggested we meet and talk about a possible collaboration. We met in Berlin and quickly found a lot of common ground (my dad died in 1988, aged 49), so there was a connection beyond the music.
“To me, the idea of co-directing the film made a lot of sense since Stephan could approach the artists whom he met as a kid in the studio (his home) differently than a regular documentary director. My hunch proved correct over and over again. Meeting the artists brought the memories and stories to a complete different level and enabled us to paint a very unique picture of this extraordinary artist behind the mixing desk. I also felt the timing was right since a lot of the people were still active.
“I hope we made a film that appeals to the fans who grew up with his music as much as to a younger generation interested in the genesis of electronic music,” he concludes.
In 2013, Grönland released Who's That Man: A Tribute To Conny Plank, a boxset featuring tracks Plank had engineered for Brian Eno, Psychotic Tanks, Fritz Müller and many others, a CD of Plank, Dieter Möbius & Arno Steffen performing live in Mexico in 1986, and a selection of remixes by Jens-Uwe Beyer, Phew, and others.
Conny Plank: The Potential Of Noise will be released in both German and English language in September 2017