One Day at the Office – on site and remote

Our job is one we have to learn anew all the time. Not only are new films made all the time, and stories are told in new forms never seen before, technology has developed immensely in our field, and continues to do so. And the buyers switch jobs, the jobs change profile, the profiles get reorganized… In the midst of all this, breathtakingly fascinating and interesting as it is, we as producers, sales agents, distributors, often Executive Producers, are also the gateway, the bridge, the window from one film to its audience worldwide. It’s not easy to comprehend the entire scope from filmmaking to filmwatching, and sometimes we ask ourselves what it is we’re actually doing at the office.

So one day in December, we simply wrote it all down. Here goes, from the various desks at First Hand Films, on one single day:

International Sales & Finances

  • Starts the day with a cup of tea & breakfast while assessing our latest submissions
  • But actually checks her e-mails first in case anything is burning (it never is and always)
  • Sends a good morning message to the crew and is amused by the good-morning-gifs being sent around
  • Checks our calendar to see what’s up today and in the days ahead
  • Visits the bank to greedily check how rich we are and who still owes us money
  • Unfortunately prepares payments that make us less able to pay our filmmakers
  • Stares out the window dreamily to hopefully catch a glimpse of the cute green parrots that fly by
  • Answers some e-mails, follows up others
  • Rereads license agreements again and again
  • Logs on right 2’ late for the Sales Weekly and discusses the week ahead with the team
  • Logs on right on time for the company meeting
  • Forgets her lunch break
  • Jumps on a buyer or acquisitions call
  • Takes a 10’ sofa tiktok break
  • Prepares an avails list for clients
  • Speaks to the database programmer to further develop our rights management so she doesn’t have to prepare avails lists anymore or can only double-check them
  • Prepares another avails list for a client who wants German speaking titles in German speaking territories but it flabbergasted when these territories are not available due to the production financing of the film
  • Stares out the window again and hopes for another visit by her parrot friends
  • Prepares employees’ salary statements
  • Drafts social media posts & tries to convince a certain generation of producers to hand over their handles to improve reach & clicks & and everything millennial
  • Submits a change of contract to the insurance company for one of the employees
  • Realizes it’s time to go home and says goodbye to everyone in the chat but secretly finishes a few last e-mails
  • Empties the bin & deletes the deleted messages with a satisfying crackle/digital-paper-shredder sound
  • Logs off & goes home

International Sales

  • Checking-in in the office chat
  • Checking calendar for the day
  • Checking e-mails
  • Coordinating material deliveries from producers
  • Checking and ingesting materials from producers in database and on servers
  • Negotiating hence and forth with buyers
  • Checking contract draft regarding rights, territories, and material requirements
  • Communicating with producers about deliverables
  • Preparing and uploading materials on server for digital delivery to buyers
  • Checking materials according to technical specifications from buyers
  • Maintaining material storage servers
  • Preparing screening links
  • Mailing screening links to buyers
  • Communicating with buyers to follow up on pending films
  • Updating information about sales and license in database
  • Checking documents with producers against music or video rights claims from VOD platform
  • Writing invoices
  • Maintaining FHF World Sales webpage
  • Ingesting new submissions in database
  • Watching and giving feedback on submissions for internal evaluation
  • Checking and working on fundings for international distribution
  • Preparing booklets for markets/festivals

Assistant MD

  • Checking on Eddie (our vacuum robot) if he found his way back home
  • Watering the plants
  • Making a cup of coffee
  • Checking in with everyone in the chat or in person
  • Checking our busy calendar to have a better overview about the day
  • Checking mails, responding to what’s urgent
  • Preparing the company meeting
  • Sitting together with the entire team to discuss what everyone is up to this week
  • Asking Filmfestivals for waivers
  • Submitting films to various Filmfestivals
  • Updating our data base and calendar with festivals/markets and deadlines
  • Checking Internetspeed and gather that it’s too slow
  • Making phonecalls to our internet provider because of the slow internet
  • Noticing someone struggling to print in the office
  • Collecting all my patience while I’m approaching the printer
  • Checking if the printer is in good condition. It is always in good condition but almost never in a good mood
  • Shutting down the printer, starting the printer, checking for paper jam (there is never a paper jam), opening and closing all the possible doors on the printer and then hope for a miracle that it will do the one thing he is supposed to do… print.
  • Sending screener links to festivals that are interested in our film
  • Sorting material folders
  • Organizing office storage
  • Checking if there are the bare essentials in the snack drawer

