Meet the globetrotting couple recreating iconic movie scenes at various filming locations

It was in 2014 while thinking about their next vacation that Robin (33 years old) and Judith​ Lachhein (32 years old) decided to visit a location — a thought that immediately excited them. But little did they know then that their vacation would lead them to visit many such sites in the future, and would also sow the seeds for their “Secret Famous Places” project, which has 59.6,000 subscribers (and growing) on Instagram. Guided by their love of travel, the duo visit such locations and recreate scenes whose results are nothing short of spectacular and executed to perfection. Over the years they have recreated scenes from various movies and seriesincluding game of thrones, Spider Man, Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Forrest Gump, and also the 1963 film, Charade.

In exclusive interaction with indianexpress.comRobin, a mechanical engineer, and Judith, a journalist, talk more about their successful project, the challenges they encountered and overcame over the years, the idea behind ‘Secret Famous Places’, which won over many hearts including that of celebrities, and also reveal if a Bollywood movie will ever be on his list of movie/series scenes to recreate. Read on to find out more.

What led to the conceptualization of “secret famous places” and when did it start?

​It all started in 2014 when we were thinking about where we could go for our next vacation while sitting in a very nice spot overlooking the river – 2 hours drive from our house. We also couldn’t decide on a destination – mountains or the beaches – we also didn’t have too much money at the time since we were still students when one of us offered to visit a filming location, and the other immediately got excited ! But then we thought about how we could convince people that the place is an actual location in the movie, then we had other ideas and decided to be ourselves in the photos wearing the costumes making sure they’re shot from the right angle – just like in the movie. But we didn’t expect this idea to work; we built it step by step just to test if it works. The first picture we took was in Prague, Czech Republic – of Impossible mission – and that’s how it worked and launched “Secret Famous Places”.

The first photo we posted on Instagram was only in 2018, as the original plan was to have the photos for us as souvenirs from our travels. But when our families and friends saw the photos, they got excited and motivated us to share the photos on social media.

​How has the process evolved over the years? What are the things you try to incorporate and eliminate?

The process, over the years, has changed little – we’ve upgraded our equipment (just the software). At first we had to run from our camera, often multiple times, to the final position because the camera timer only gave us 10 seconds before the image was clicked. Even today, we click on our own images. Now we have software that allows us to set a timer of our choice so that we can improve the photo taking process. Other than that, it’s almost the same – focus on film, still image and find the filming location, clothes etc. Over the years we tried to make movies and even podcasts but found that was too much because we had certain time constraints (given our jobs). And in the end, when we’re on a place, we just want to have fun and not be stressed.

How long does it take both of you to recreate the same thing? As such, what do you consider your most difficult scene to date, and why?

It depends on the location and the movie or series we are working on. We actually put in a lot of work before we get to the location, this includes finding the clothes and figuring out the exact coordinates of the location, which can sometimes take hours (to find the exact location) – this can so take anywhere between one to four days. For example, we tried to find a location in Austria, which we have not been able to do for two or three days; so sometimes we fail to find the location, and most of the time it doesn’t materialize, so we don’t even visit the location. But once there, we have about 30 minutes to 2 hours for each scene. But sometimes we have less time, like the sun has gone down, the weather is bad, it’s crowded, or we don’t have as much time as we would like due to the popularity of the place. .

As for the most difficult scene, it will depend on who you ask. For Robin, it was like shooting a scene from Emma and Louisa at National Park; it was incredibly hot – around 42-45 degrees Celsius – and I felt really uncomfortable wearing police gear in the United States. It was very stressful for me. But other than that it was very comfortable as there was no one around looking at us. For Judith, it was a scene of star wars because there were so many people watching us. But I would say I was also a challenge to do the scene for Tenet, where we had to book a boat that we were trying to attach a camera to — and it really wasn’t easy. It depends on the image or the scene, but also on the clothes we wear, the crowd, the weather and the general atmosphere in general, so it varies from very easy to very difficult.

On what basis is a film, and a scene, decided? After that, what does the process entail – finding the exact location, perfecting outfits and emotions/expressions, finally clicking the picture?

Our first criterion is that we must like the scene (and the film). Also, it is of utmost importance that the actors are visible from a good point of view, in the best case, both male and female, and then you need to identify a good background, so that people can understand that we went to the exact spot, instead of it being just in the background. Robin, for the most part, will first check if it is possible to visit the exact location – from finding the exact GPS coordinates, which is easier in cities than in complicated landscapes and can take a few minutes to a whole day. Once we have that, we plan the trip. Next comes the outfit, for which we raid our own closets first, because we don’t want to buy new clothes every time. If we don’t, we reach out to family or friends. For example, if we ever need a tie, we always ask Judith’s father because he has several in many colors. But if they don’t have photo-appropriate clothes either, we visit a second-hand clothing store and look for costumes there. Once we have everything with us, we head to the scene to finally recreate the scene and take the picture.

There are places where you need special permits to take pictures/click. What do you do in such cases, or choose to stay away from shooting in such places?

First, we are looking for beautiful pictures of the series/movie we are planning to shoot, then find the exact location. During our research, if we realize that we need special permits to visit a place, we work on it beforehand because it can take a long time. It also gives us time to check if filming in a particular location won’t work, and therefore move on. But when it comes to asking permission, the only thing that works is talking to people with eye contact – like, when we’re in one place, we show people our previous work so they realize that we are here just to click on an image. But, in one case, when we wanted to take a picture in a restaurant in Spain, they just refused. So that’s one of the reasons why we can fail.

Did you monetize the project?

To date, we have no sponsors. It’s just a hobby that we use ours for money to travel or take pictures.

Tell us about yourself — personal and professional?

I am (Robin) a mechanical engineer and Judith is a journalist do we have normal jobs where we earn money. In Germany it is common to have 30 days of paid vacation, which we use for traveling and taking pictures. It’s also why we often try to reuse outfits or modify things we already have to save money for things we can’t get cheaper, like plane tickets.

Yes, many people think it is a very expensive hobby, but traveling is also expensive for everyone. But what we do is combine our vacation with the hobby — taking pictures, wearing borrowed clothes; so it’s not as expensive as everyone thinks. But the advantage of being in Europe is that you can drive in many countries – Switzerland, Italy, France, Denmark, which is much cheaper than the plane.

Although you have shot many movie scenes on various occasions, you have yet to recreate your magic with a Bollywood movie. Do you plan to add an Indian language film to your list?

That’s a very good question. But our answer may make you want to give up – we’ve never seen a Bollywood movie until now! Honestly, we don’t even know where we can see one. Maybe you can send us a really good one with lots of good scenes that we can recreate. It would be a great way to plan a trip to India.

What are you working on at the moment? When can we expect the next post on your Instagram page?

Judith: Nothing planned for the moment, but in my head I planned a trip to Austria to shoot a scene from a james bond film, for which we need snow. So maybe this winter it becomes real. But then we share a lot of photos that we have already clicked on from our previous trips.

You’ve also received great feedback from some celebrities – how does that feel to you? What is the ultimate goal of the project?

When conceptualizing a shoot, we feel really energized when everything works – the location, the props, and the clothes. The second step comes when we decide to post the photos (which we do with details), and the next big motivator is our followers’ comments. And when a celebrity comments, our happiness knows no bounds. Like when Tom Cullen commented on our photos, we couldn’t believe it since we were a very small account. It is a very special and private memory for us. I could get used to it. We are very proud of what we have built with our idea.

The ultimate goal is to recreate certain scenes from how I Met Your Mother and The The Big Bang Theory, which are simply not easy. And also to visit each continent – and click on some images – over the years.

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Andrea G. Henderson