Interview with Yamdu Co-Founder Florian Reimann
3rd October 2019 by Will Stewart
Entry to the inaugural MadeGood short film awards closes at the end of this month, so in anticipation we interviewed the co-founder of our sponsor Yamdu, Florian Reimann. Yamdu are offering 1 year subscriptions to the winner and runners up. Want to know more about what Yamdu is? Read on!
MadeGood – Please give me some background on yourself, and what you were up to before you started Yamdu?
Florian – I have always been a filmmaker at heart and was completely captivated by cinema from a very young age. As soon as it was possible, I started working in the industry here in Germany. Working as a teenager on every production it was possible to work on, in whatever position was available, was a great way to learn about the industry. It was not always glamorous work but the atmosphere on set and the energy of a creative industry was very exciting. As a teenager, I worked in every department it was possible to work in from hair and make up to production design. I sourced props, worked as a driver, a clapper loader, a video operator, an assistant director – if you think of a role someone could have on a film, I’ve probably done it. Being able to work all over Germany and eventually in the USA too was an amazing hands-on education in the film industry.
I studied film production at the University for Film and Television in Munich and worked my way up the ladder until I was producing films myself and running my own production company. The perspective you get doing all of these different tasks on various types of productions along the way is invaluable. You learn how everything is inter-related and how everyone depends on everyone else involved on a production to make everything run smoothly. Of course, things often don’t run smoothly so you begin to understand the problems and frustrations of filmmaking and start thinking about how things might be done better. And the concept of Yamdu was developing in my head from that point – how could this be done better? I was imagining the possibilities from that point onwards.
MadeGood – What made you want to create Yamdu? Was it in response to fulfilling needs in your own video making workflow, or was it a reaction to listening to what the industry wanted?
Florian – It was a mixture of the two. I had a perspective on filmmaking that helped me to understand how all the elements come together and how all the departments interact. And that allowed me to see where all the time drains and miscommunications and general inefficiencies were. On the micro level, you think about how you could do things better personally and that naturally leads to considering how everyone could do things better.
Film producing is a mixture of creative and logistical work. The creative side has always been the fun side of the job, but I was always aware with my background that the logistical and organisational aspects of producing needed to be managed properly to ensure that a project is successful. And I was fascinated by the possibilities technological advances could offer in relation to this.
At university, I was being taught how to do scheduling on paper boards or create daily reports on carbon paper for blueprint copies. These were important things to learn, of course, but it was apparent to me even then that there were better ways to do these things.
Between 2005 and 2010, the internet was transforming into a place to do business instead of simply sharing ideas or stories. However, the applications popping up at the time did not seem to serve a complex and volatile industry like the film business very well.
In late 2010, I had the idea of creating a tool to use for my own productions. I sketched out a prototype and reached out to my network to find some sparring partners. And fortunately, I was able to put together a team of great developers – and all of them are still part of our growing Yamdu family.
The first stages of the process were tough work. The vision of the workflow was there on day one. But developing software can be just as much of a challenge as developing stories and scripts. We were always aware that feedback was essential, so we were listening to many industry figures from the start in order to focus and prioritise.
And listening is still one of our core values today. We constantly gather feedback from our users so that we can improve Yamdu every week. Serving such a highly specialised industry means that you always need to keep improving and developing your product. It’s like running a telenovela that never ends – it takes a lot of effort and organisation but it’s an exhilarating experience.
The good thing is that today we’ve come to a point where all the requests and suggestions we receive are pretty much the same from customers all over the world. Filmmakers might speak different languages, but the problems are the same in all territories and that’s the fun part of running a global application like Yamdu. An update we implement on the suggestion of a documentary filmmaker in Brazil could provide a commercial production company in London with something they were looking for. The software is a great melting pot for production ideas and we get to take suggestions from creative filmmakers around the world and put them all together in order to create an amazing system.
MadeGood – For the uninitiated, please explain to me what Yamdu is, and how it works?
Florian – Yamdu is a cloud-based production management system that allows you to take control of all aspects of film, tv or media production.
Firstly, you can manage your crew, assign access rights, make announcements and create tasks. It’s a communication hub for your entire production where everyone can collaborate. That’s the very first thing that needs to be organised – making sure that everyone is on the same page, that everyone has a clear understanding of what they need to do and can find any information they need whenever they need it.
