Divina Insidia

Story meeting in Paris. Known internally as “The Paris Pitch”.

Going the extra mile: travelling along the Croisette during the Cannes Film Festival in a stretch limo purchased especially for the occasion

First draft of the storyboard

Production: B-Side Films GmbH

An insider thriller about the people behind the international financial crisis
Wicked and breathtaking

Making of

In the summer of 2012, hedge fund manager Adam Lemmer acquired the film rights to a novel by Pascal Roussel, a banker at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg: Divina Insidia: The Divine Trap. It tells the story of how the world’s powerful families form a cartel with the help of major banks in order to plunge society into chaos by means of escalating financial crises. Their aim is not to seize power, but to establish the rule of Satan, to whom they have secretly paid homage for thousands of years. Bankers as power-hungry Satanists. Roussel’s boss must have been delighted when he read the work.

The likeable little Hamburg production company B-Side Films was commissioned to develop the novel into a film ready for shooting and, ideally, to shoot it. I was invited to a screenplay pitch via equally winding paths and got to read the thing. It was one of the bumpiest pieces of literature I’ve ever read. A conspiracy theory disguised as a novel for lack of evidence and told in an incredibly clumsy way. Essentially, the work consists of three long lectures given by a powerful “insider” to a young journalist. As befits the genre, the great meta-conspiracy theory is laid out, from the Christian ban on interest to Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, 9/11, the UN, the Knights Templar, Rothschilds and Rockefellers, everything that has rank and name in the genre was represented. It was the ideal job for someone like me who is good at structuring and has already gone through the world of conspiracy theories up and down for other projects.

Friday I got the novel, Monday I had my concept ready, two days later I met Adam for the first time: in the courtyard of a fine hotel on Ku’damm. I was quite nervous, he was in a red velvet suit with an impressively large red business card that identified him as a member of the Maltese Knights Templar and various international financial firms, surrounded by a no less impressive entourage consisting of his wife, four children, two nannies, two drivers, a bodyguard and a lawyer. After almost two hours of him talking pointlessly about the sinister world of the great global conspiracy and me being able to provide the right cues, I had the job.

An incredible tour de force began: after we had received Roussel’s blessing, I had to turn the jumble of conspiracy theories into an exciting story within a very short space of time – after all, they wanted nothing more and nothing less than to develop an internationally marketable thriller. Adam had never made a film before – but he obviously had the necessary small change to manage the development and pre-production without public funding.

As soon as the first instalment was paid, he stepped on the gas. I had to deliver versions every three weeks. Three weeks for the synopsis, three weeks for the treatment, three weeks for the first script version. After three weeks of writing my fingers to the bone, no conference call was convened. No. We were convened. We were always called to wherever Adam was staying with his entourage to hold business meetings, naturally in the biggest hotel on the square.

The first version was produced at this high speed and was translated into English even faster, as they were looking for top directors on the international stage. After the first cancellations, however, this plan was dropped again and a German director with international experience was found, a second version was requested, again translated into English, as they were now looking for actors internationally. It gradually became clear that Adam would not be able to raise the budget, so an elaborate brochure and a sales trailer were created to raise finance.

Pre-production was in full swing, location scouting, casting and storyboarding were being prepared, when a bombshell hit our little group that brought the project to an immediate halt: Adam had been arrested by the Italian police in Malta on behalf of Interpol, who had been on his tail for months. Real money had flowed into the project, but this money came from shady financial transactions. Obviously, all the ominous companies he had pretended to run, the lawyers, authorised signatories, asset managers, the parties with prominent guests and the whole broad-minded appearance had just been a sham for a huge pyramid scheme that always needed new money to generate the non-existent profits of the previous participants. Even the Knights Templar of Malta could no longer help him.

The most real thing this system had produced was a fictitious script, which unfortunately never became a film. What a pity about the beautiful project. It was a wonderfully crazy, mad, bizarre time.

I will be happy to send you samples from the screenplay on request.