Grainy, psychedelic, and somber. From the prowess of FKA Twigs in her pole-dancing performance and the roll of marijuana cigarette for Billy to unwind to in 2019 to the visitation of porn performers to a minor’s home and the eye-less society before registering for a new credit card and a fresh pair of eyes in 2020: Berlin Commercial celebrates and curates the state-of-the-art filmmaking, this time for the third year starting August 10 until 14 in Berlin.


As CAP 74024 speaks with Philipp Ulita, the festival’s Managing Director, he unveils how the global community of creatives keep seeking to create timeless and universal experiences through moving images, the extension of the theme The Age of Collaboration, and the reason behind its doctrine of highlighting mind-bending ideas, emotionally engaging stories, and well-crafted execution.

2019 Berlin Commercial Music Video Marbled Pick One Title Holder: FKA twigs – Cellophane

2021 Berlin Commercial Commercial Work Shortlisted: Burberry – Festive (Directed by MEGAFORCE)

2021 Berlin Commercial Commercial Work Shortlisted: Monza – Monza (Directed by Simon Gustafsson)

Hi Philipp! I hope everything’s well. Commenting on the new edition, you mentioned that you were building a community of talented creatives with similar values and mindsets. What are these mindsets and values? How do they help build a more inclusive community and growing audience?


Berlin Commercial’s network consists of people who are constantly looking for new ways to express their own visions and always managing to include others in their passion, professionalism, and interpretation of work.


It’s natural to adopt mindsets and values where we always strive for the best and highest possible standards and constantly stay open to new ideas while working with the tools at hand to create timeless and universal experiences, pushing us forward collectively as humans and culture.


These are the foundations of our creatives’ works and projects, which are the same for the festival that serves as a platform for all these whip-smart people out there. Every year, we’re more than impressed curating the submitted work. The films deserve to be showcased in an adequate manner; that’s our job. Inclusive communities and growing audiences happen if something is done honestly and continuously.


Thank you for highlighting your values and mindsets! These related to what Berlin Commercial takes on, which is the ongoing visibility and easier access to creative talents and revolutionary storytelling. How do you define revolutionary in storytelling, and why do we need it in our video content?


Well, the creators don’t compromise. They have a knowledge of film language and aesthetics, and take inspiration from all possible sources: high art, fashion, photography, literature, and on the streets. Equipped with a natural curiosity, they use and share their skills for the greater good. This persistence alone is revolutionary. You can easily spot a copy-paster. Why do we need original and straight-forward video content? Because anything else is boring and brings us nowhere.

Right! When you mentioned that anything else was boring and brought us nowhere, it reminded me of the event’s doctrine, which lies in ‘highlighting mind-bending ideas, emotionally engaging stories, and well-crafted execution.’ Why do you search for these ideas and what do you aim to convey to your audiences?


Being active across different media landscapes and styles means being able to select the right inspiration for the right moment. Sometimes, it’s a puppy video; sometimes, it’s something more provocative. There’s a lot of content out there asking for our attention. What we provide is a highly curated selection of films and people involved. Just look at our jury line-ups and guests. In the end – next to all the glam and fun aspects – awards give structure, orientation, and open up new possibilities to connect with other creators and audiences.


Speaking of connecting with other creators and audiences, the new edition launches an Instagram channel to provide visibility to culturally relevant video content all year round. It also becomes the medium to connect with the global audience. How and why did the transition to a social media platform occur?


It’s more of an extension than a transition. We still have all the nominated films featured on our website. The new instagram channel has some benefits that a website doesn’t have. The main one? The handling. You can link all credits to the personal accounts and you can swipe from top to bottom and films start playing right away. No loading time – just an immediate effect. You can share your film as a business card, you’re featured next to other outstanding projects, and if you’re using it on your smartphone, your remote control is simultaneously your viewing device. Long story short, visibility is key and again, the films, being stimulating as they are, deserve every view and like they can get!

