Production crew have stories to tell. Being the hands-on end of the advertising industry, their working days can often be the most remarkable of anything in the business. But when Huawei gave OTO Film the brief to take a three-week trip around Europe, it instantly became one of the most extreme jobs digital producer Pawel Jozwik and production assistant Niki Czober had taken on.
The project took them across eight countries, covering over 4,000 kilometres with two Polish influencers with the aim of producing content every day that would test HUAWEI’s WATCH 3 Pro.
Zuza and Andrzej Treneiro, were to travel from Athens, Greece, to the beautiful island of Pag in Croatia, passing through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia on the way. The trip had to showcase unique tourist attractions and give the influencers the chance to take part in many exciting activities, which had not been accessible due to the pandemic in the previous year. From sailing on Lake Balaton and jet skiing to having dinner with Count Dracula in his Transylvanian castle, all the challenges would be published daily on Huawei’s social media channels.
It required a freeform style of production. “To be honest, it wasn't a script, it was only an idea and nothing more,” says Pawel. “We only had information about what we needed to show and prepare for.
Production on a one-day shoot can be full of unexpected turns of events, but over 25 days, the scope for challenging surprises widened quite a bit. “Sometimes it was really hard for us to prepare for some conditions,” says Niki. “The weather changed and was so hard and other small things. It wasn't because of any lack of preparation. It was just like, ‘OK, so right now this is the reality. We really had to think about things.”
On top of that, working with influencers for 25 days as a team of real filmmakers requires a lot of patience. “I think the first week was good,” says Pawel. “The second week was… harder. And the third week was the hardest. But to be honest, everyone was so tired by the third week. Emotions were at their highest speed. Working with influencers is not an easy job.”
One of the influencers, Andrej, makes sports content every day. “He knows everything about that,” says Pawel. “And every day he tried to convince us of other solutions and tried to be the director. Sometimes, it was hard because we couldn't tell him to allow us to do it our way.”
Niki Czober and Pawel Jozwik
The challenges varied. From getting stuck on the border between Romania and Bulgaria for, let’s say, “bureaucratic reasons” to their car breaking down in Romania one Saturday afternoon.
“It wasn't supposed to be so hard,” says Niki, “but, whoever we called didn't speak English and when they tried to speak English, it was like, "yeah, I'll be there" and two minutes later, when we called back, they didn't answer. I was freaking out. It was so hard. I was calling everybody.
“At some point, I went to the restroom, and tried to call another person. I’m in a great big queue. I finally got to the door and someone picked up and spoke proper English. I was like, ‘OK, screw the restroom.’ I talked with this guy and he recommended someone to us. It was so cool. It was a few really young guys, they'd just opened half a year ago. It was like Formula 1 or something. When we stopped there, they just ran to the car to repair it. They were so lovely.”
The struggles of the experience only made the positives sweeter. The team of mechanics became friends. Niki kept in touch over the rest of the trip, sending them pictures of what they were getting up to.
Another highlight was the dinner at Bran Castle with, as Pawel claims, “the real Dracula”. Everybody on camera was dressed up for the occasion while the crew were dressed like crew. “It was so fun,” says Niki.
The team also relishes the chance to travel for this job, especially after 2020 had made leaving Poland so difficult. Niki relishes the chance to visit some places she’d not have thought to visit. “I loved Serbia,” she says. “I love the lovely, kind people, I love the energy, and there was a wakeboard challenge going on that Pawel allowed me to do too. I was super happy about it. I loved the client there. I loved everything there. For sure, I'll go back to Serbia.”
Living with the same crew for three weeks was another out-of-the-ordinary experience. As Niki says, at OTO Film the team have a lot of opportunities to travel but mostly they go to one country at a time. “This was the first time we had all of our crew, day by day, each day for 25 days. During the night, during the day - all the time.”
It sounds challenging, but Niki wouldn’t say it was impossible. “It was something different. I totally loved this project. Actually, I prefer these kinds of projects to normal ones. There were some tough things of course but it was super cool. It was so great.”
And the content turned out great. Pawel and Niki put that down to having the best collection of people on the job. “We had a very fast operator and very fast editor, which was absolutely key to achieve this high level,” says Pawel.
“The crew were super helpful - on top of their game,” says Niki. “So cool with everything that happened, super professional. It was the best crew ever, and good people also, on a personal level. We were prepared for everything, and everything was super cool. I really loved this project.”