IWC – EMPLOYMENT BRANDING
This project took a long time to become a reality. Due to the pandemic, it almost seemed like it wouldn’t even happen. Then one day we were on set with a fantastic team.
I see a lot of employment branding films and it hardly ever feels authentic. So we knew we were up for a challenge. We wanted to create something that stands out but not in a stand-out-way kind. Subtle and sensitive, while transporting a human message.
IWC is a big player within the watch industry. There are only a handful of watch companies that are from the German speaking part of Switzerland, most come from the French-swiss side. Watch towns are mostly located in smaller cities so it was important to communicate that to the employees and to not set false expectations. The great thing about Schaffhausen where IWC is located is that it’s only a 30 minute train ride from Zurich. These where amongst some of the points we had to bring across into a seamless matter.
The filming dates kept getting postponed day after day which made it difficult to get a crew together. Light, sound camera, wardrobe, makeup, and basically every other department, required diligent planning so that the team really work great together. However, eventually things started coming together and we had a winning team.
We worked with non-professional talents in the film and so none of them had ever been in-front of the camera. This is always an interesting challenge for a director to get the best out of them. The key is to give them confidence to help them speak and act naturally. Sometimes we rolled camera while the talent still thought they are practicing their lines and we got the best performances. Another issue was that our filming locations were filled with very expensive watches scattered all over the place all – this coupled with security, smoke machines and normal 9 to 5 office hours slowed our unhealthy obsession down a lot.
With a relatively large crew we were constantly on the move – due to the need for flexibility, we decided to shoot everything on a gimbal. Not a single shot was on a tripod, dolly or drone. One camera for everything. We decided to shoot everything from a Red Helium 8k camera. A lot of lenses were tested for this project. It started with anamorphics but since we were always in limited areas and confined spaces it did not feel like it had enough depth of field. Additionally, it was just too wide which usually ends up with some unwanted elements in shot. Older Cooke lenses had too much of a look and the classic Cooke S7 did not have enough depth of field. Zeiss Masterprime wide open were an option but wide open it often ends up being too soft.
The goal was to have something with a sharp look but still with a soft feel to it and with a shallow depth of field. Then the guys at Eberle talked about trying some of the full frame lenses. A full frame lens on a 35mm camera is definitely not very common. But when I tried the Zeiss Supreme Primes I knew we had an interesting combination. We had the budget for 3 of the Supreme Primes, but I couldn’t resist a fourth. We took the 21mm, 35mm, 65mm and 100mm. It really was a fantastic combination for this specific project. With a wonderfully shallow depth of field but unreal sharpness where it’s in focus. This combination between sharp and soft was something quite special. I have to give a lot of credit to Sven Emmeger, our First AC, for keeping focus while being constantly on the move. Let’s just say, focus was never the reason for why we had to repeat takes.
On our last shooting day the sky turned orange. Yes the Sahara decided to colour our skies and throw sand all over little Switzerland. The funny thing is normally our light department picks daylight HMI light to compensate the inside when shooting looking towards the sunlight. But on this specific day it was really the other way around. We had orange tungsten skies with beautiful blue daylight inside. This was simply surreal but as I always believe everything happens for a reason and in the edit it kind of worked out just great. It created a special interesting look that everybody loved.
Another great lesson learned during this film project was in the sound studio. Sound design is the bread and butter of a good film. All sound recordings took place at the « Department of Noise » sound studio. Philipp Schweidler, our sound engineer and composer, had the talent sitting down during recordings which is unusual as the talent usually stands for their performance. At first I had my doubts about this method but mostly just because it was unfamiliar – however it quickly became apparent that there was a sensibility that came across in the recordings which was refreshing. After rehearsing with the talent a few times we could get really specific and started focusing on the details. This attention to detail was what separated this project from the others. We had the luxury of going into every detail and this paid off in the end. Just simple things such as having the talent talk with a slight smile on their face made it feel inviting and it just felt friendly.
The post production went pretty fast and the IWC CEO approved the project even after the first rough cut. That’s rare but felt great. A big thanks to Peter Trüb of KLAR Agency for believing in OTAKUS. It was an amazing opportunity to be part of this.
Client: IWC Schaffhausen
Story: Peter Trüb & Lionel Buttner
Executive Producer: Peter Trüb
Talents: Virgine, Walter, Emily, Gaulle, Tim, Thomas, Sussanne, Alex
Assistant Producer: Niklas Burn
Software: Paul-Emile Joëssel
1st AC: Sven Emmenegger
Gaffers: Jacob Muller
Electrician: Benjamin Martin
Runner: Nicholas Beyeler
Make-up: Sarah Ciarrocchi
Stylist: Daniela Correia
Photography: Karin Heer
Soundstudio: Department of Noise
Soundmix: Philipp Schweidler
Creative Director: Lionel Buttner
Copywriter: Peter Trüb
Account Manager: Christian Dietrich
Camera Rental: Eberle Filmequipment Zürich
Light and Grip: FTK Zürich
Post Production: OTAKUS
Director: Xaver Walser