The challenges of a production manager
Ole Wilken shares what he has learned in the role of production manager, and how a collaborative relationship with ARRI Rental aided his latest project.
How did you come into the career you have in the film industry?
While studying cultural sciences at university, I worked on films and at film festivals in various jobs to gain some practical cultural and commercial experience. Eventually the moment arrived when movies were no longer just a hobby and I had the bug. I have been working mainly as an executive producer and production manager since 2012.
What is your most recent project, and what were your responsibilities?
It’s THE FAMOUS FIVE AND THE VALLEY OF DINOSAURS, a German family movie. On that franchise, with SamFilm and Mike Marzuk, you have the big advantage of being part of a great film family and an established team that already works together like a well-oiled machine. So the communication and collaboration with everyone is very direct and personal, and thus highly efficient. For the production manager, who has to keep a good grip on all the various reins throughout the preparation phase, into the filming, and through to postproduction, that makes the job much easier; it gives you the opportunity to get involved early on and have an influence in many areas. On this film I was involved everywhere, from the funding submission through to postproduction—predominantly in a calculatory capacity.
What were the biggest challenges for you during the preparation and shooting?
The special challenges of filming with children and animals pretty much speak for themselves, but SamFilm and Mike Marzuk are well versed in precisely that kind of work. We also had many outdoor shots in the Saxon and Franconian Switzerland regions of Germany, so that was an additional challenge for the team, the logistics and the equipment. Of course, when it came to the equipment we had an expert and highly aware partner at our side in the form of ARRI Rental, with whom we could discuss the circumstances and sound out the technical possibilities right from the word go.
Could you describe your main considerations when preparing for a film project with regard to the rental company you intend to source your technology and services from?
Every preproduction phase begins with the script. From it, the first parameters for the film's production can be derived. Whenever I get a script to read, I'm always full of anticipation about what challenges it will bring with it for the production. That is the fascinating thing about making movies: you never finish learning new things; you're always confronted with uncharted territory, every time. That's why you're not really in danger of just churning through the same old motions, because every new production has its own unique challenges. And they all play their part in influencing your choice of service providers, partners and team members: which portfolio, what history of experience is right for the script and the shoot, the prerequisites and challenges? In general I'm a fan of using comprehensive packages from one provider when it comes to equipment. So if you can gain the technical quality and the expert, end-to-end service of ARRI Rental for a project, that's a big step in the right direction and one less concern.
Are there any scenes from the movie that stood out for you?
The moment when the Famous Five discover the dinosaur skeleton in the cave is a real highlight in the story and a fascinating motif, despite all the pressures that filming in a cave brings for everyone. It is precisely these shoots where it is so key that all of the cogs in the machine interact smoothly and bring their top performance. And that is exactly what you will see: a great setting, beautifully staged, lit and shot.
How well did ARRI Rental look after you during the shoot?
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that ARRI Rental was the ideal partner for us on THE FAMOUS FIVE AND THE VALLEY OF DINOSAURS. That is the result of many years of collaboration between SamFilm and ARRI Rental, based on mutual trust, reliable agreements and constant communication. I'm really happy to have this opportunity to express our gratitude for the outstanding support they gave us on this shoot. I look forward to what else the future will bring.
THE FAMOUS FIVE AND THE VALLEY OF DINOSAURS is out in German cinemas from 15 March 2018