2021 Berlin Commercial Commercial Work Shortlisted: Christian Louboutin – LOUBI AIRWAYS (Directed by Victor Bastidas)

2021 Berlin Commercial Commercial Work Shortlisted: The North Face x Gucci – The North Face x Gucci presented by Highsnobiety (Directed by Fiona Jane Burgess)

2021 Berlin Commercial Personal Work Shortlisted: Heartbreak 101 on Schön Magazine
(Directed by Christophe Dolcerocca & Mathias Hovgaard)

As you create a cultural space, visibility is surely a target to eye! By the way, what topics of culture, art, business of commercial filmmaking, and content creation will Berlin Commercial highlight this year? Why does the summit desire to underscore these subjects?


Well, we’re still facing some limitations due to COVID, but in 2020 we came up with a new concept to host a real festival with in-person, networking possibilities relevant to our industry. Normally, we would have curated panels and stages; what’s happening now is having production companies and agencies all over town open their doors for screenings, talks, drinks, and music. This decentralized concept includes a shared responsibility and allows smaller groups to discover beautiful studios, beautiful people, and. of course, Berlin. We are preparing it right now. The dates for the festival are from August 10 to 14.


Turning towards one of the cultural issues the summit supports, the Berlin Commercial award trophies are produced using plastic waste – LDPE – that is usually not recyclable. Aside from this, how does the summit promote issues concerning the environment and sustainability?


We don’t promote them. In other words, we don’t preach. Our submitted films tackle these issues, and we curate and boost their visibility, same as other important topics like gender equality. Things come naturally, and we believe that inspiration preaches in a modest way.


Measuring sustainability in the event sector is not quite transparent and developed yet. Since 2020 -when face masks, lockdowns, and vaccinations started to influence our daily life – experience and big events, except for soccer tournaments, don’t take place, so any answer wouldn’t be representative, and a digital footprint is still a footprint.


Offering hybrid events includes a lot of planning and organizing on fronts which a regular festival can skip. Since 2020, the event and film industries have had to adapt to new challenges. These developed quickly, so from today’s point-of-view, the main thing we do for sustainability is to live it ourselves and trust in others to understand the urgency and do the same. Yes, we believe in intelligence.

The Berlin Commercial Awards recognize three separate category sections: music videos, personal projects, and commercials. In what ways do the jury and the summit provide support for every submission all creatives sent?


We separated categories into three sections since, for example, commercial projects and music videos were competing in the same categories. Also, the financial situation for each project differs greatly. We wanted to give personal projects, passion projects, and music videos their own stage and more air to breathe to get the right attention, especially when it comes to the craft categories.


In what ways do the jury and the summit provide support for every submission all creatives sent? Well, what we do is offer free strategic advice, which means that the creative teams can send us links to their projects before entering, and we have a look together on how to position them right in the given categories. Creative teams tend to rush into the main categories such as direction, cinematography, and best music video, but casting and sound design, production design, or visual effects are important too and also carry the message of the final films.


Long story short, we believe in team effort; this includes the submission process as well, and a nomination is a nomination, a win is a win.


Berlin Commercial is back for its third edition after a successful run in 2020 with the theme The Age of Collaboration. Is this theme still present this year? About the summit’s future, are there any avenues you would like the summit to venture into? How do you envision its growth in the next couple of years?


The theme stayed as it is. We still have to collaborate and work within the given circumstances. The future? In 2020, we opened a new platform for four-Minute video keynotes, which we feature on our website, Instagram TV, and Vimeo. We will, of course, also come up with new ways to engage with our audience.


As far as physical events are concerned: in January, we separated the fashion film category and gave it its own runway now. Berlin Fashion Film Festival is on again; we’re just producing the trophies for this occasion now. So yes, we’re growing in different directions, but we always stick to celebrating creativity and outstanding talent. Once bigger events are possible again, we’ll have shows with more performance art, stagecraft, and music, and, of course, more in-person networking and rubbing elbows with cool people. Choosing the right outfit for an award show and after party, your own film on a big screen, the first shy dance move, queuing up at the BAR – all that again with hopefully less restrictions soon.

2021 Berlin Commercial Personal Work Shortlisted: Somebody for Dominika Kazakova
(Directed by Jordan Blady), previously featured on CAP 74024

2021 Berlin Commercial Music Video Shortlisted: Megan Thee Stallion – Thot Shit

Text & Interview by Matthew Burgos

Edit by Yves Tsou