It’s also vitally important that people only see the information that’s relevant to them – our file-sharing area makes sure that people can see any relevant information they need to see at any time – from contracts to scripts to video footage. If people have to sift through a pile of irrelevant information to find what they are looking for, they can’t work effectively and then time, effort and ultimately money are being wasted. And these are all vital and finite resources for every production.
There’s a project calendar with all the important information about meetings and events – with immediate notifications about participants who have conflicts or clashes for potential events. People can also vote on the best time for an event too to make things easier. It’s very easy for everyone to see what’s happening every day, and to make sure that nothing is missed or forgotten.
You can create production schedules with automatically-generated Gantt charts that make it clear how the journey of the production is due to progress from development all the way through to post-production and release. Again, this helps to focus the mind of everyone working on the project. The schedules can be edited and adapted in seconds to make it easy to react to the changes and revisions that occur during a production. If something changes, it shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out manual process to get everything in order again. It should be almost immediate so everyone involved can stay on top of things and focus on their jobs.
You can work with scenes or shots or content items, so there are options for every type of production. You can import scripts and have your breakdown built up automatically and tag the script to add props and costumes and many other elements. You can build up a shot list and storyboard a commercial or music video. With content items, you can create interviews and behind the scenes footage or any other type of content you require. Everything is focused on the individual needs of the project and the user.
Information added to the breakdown is sent to the relevant department whether it is casting or costumes or production design. You can add locations and assign sets to them. You can take care of the entire casting process. When you have everything together, you can create shooting schedules in seconds and call sheets automatically. All of the information you add is ready to be used in all the relevant places.
And the crew, actors, locations, costumes and props of every project are added to your company database to be reused as needed on future projects to save a lot of time and effort.
Every element of the software is designed to assist the people involved in a production and streamline the workflow of the project to eliminate redundant work, time drains and miscommunication.
MadeGood – MadeGood specifically caters to documentary film makers. Can you give me an example of how Yamdu would be specifically useful to the documentary, or factual film making workflow?
Florian – First of all, Yamdu is highly scalable, so you can deactivate the functions you don’t need right away. Things like costuming and production design are taken out the equation allowing you to focus on the things that matter.
All of your locations and all of the important information of the project are in the cloud and can be accessed at any time. You can immediately build a production schedule for all of the production steps involved and create tasks.
You can work with shots and content items instead of scenes, which is obviously vitally important. You can build up a shot list, storyboard your ideas and add items like interviews or photographs or drone shots or any other elements you might want to shoot to build up your project. You can add all of these things in advance or in the moment, which is important as part of the documentary process will be reacting to new avenues and new information.
Instead of actors, you can work with talents, so you can add the people you will interact with to your database with all of their contact details and other key pieces of information.
Yamdu is very agile, so it’s built to provide whatever a documentarian needs in the moment. You can plan for the things that you know will happen and react quickly to the surprises along the way.
MadeGood – I see you have a relationship with Arri, please can you tell me a bit more about that. What benefits are there to being connected to such a well established and respected company?
Florian – We have a full integration with Arri Webgate which is a software designed to manage dailies in post-production. Working closely with a company like Arri is obviously a great honor given their role in film history. We think it says a lot about Yamdu that they have chosen to partner with us. Arri Webgate is an incredible platform for managing video content, communicating and interacting with clients too. You can integrate it directly into the Yamdu interface so that the workflow is completely seamless. Together, we provide all of the resources to manage a production from the first steps in development and pre-production all the way through to post-production and the finished film.
MadeGood – What’s next for Yamdu, how do you see it developing in the future?
Florian – Well, we have some very big features in the pipeline which I can’t discuss right now as we are developing them together with some selected customers – everything is confidential. We are aiming to be able to announce the first news on these developments by fall this year.
Besides those big features, we have a team that is constantly working on a catalogue of several hundred little tasks to further improve Yamdu’s performance and integrate other interesting feature requests and ideas from customers. That involves making things as easy and customisable as possible. And that’s more difficult than it might first sound. We have to look at every process from a user’s point of view and consider the value of any changes we make.
The future for Yamdu involves constantly refining our existing features to reflect the needs of our users while also imagining new tools which will benefit filmmakers of every kind.
We are still working on our vision to provide a system with one harmonised workflow for this very special industry. So, it’s up to young filmmakers like you to assess if we are getting closer to that.
Florian Reimann - Yamdu co-founder