Managing Director

  • Checking the Shefflera to see if she has babies
  • Announing Gudde Mohsche in the office chat, putting little hearts and suns to others’ good mornings
  • Using morning focus to work on the new 137 pages co-production contract with a streamer
  • Deleting a lot of mails, filing more, starting to answer some of them
  • Watching films, watching trailers, reading proposals, watching films, watching series, reading projects, watching materials, rough cuts, variations of opening scenes, watching films
  • Remembering a GIF that everybody needs to see
  • Searching for the GIF
  • Remembering that we haven’t shared a song of the day in a while, wondering what it should be
  • Back to mails
  • Gathering teams for short specific meetings
  • Lingering unspecifically over non-burning issues and learning something about the colleagues
  • Scheduling travel, video calls, regular calls, more meetings, scheduling quiet time
  • Laughing out loud at the ingenuity of the young people sending me GIFS (there’s this function on the chat software)
  • Connecting with filmmakers, working with producers, always looking for what’s great, what’s fitting, also, what others will want to see, and where
  • Connecting with business partners, the bank, colleagues, making sure we still have the passion of eQuality in a year, and two, and five

Assistant Theatrical Distribution Switzerland

  • Starting my laptop from the train; the first hour I’m working on the road (or rather the train track)
  • Saying hello to everyone in our company group chat, even though no one else seems to be here just yet
  • Checking the calendar for the day and realizing that the entire morning is filled with meetings
  • Checking my mails
  • Everybody else starts showing up in the company group chat and I send them emojis to welcome them
  • Sending film files to two cinemas that will have press screenings of our new movie
  • Patiently waiting for my hotspot-internet because the train is currently going through a reception black hole
  • Adjusting the deadlines for subtitles deliveries (I’m currently in a materials battle as I’m preparing six movies for an upcoming Swiss film festival)
  • Shockingly (but happily) seeing that the film file for one of our other new films has been finalized and uploaded to our server at the speed of light
  • Checking if there are any new Box Office numbers that can be updated (but there are not)
  • Packing up my train office and getting ready for a short stroll to the office
  • Arriving at the office and setting up my workplace
  • Quickly checking in with the team
  • Downloading screener files from our server, checking them and then uploading them to different platforms
  • Preparing the coordination of the film files delivery to a film festival
  • Participating in a meeting about the materials and delivery of an in-house production
  • Having a meeting about bookkeeping of the production departement
  • Checking for the physical mail but realizing that there have been no letters or other deliveries
  • Preparing my lunch and taking a lunch break (at precisely 12 o’clock!)
  • Updating screening links
  • Replying to more e-mails and answering phone calls
  • Going through my to-do’s and adjusting the deadlines; figuring out what I should do next
  • Working on a promotional gadget for an upcoming film and fighting with the software to do so
  • Making an Iced Latte (at precisely 14:15)
  • Going back to my desk and continuing the fight with graphics
  • Researching different sticker printing methods for the gadget and then eventually ordering the stickers
  • Checking in with the intern if it’s okay to start the dishwasher now, because she’ll be the last to leave the office and will then have to empty it
  • Starting the application to a subsidy for a new film and writing to the world sales company of the film, because we need some more documents
  • Talking on the phone to a director of another new film of ours and checking in with her that the finalization of the film file and delivery to the festival will work out
  • Packing my stuff and getting ready to catch my train back home
  • Once again setting up my office in the train to finish my work day from there
  • And going straight back to my e-mails
  • Finishing my day by sorting through invoices and checking them with our budgets; then giving them to our finance department
  • Saying goodbye to everyone in our group chat and logging off

Head Theatrical Distribution Switzerland

  • Drinking coffee with early birds
  • Checking in calendar, mails and see what is not burning, burning, very burning
  • Drinking a second coffee with the next crowd of not so early bird
  • Deciding who and what comes first
  • Drinking a third coffee and planning meetings and talks ahead of the day
  • Making lists of delegating tasks to the distribution team so I can have all the time in the world on the phone with producers and filmmakers, juggle their questions, inputs and demands
  • Strategies: which promotional campaign here, what programming strategy there, which numbers in what budgets, where to find interesting gadgets for another release, does the filmmaker be able to make this huge tour we have in mind for them and their film, which target groups are we aiming at for another film and who is going to help contacting them
  • Looking over numbers and numbers and numbers of our films, the films of the other distributors, drawing conclusions, preparing for Mondays, where all distributors are placing the films with numeric arguments
  • Talking to the cinema partners and gathering their opinions, cultivating the relationship and placing our films
  • Writing promotional concepts, adapting numbers in budgets, observing the promotional campaigns of the distributor colleagues, shifting numbers again
  • Juggling spreadsheets, touring through our tailor-made database to see if all invoices are out
  • Following up with TV buyers about our films and the talks we had at the festivals
  • Preparing meetings with the sales agents to be early and on top of projects in development, checking their line-ups, checking festival line-ups, researching projects
  • But then some of them call, mostly just before the deadline of a funding round, asking for letter of intent, happy moments, discovering new work, enjoying the mutual trust
  • Reading scripts, scrolling through teasers, watching what seems promising, discussing with Esther and team when discovered a gem
  • Sometimes watching till late, then when the world is silent and when switched off the computer and the brain is still working because of the discovery of a gem: the drinking of a herbal tea is called for with smoking a cigarette and saying good night to fox and badger.

