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Finding ‘The Sweetspot’ of Production in Hamburg


The Sweetspot’s Daniel Kottirsch on how he and Felix Antretter co-founded a production company which finds an effective balance, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Finding ‘The Sweetspot’ of Production in Hamburg

Hamburg-based creative studio and production company The Sweetspot was formed in 2017 and since its creation, the company has set out to ‘break the boundaries of the commercial industry’. By creating unique pieces of art, they combine both passion and personality to craft ideas for clients. 

Speaking to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani is co-founder Daniel Kottirsch, who shares what it was like to create the company with co-founder Felix Antretter while they were still studying, and shares what made them want to create a space of their own, as well as some of the creative work which inspired them. 

LBB> When did The Sweetspot first come to fruition?

Daniel> We founded The Sweetspot in 2017 while still studying film and photography in Nuremberg, Germany. Felix and I met for the first time just a year before and quickly became best friends. Founding the company happened basically because of an opportunity we got for doing an actual commercial for German IT service provider DATEV in cooperation with our university. The film was played out in German cinemas right before the blockbuster program. How excited we were when our film popped up right before the screening of ‘Blade Runner 2049’! 

After our studies in Nuremberg, we were accepted at the renowned Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg for advertising production in 2018. We got the chance to connect with the most amazing people there and create films like LEVI's – 'Yourself', 'REVIVED', ‘OATLY - Made for Hoomans’ and ‘Born Guilty, which all got attention at major festivals (Young Directors, ADC, DWP, New York Advertising, Berlin Commercial, Clio, etc.). 

After getting our degrees in 2021, we moved to Hamburg, which is where we are today.

LBB> Can you tell us about the goal you had when you started? What did you want to create that was different to what’s already out there?

Daniel> After we got a glimpse of how the industry/production companies were doing their thing, we started to realise that we wanted to do things differently. It started with small things like ‘How do we treat a request, no matter if it’s an agency, a client, a freelancer or anybody else?’ or ‘What can be done to do something which is not good, but great and outstanding?’

We centred our goals not on just producing cool-looking films (which we of course still loved to do), but instead, we got stuck into how to create the best possible outcomes for our clients.

We were amazed by the films like Solomon Lighthelms ‘I Am You’ (S7 Airlines) and Gustav Johansson’s ‘Moments’ (for Volvo), but we wanted to create a brand or a place, where people get exactly what they want – maybe without them even knowing what that could be. That’s how we landed on the name: ‘The Sweetspot’: a place where a combination of factors results in a maximum response for a given amount of effort.

LBB> You mention how you want to ‘break the boundaries of the commercial industries’, what does that mean to you and how is it embedded in your ethos?

Daniel> Since diving into the industry, we have become aware again and again of how intangibly it celebrates itself the most. This doesn’t just concern the production companies, but all advertisers. Perhaps as satisfaction for one's own conscience, since one happens to be in the service of capitalism, at least in most cases. But maybe also because many people out there prefer to see advertising through an ad blocker, i.e. not at all. 

Advertising, therefore, seems like a fixed bubble that floats alone in the world. And this is exactly where we would like to start: Why not burst the bubble and bring the apparent opposites together? Why not try to create unique pieces of art and entertainment while not breaking ties with the product, the brand, or the viewer? This is no question of budget (which is never enough), but more of how you approach every single project. Don´t do what´s expected or what your experience tells you to. More importantly, think about what your counterpart is really looking for (maybe without him even knowing) and use this as a basis for what you can do to achieve this goal.

Relying on an agile approach for every single project is of huge importance to us. This also means that we’re eager to support our clients long before the usual pitch process. Especially with agencies’ consulting/creative teams, we found out that so much can come to fruition if you start talking early on. Agencies put so much time and effort into their campaigns, and their scripts that sometimes the actual production part can become a ‘blind spot’. We then help the agencies to get back on track and find the sweet spot.

LBB> What was the main challenge you faced when breaking into the industry? How did you overcome it?

Daniel> I can break it down into three parts:

  • Getting the attention of agencies
Meeting a lot of people, all the time. Getting introduction calls with the agency producers/creatives.

  • Creating your own profile 
This is still an ongoing process. It's always a challenge on pitch requests how you want to position yourself. While we want to push to get the most out of the creative of the project, in the end, we want and need to win jobs. So playing safe is something to consider as well.

  • Being taken seriously as a production company
[This is] probably the most difficult one. This came with time and the number of projects we had, but was also defined by the communication we use to represent ourselves (on our website, socials and at our talks). We’ve always emphasised our quality standards and that we´re not here to further dump prices.

LBB> Tell us about some of the campaigns that have paved the way for you so far.

Daniel> Our first major pitch has been for the film/photo campaign with la red Berlin for Jägermeister. Since we were aware of Jägermeister's previous campaigns and its high creative level, we decided to pitch with an experienced director (Nina Aaldering) and photographer (Murat Aslan), which surely helped us win the job in the end. What you probably don´t see is that our cast also pursues the professions portrayed in the film in real life.

With ‘History of Attacks’, we had our first major production abroad together with director Oliver Bernotat and Jung von Matt NEXT ALSTER. Producing and shooting in Georgia was amazing, it´s a great country with a growing production infrastructure. It was a perfect fit for the project, since we needed to get those different locations.

A more recent project has been ‘The sound of innovation’ with Scholz & Friends for Mercedes-Benz Trucks. We only had two weeks from the job’s go until shooting. We decided to work with on-set motion graphics, which meant that they had to be prepared and agreed upon upfront. Luckily we could use our in-house post producer who joined our team shortly before. We set up a detailed plan for the motion graphics for the shooting day and the projections looked already amazing on set!

LBB> What are some of the trends which are exciting you at the moment?

Daniel> Advertising values instead of just products. And there are two trends which apparently run next to each other but are different: Companies dive into exploring the metaverse and everything around it, ultimately trying to create an immersive digital environment for their customers. But at the same time, the young generation is in need of authentic and approachable content, preferably by next-door content creators.

LBB> What’s next for The Sweetspot? Can you tell us a little bit about what the future looks like?

Daniel> Our wish is to create extraordinary moving content. But who knows if that only means producing commercials. We always had a fascination for longer formats (limited series, documentary), so let´s see what comes up on this side.

But speaking of The Sweetspot as a company, we want the name to be a brand of its own. It should not matter what you are looking for in the end, as long as you know that you want it The Sweetspot way!

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The Sweetspot, Fri, 24 Feb 2023 15:24:00 GMT