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Andy at work against an Oslo sky.
27th February 2017

Camera-ready: Introducing Zetteler’s new (old) film production department

For the last four years, Zetteler founder Sabine Zetteler and documentary director Andy Dunn have been making short films together as Zetteler & Dunn.

Recently reborn as Zetteler Films, Sabine and Andy are now working with Zetteler clients (and beyond) to make compelling content that lifts the lid on creative companies, projects, exhibitions and individuals. In recent months they’ve been to Oslo for 100% Norway, San Francisco for Monotype and Google, and will soon be heading to Hull and back for G . F Smith.
Check out the Zetteler Films showreel here, and then keep on reading to discover the story of the filmmaking partnership as we catch up with Andy Dunn himself.
Andy behind the camera in Oslo.
How, when and where did you meet?

We met in the mid-noughties at the legendary BBC TV Centre in White City, London. I was working in the Music TV department and Sab worked for the Head of Production. For ages she was just a weird surname on regular internal emails, then I figured out that she held the power of allotting the car-park spaces, so I figured she was worth meeting in the flesh.

Sabine on a shoot in Glasgow.
What made you decide to go into film production together?

We used to share things that we thought were cool, especially videos and I think we’d casually mooted it, but it was when Sabine had some kind of epiphany on a plane back from Maui and she wrote the ‘Jerry Maguire Memo’ that we actually decided to go for it. It coincided with us both leaving staff jobs for the freelance life. Also this film was one of the ones that made us think ‘that’s what we should be doing’.

How do your respective roles work? What does each of you bring to the party?

We like to collaborate on all aspects from the first concept through to the final cut. I think I bring practical skills in terms of shooting and editing and making things happen on the day, etc (I think that’s called ‘directing’) and we share a sensibility for the tone of brand films. There’s a barometer with cheesy/corporate at one end and pretentious at the other – we like to stay away from those extremes.

Sabine and Andy
Sabine brings her amazing relationships with her clients – which are based on an authentic enthusiasm for their work that they don’t get elsewhere. And she also knows what information journalists and the public-at-large want, and need, to know about our subjects – which is crucial otherwise a film isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to. They can’t be just pretty pictures.
What’s the most annoying thing about working with each other?

Really, it’s just that we’re always so busy that we don’t get as much time these days to chew the fat about stuff we like, so the fact that we work with each other means we don’t have time to ‘hang out’. Maybe we need a night out on the G&Ts in some bar in W12 like the old days. 
And the best?

The best thing about the work itself is we get to travel to great locations, meet really lovely, talented people and then deliver something they love and which works for them. As for us, we’re mostly on the same wavelength and we’re pretty straight with each other when we’re not – like, when I send Sab a rough cut and she replies with something like ‘I love it, but I hate the music or the font, etc.’ I like direct feedback.  So that’s good. But mostly it’s just that we understand each other pretty well so we make a good team.
On set in Oslo.

Obviously it takes more than two people to make a film – where do you get your technicians, editors, sound people and the like?

Since the beginning we’ve worked with Mark Simms, our favourite sound recordist. He’s totally the unofficial third member of the Zetteler Films crew. And we often work with Charles Battrick at El Carousel when we need a bit more oomph in the motion graphics department. We tend to keep crews small and focused but we have a network of DOPs and editors we can call on if we need to scale up.

How would you describe the films you make? What style/values guide them?

Visually, I’d say they are photographic with a naturalistic approach. They aren’t flashy but at the same time they don’t look too homespun. We don’t go for artificial filters and effects. Instead, we use the best of the natural light and subtly supplement that where necessary. And we pride ourselves on having the best sound quality, that’s so important. 

How do you decide which clients you work with?

I think this happens quite organically, especially when Zetteler works with them already on their PR, but they tend be brilliant at what they do, really friendly and also decent people. Good people. No wa&k@*s.
Setting up on the Google shoot.

Do you have a favourite project?

Tough one. No one favourite… I’ve cherished our filming trips to Norway. Sipsmith Gin was an early highlight and I’m loving our current projects with GF Smith and Monotype. Our short film about artist/designers Hunting & Narud has always been a favourite – something about how easily it came together. It sort of made itself, that one.

Sabine and Andy
What made you decide to bring Zetteler and Dunn under the Zetteler umbrella?

It just made sense to streamline. We were running three companies between us and it was confusing. So we now have one fewer website to worry about, two fewer bank cards and far fewer passwords to forget.

Also Zetteler has grown so there are several extra PR and project-management brains there that I’m hoping to make use of (and think of the extra pairs of hands for carrying tripods!).
Why should people get Zetteler to make their films?

I think our films manage to get across quite complex and sophisticated stories with clarity. That’s about drawing the best material from our subjects on camera and then setting it out with care in the edit. This underpins everything and the viewer takes away the right message.

We also love to make more conceptual, mood pieces where the sound and vision take priority over the spoken or written word. These can be really effective and lend themselves to social media. 

In more general terms, the films reflect our own curiosity – the conversations we have on camera generate better stories than fixed questions and answers, and the footage we gather also has that inquisitive, appreciating feel. So the films reflect the personality of their subjects rather than us imposing our style on them.
Filming al fresco in Oslo.
.Want to find out more about Zetteler's clients or services? You can reach the team using the details here.

Studio 3
De Beauvoir Block
92 De Beauvoir Road
N1 4EN

+44 (0)20 3735 5855