Asude: Hi Felix and Urs, we thank you again for giving us this oppurtunity. As edelkrone, we admire the work you are putting out there. To begin with our interview, lets start with something simple! Could you give us a little background on where you are from?
Felix: I was born in a small town called Nordhorn in the State Lower Saxony in Germany.
Urs: I was born in Hamburg, Germany.
A: Your company is also based in Germany, right? I wonder how did all this started and how did you get started with videography?
F: While I was growing up there was always some sort of video camera around. My dad documented many parts of my childhood on tape. Luckily, my parents were always very supportive of my interests, so it was no coincidence that I used the camera sometimes for playing around. Over the time, I started working on film related stuff more as a serious hobby when I was 14 or 15. Back then, I did mostly VFX-related post production. With the help of the internet, I collaborated with a bunch of friends in Bremen. They did mostly Fan-Fiction-Films and I was responsible for creating 3D animations. As time went on, I got more and more involved in the production process of those. By the time I left my hometown for studying business law, I already was more interested in creating things than reading law books. So, I switched to studying Communications and Design after 1 and a half years and moved to Hamburg. That was also the time when I met Urs. We walked to our Design-School on the first day and realised that we're in the same class. During this study, I worked more and more self employed in all disciplines: designing print products, doing Point of Sale solutions, Shooting Photos of People and Products. Then, there was the DSLR Revolution with the Canon 5D MarkII. I've sold all my Nikon Photography gear and switched to Canon to start shooting videos that have the same quality as my photos. By that time, Urs and I were asked to a Corporate-Movie for the School I've studied at. That was 2011. So I guess over time, we've learned mostly from the projects we've realised. First doing documentary projects for events, following brand building films and now working mostly as content producers for social media for food, product and business related projects.
A: That's so nice. And, how about you Urs?
U: Since I was a little boy I loved the movies – it was always a magic medium for me. During my education in Communication and Design, my class mate Felix and I started playing around with videography and suddenly produced the new image film for our school. We started learning by doing. At the first place, we had Nikon D90 and worked our way up. But, we had no education whatsoever in videography, only YouTube and a lot of passion.
A: Awesome. So, the Corporate-Movie for your Design-School was your first project as a team. Can we say that it was also the first video project you earned your first money? And, how did that project go?
U: Yes, it was the Corporate-Movie for our Design-School. We didn't quite get any money but we paid off our study fee with that job which was quite nice.
F: We didn't know much about producing a complete film. We collected lots of B-Roll footage and Interviews. We used a flipped table on carpet as a dolly / slider. The footage was then stitched together and forming somehow a complete film of 8 minutes – wow!
A: Working as a team necessitates mostly compromising. Would you say your videography styles sometimes differ? How would you describe them?
F: Although I would describe our videography style as pretty standard, we always try to do things out of the box and try not to look left and right so much. We try to be original, even if original means classic. We try not to adapt on trends that pop up in every second YouTube clip and get worn out quickly.
U: Also, since we have a lot of clients in different businesses, our videography style depends on the job as well. But, I would describe my style as clean and smooth. I love symmetry and smooth slides with a lot of tension. SliderPLUS is best!
A: I gotta say I love your Instagram account (@sqr.film). And, when I go through it, I see lots of BTS posts, your setup and filming location. Could you tell us what are the preparations you make before you begin filming?
U: Preparation is king. We always plan almost every shot and prepare as much as we can: check the gear, charge every battery, clarify the script with our client. We hate taking on a job unprepared.
F: Yes, we at SQUARE FILM try to work as organised as possible. Although we are a micro production company, we try to do everything the books says: writing a script, do shotlists, make checklists for the equipment we need. We also like to involve our clients as much as we can. For us, it is the most important thing that the client can relate to the story we'd like to tell.
A: These points make a very good advice for other videographers out there. So, what's the best advice you've ever been given?
U: Don't overthink things, just do them.
A: Nowadays, videographers have the opportunity to rent their filmmaking gears for different projects rather than purchasing. What about you? Do you prefer buying or renting your filmmaking equipment?
F: Both! Since we're located in the second largest town of Germany (Hamburg), we can get our hands on almost everything we want. Since we get everything on demand, we're able to keep our costs low, and can give a fair estimates for our clients. On the other hand, I think it is important to have your everyday tools close to you: owning a camera, lighting gear, stands, slider etc. These are obligatory for us. We also invest in new equipment if needed.
U: Depends. We love having our own camera, because you need to know your most important working equipment. But, on the other hand, we keep it simple and only own what we really need. It's amazing to rent your gear if you have a bigger production, for example lighting, but you do not have to take care of all the gear every day.
A: Let's talk a little bit about your social media project for Möve Bikes, which I adore. Those videos were so different from everyday bike commercials we see in terms of post-production as well. What software do you use for post-production?
F&U: We use the whole Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, cutting in Premiere, prepare Graphics in Illustrator and Photoshop, animate them in After Effects, do heavy 3D Post-Production in Cinema4d. We also work with a freelance colorist who works with Davinci Resolve.
A: As a team, who has clawed its way up to where you are now, what is the best piece of advice you could give to other filmmakers?
F: I would say, don't sell yourself under value and first and foremost get to know what your value is!
U: Don't care about the equipment you have, just shoot.
A: So, let's talk about more fun stuff. For example, what's the equipment you generally bring to a set?
U: At least two cameras, a Sony Alpha RII and Sony FS700, lighting and, most of the time, our edelkrone SliderPLUS and a Manfrotto tripod. The rest depends on the size of the production.
F: Apart from that, we always want to be well prepped so, we tend to bring a little more than needed. And, since SliderPLUS & Motion Kit is easy to setup, we love to relax and let the Motion Kit do the steady slides.
Technology should always be a tool to support creating a story not the other way around.
A: Speaking of easy setups, what do you think about the future of filmmaking with the technology advancing so fast?
U: It's amazing how easy it has become to create a film. If people keep on getting creative, everybody is able to shoot on every smartphone there is with not much else. And, since everything is getting smaller, for example, drones or electronic sliders, I believe there will be more high tech for small size filmmakers to come.
F: I love new technology and like to get my hands on it wherever I can. Although I find it difficult that everything is available for almost everyone who is able to pay for it without knowing what to do with it. Technology should always be a tool to support creating a story not the other way around.
A: Last but not least, what's your biggest ambition for the future?
F: Try to create more videos, for clients and ourselves. Video production is still a small part of our everyday business so, I would love to see this switch and let it be the main part in the near future.
U: Yes, we want to earn our living by running SQUARE FILM and doing what we love.
It was real fun chatting with you both! Thank you for your time!