Night Train Moves Into Non-Fiction with 'Missile from the East' (Exclusive)

Night Train Media

'Missile from the East' looks at East German motorcycle racer and Cold War escapee Ernst Denger

German TV group Night Train Media expands into non-fiction production with first documentary feature, 'Missile from the East' with 'McQueen' producers Salon Pictures. 

Night Train Media, the television production and sales group launched by German executive Herbert L. Kloiber last year, is expanding into high-end documentaries, launching its factual slate with the feature documentary Missile from the East with U.K.-based Salon Pictures, producers of 2018 doc McQueen on the late British fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. 

Missile from the East follows the true story of Ernst Degner, a champion East German motorcycle racer who risked his and his family's life to escape from behind the Iron Curtain, taking ground-breaking engine technology with him that helped Japanese manufacturer Suzuki win its first Grand Prix championship. 

Justin Stokes is directing Missile from the East, which begins production Tuesday. Night Train Media is producing together with Salon. Abacus Media Rights will distribute the doc internationally. Stokes will produce a 90-minute and 52-minute feature on Degner as well as a 2x45-minute version for international buyers. 

Sky UK has commissioned the documentary, which Mike Wells of HLA productions will produce, together with Salon's Nick Taussig. Kloiber and Night Train Media's  Olivia Pahl will serve as executive producers. 

"When Mike brought us this story, we were immediately driven to try and help him make it, not least because of the quality of material he’d already captured with Justin, and his long and exceptional background in commercials, running HLA in London," said Taussig. "The story has great stakes and scale, and, set in a seminal moment in Cold War history, lends itself perfectly to a feature-length documentary." 

Missile from the East marks a move into factual programming for Night Train Media (NTM), which launched last year as a boutique production and sales outfit, focusing on high-end international TV drama. The Munich-based company, backed by the Serafin investment group, has a co-development and co-production deal with Scandinavian pay-TV outfit Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) and is set to begin production on several drama series later this year. 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Kloiber said NTM will be looking to find synergies between its documentary and drama businesses. While "worldwide demand for distinctive local and international documentaries has never been greater," notes Kloiber, he said NTM is particularly interested in high-end docs with add-on potential as dramatic adaptations. The company has fictional adaptation rights for the Missile from the East story, which Kloiber calls "Rush meets Bridge of Spies." 

Night Train Media has hired former StudioCanal TV executive Olivia Pahl as its head of development and co-production.

NTM's drama slate includes a TV adaptation of The Ex-Wife, based on the psychological thriller novel from writer Jess Ryder, which the company is making together with UK-based BlackBox Multimedia, and Veil, a female-driven augmented reality drama, a co-production with NENT Group, Starlings Television, and Canada's Mediabiz International.