Focus on Independent Film: The Portrait of Soccer Player Ausherzspiel – Looking for a Cinematic Atmosphere in Small Means: Introduction / Being in the moment

From Thursday 28 July 2022 | 4 pages | Read this article on one page

Ausherzspiel is the name of a series of documentaries on YouTube from the world of professional football. In every much-loved video, a (former) player or coach was shot. For their current clip, the 5-minute players were allowed to accompany Stuttgart-born Odyssey Vlakodemos, the Greek national goalkeeper and number one goalkeeper at Benfica Lisbon, during his 5-day daily life in the Portuguese capital.

The restrained but sophisticated camera and minimally used music give the hero plenty of space and invite you to watch and listen. We wanted to know more about how the clip was made and asked Yannick Galsky about his approach to shooting, what cameras he uses (Blackmagic Pocket CC 6K/Pro), how editing works, and last but not least how to make a professional soccer player like an Audi stand in front of the lens .

Being in the moment – improvised shots

Yannick, how did you get into filming?

In 2020, my best friend Felix and I started making 30-minute documentaries – we wanted to tell inspiring stories about topics we were interested in. Since we are both big football fans, it was obvious for us to choose this area.

While doing our first experiments with documentary work, we both realized we loved the job, which eventually led us to quit our jobs and start our own production company called 5moreminutes in early 2022. I take care of camera and editing work, Felix takes care of organizing. In addition to documentary formats, we also produce advertising films and photos for further work. However, our focus and passion is to tell true stories of people who pursue their dreams.

So some kind of “learning by doing”?

Yes, these documentaries were a good way for me to improve photography, lighting, and storytelling.

You can say whatever you want about Netflix and Co. But what I really appreciate is the countless documentaries formats that are well prepared on Netflix that come in cinema quality. In the past, I was only used to the typical “German” type of documentaries, often very old, their pitch and lighting mood is very simple, without any atmosphere. On the other hand, I want to convey a cinematic atmosphere with our small films.

It’s early days and we often have to compromise, but I hope we can continue to scale up our production and storytelling, and hopefully one day make it to the big screen so more people can see and realize our work. This is my dream.

How did the video with Ody come about?

The documentary clip with Ody is part of our project “Ausherzspiel”, which focuses on exciting and original personalities from the world of football. Ody is our first active athlete as a champion. Before that we only had the opportunity to work with ex-players and a former football coach. Since he was absolutely nobody in the industry, it was very difficult to get the attention of former or active professionals. I’m not very good at talking, so Felix called all the agencies and potential champions himself so that one by one he was willing to participate in our edition.

The first episodes got a decent number of viewers. People started noticing us and taking us more seriously, and that’s how we reached out to Ody, which is important to us. We spoke on the phone and about two weeks later we visited him in Portugal for five days. Flex and I supported our friend Denise, who gave an interview to Audi.

How free were you about content with a professional like the protagonist? Was there some kind of image control exercised by Benfica?

Of course, before we were allowed to shoot with Audi, we needed the club’s approval. Because Audi was very keen on the project, he proactively approached the club himself and helped us communicate. We then gave Benfica a brief description of what we were planning, the topics we would like to address, and where the club’s support could help us. Benfica liked this concept very much and then made his own suggestions for content and filming locations. The support from the club has been amazing. No matter what wild proposal we had, Benfica did everything to make it possible for us…

Frankly, we were surprised at how little the club was organized. Except for a minor correction of the content, there were no change requests from the association regarding the publication.

Film still / Ausherzspiel

What are the creative and technical challenges in these sections?

Since we’re just a two-person team, we often have to be minimalistic and improvised. We pack very little and don’t have a lot of equipment (we don’t have much anyway, haha). However, we want our work to have a professional appearance. At first it was a real challenge.

For example, I often light interviews with only one or two lights, or even work without any light at all. Once I shot a 30-minute documentary with only one focal length. I also only had a 1.5 ND 4×5.6 in the matte box because we couldn’t take any more power at the time and didn’t want to mess with threaded ND filters. Mastering technical limitations like this has ultimately made me a much better and more relaxed cinematographer.

Creatively, most of the time we don’t have a strict shot list, we just work with what we find or what comes to mind while shooting. Of course, we have a certain direction in mind that we want to take with our story, but this is usually not put into writing. Because when we got started back then, we quickly realized that no matter how careful we were to plan something, something always didn’t go the way we wanted it to. So we adapt to the “running and gun” style, especially when shooting a documentary, and let the situations unfold in front of us. This way we are not restricted and are always open to new ideas that we get locally. This also contributes to the correctness of the clips.

Film still / Ausherzspiel

What is your narrative approach?

Our documentaries should be as real as possible. We try to let the moments in front of the camera come naturally and give them some breathing space – without music, without cuts, sometimes without questions.

We are just in a moment with the protagonist, living life as he does. These moments can be very different: going to the football field and putting on football boots for training, rituals before the match, for example. For example, a goalkeeper prepares his gloves for the next day’s big game, doing everyday things like yoga on the porch or just riding motorbikes or spending time with the family.

We want viewers to feel the same emotion as the protagonist and be drawn to him. Ideally, so much of the world around them fades and time passes unnoticed that they have to say to themselves, “Just five more minutes.” This is how we came up with the name of our production company. And that’s why we still believe in long formulas, even on platforms like YouTube.

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