We’re wrapped and that’s the ‘wurst’ feeling!

Wrapping Up Production with BBS Wissen: A Journey of New Friends & International Collaboration

Hey there, fellow filmmakers, storytellers & curious clients!

Today, as I sit down to reflect on our latest project, I can’t help but feel a wave of bittersweet nostalgia washing over me. It’s been quite the journey — from our initial conversations a few years back (initiated by the wonderful Björn Rothenpieler during lockdown) about producing a little corporate video to showcase the incredible opportunities BBS Wissen offers to its students to filming in 2023, the moment of wrapping up our project with this fascinating client has unfortunately come.

As a filmmaker, I usually much look forward to the moment our clients say, “We love the video! That’s signed off now.” This time however, I cannot help but feel different, feel a certain level of sadness creeping in alongside.

“But why, Ben?” you might ask yourself and the answer is plain and simple – I had an incredible time working with BBS Wissen and bringing their vision to life. Rarely do you find a client so open to suggestions, so eager to learn about film production, so kind and caring about the work they do daily and so driven by the lives they inspire. I could go on about how great this college (or “Berufsbildende Schule” as its called in German) is but none of my words would be able to encapsulate the feeling that is so very present as soon as you walk through the doors of BBS Wissen where everybody is welcome.

I remember those early days of our collaboration quite vividly — zoom calls, masked-up meetings, an amalgamation of English-German conversations with an incredible marketing team and a world still grappling with the challenges of the Covid pandemic. Despite the hurdles and delays, despite my sometimes rather ‘rusty’ German, despite the fact that there’s been over 700 miles (or over 1,100 kilometers) between our client and us, everyone’s commitment to bringing this project to life never wavered.

The college’s motto is “Diversity is welcomed!” – a motto the marketing team pointed out to me quite early on into our collaboration. When I first heard it I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s a unique motto. It’s a bold motto. It’s a motto that’s so big and brave to put out there that it would be quite easy to miss the mark when it comes to its application. But when speaking with the marketing team, I encountered very established educational experts who reassured me that this very motto was omnipresent at their college and that it would have to be at the core of the corporate film. As I trust our clients – at the end of the day they know their ‘business’ best – we decided to find the story around this wonderful motto and use a documentary style approach as our form of storytelling. And so our journey began.

During pre production we had the opportunity to visit the college – in the middle of a cold German winter with minus degrees (something we’re not that used to in the UK). We just about missed the snow and the carnival season (‘Karneval’ is huge in Germany, especially in Wissen which is a small town about 50 miles from Cologne – that’s Germany’s equivalent to New Orleans during Mardi Gras) but we already got a feeling for how amicable everyone was in this outstanding educational establishment.

Fast forward to May 2023, and I finally found myself on location with the incredible team at BBS Wissen, ready to capture their story on camera. By the way, did I mention that just getting there was a mini drama in itself?

In order to meet the production budget, I had agreed to stay with family during the first shoot week. To cover all eventualities (yep, we’re aware that illness can still jeopardise travel arrangements), we even booked the flexi ferry. And what happened? 5 minutes after checking into my room on the P&O Ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, I received a notification that the family members I was going to stay with had just *drumroll please* tested positive for Covid! What a bummer! With no accommodation (nor access to fast internet) I quickly had to organise a place to stay for the week. Spoiler alert: I managed to find somewhere and it all worked out for the better in the end.

After the initial obstacles were overcome, filming could begin and what can I say but the shooting week was nothing short of unforgettable! From heartfelt interviews to capturing the vibrant energy of the college campus, every moment was infused with passion, joy and enthusiasm. Working alongside such a dedicated group of individuals was truly inspiring, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of their journey. The truly remarkable thing – and most likely the biggest contributor to my bitter-sweet emotions as this project comes to its end – was that I got to experience the college motto first hand. Despite my broken German, despite me working as a one man band on this project, despite my drive to perfect shots and being a total stranger to most people I met during the week, I was welcomed from the minute I walked through the doors of this amazing institution and, more so, I was met with a huge amount of respect.

So what can I say but at BBS Wissen, “Diversity is welcomed!” isn’t just a fancy slogan – it is what everyone lives and breathes. It’s the very fabric of this wonderful college. It’s something so utterly beautiful and empowering that I wish I had gone to this college myself, growing up as a diverse student in rural Germany!

But our story doesn’t end there. In December 2023, after much anticipation, we returned to BBS Wissen to capture some final interviews and B-roll footage. With a new principal at the helm, it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the college’s ongoing evolution and commitment to excellence.

For those who like some stats, we

  • captured 2TB of material
  • delivered a long (4 min) and short (2 min) version of the corporate film
  • created 100+ student soundbites & graphics for social media
  • created platform specific CTA graphics for Youtube, Facebook and Instagram
  • made sure we delivered separate versions in Full HD and 4k

As we bid farewell to BBS Wissen, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in what we’ve accomplished with this client. Our journey tells the story of a powerful international collaboration that overcame a changed trade landscape post BREXIT, language barriers, geographical distances and tight filming schedules. It’s also a story that reminds us that when we unite, respect & learn from each other, our collaborations forge incredible friendships (yes, I still WhatsApp the marketing team regularly) and bring results that speak for themselves (the final version of the corporate film proved a real hit with both students and staff).

To everyone at BBS Wissen whom I had the pleasure of working with — I speak from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of everyone at Schwartz Patrick Media when I say,

“Thank you for your dedication, trust, creativity, unwavering spirit and kindness. It’s been an absolute honour to drive this project and I look forward to the day when we get to work together again. Until then, take care – macht’s gut und bis bald!”

Ben Schwartz

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