Intern Theatrical Distribution Switzerland

  • Arrive in the office
  • Greet everyone in the office
  • Do intern stuff like clear the dishwasher or start the coffee machine
  • Not act like a nervous wreck
  • Assess the situation and figure out what your tasks are for the day
  • Be ready to learn about the job from your superiors
  • Proceed with tasks
  • Research thousands of potential promotional partners all over Switzerland
  • Write to the thousands of promotional partners all over Switzerland
  • Massage my hands because wow these are a lot of e-mails
  • Understand the sarcasm of my co-workers
  • Fail to understand the sarcasm of my co-workers
  • Nervously laugh but slightly panic on the inside
  • Recover
  • Made it to Lunch
  • Phew
  • Put my food in the microwave for three minutes
  • Try not to act awkward in those three minutes (pro tip: go to the bathroom to avoid starting awkward conversations)
  • Get food, eat food, recharge
  • 5 minute fresh air break
  • Return back to work
  • Learn something about your superiors
  • Attempt to convert what you’ve learnt
  • Make an error
  • Try not to make a mountain out of a molehill
  • Fail, panic, and make a mountain out of a molehill, even though your superios are so nice and forgiving
  • Restored back to a calm setting by your superiors
  • Leave the desk and begin preparing the dispatch of poster and flyers for Swiss cinemas all over the country
  • Prepare even more posters and flyers
  • Still on it
  • Wow these are a lot of posters and flyers
  • What was it again? 7 posters and 20 flyers? No wait 3 and 50
  • This duct tape is annoying
  • If I have to pack one more poster I wi- oh wait 17:15 already
  • Accomplish more intern jobs like clear the dishwasher or turn off the coffee machine
  • Say goodbye to the people in the office
  • Leave content

Junior Producer

    • At home – I drink coffee and check my calendar to organize my day
    • Realize that I am two months behind the deadline to write this text for our website
    • So my plan for today:
      1. Have a coffee with Esther
      2. Quickly check my mails
      3. Write this text
      4. Answer some mails
      5. Discus a new rough cut with the team
      6. Call the sound designer to discuss the upcoming mix in Berlin
      7. Book a train ticket
      8. Keep track of post-production cost
      9. Lunch break in the park
      10. Answer more mails about workflows, awards, graphics and contracts
      11. Write a text for a new project for OFC
      12. Call with a director about how we could improve workflows
  • Hop on my bike and climb the hill to get to the office
  • Arrive at the office, I brew a coffee and chat with the colleagues
  • Open my laptop with the plan to finally write this text
  • Chat team channel is bursting with funny gifs
  • I laugh and let the bot chose how I answer them
  • I check my emails and there goes my plan for today to write this text… again and again and again, again.
  • …until now — 2 months later on the train to Berlin
  • Today I am already on the second coffee before I open my computer, it’s a bit earlier than usual.
  • (Actually, the coffee that I’ve brewed two months ago, I drank cold. Someone from the team has prepared lunch and realized that there was still a cold coffee standing underneath the machine and instantly knew it was mine)
  • Check my calendar & answer some of the most urgent emails.
  • Cross the border…. NO INTERNET anymore
  • I ask the DB train person, why
  • „Because we are on French Territory – it’s hard here“, they say
  • So now after almost half a year of being too busy for writing this – now there’s nothing else I can do
  • Ok – I have to admit, I was not always sooo busy. Sometimes we drank bubbles at the office, talked about AI, TikTok and shitty films, or we played with dogs and filmmakers that came to the office…

Production Manager

  • Checking office chat in the train
  • Taking a few minutes to reflect on the day
  • Getting off the train in Oerlikon, walking to the office
  • Checking-in the office
  • Making coffee
  • Drinking coffee
  • Going trough new mails
  • Heading to company meeting to tell my colleagues about my weekly goals
  • Going back to my desk and checking new debtors and creditors
  • Checking in with colleagues to make sure all payments are up to date.
  • Talking to director how much money is left for production.
  • Answering questions to colleagues about where I saved documents
  • Ordering harddrives
  • Setting up hard drives
  • Sending harddrives
  • Preparing contracts with freelancers
  • Discussing contracts with colleagues and freelancers
  • Going through the list of upcoming projects and makes sure everything is on track
  • Chatting with new upcoming directors and their projects
  • Attending a virtual meeting with a potential partner
  • Mailing a few filmmakers to check in and see how their projects are going
  • Planning the company’s social media accounts with the latest news and updates
  • Planning the next day
  • Wishing everyone a nice rest of the day
  • Heading for the train