Meiwenti Productions is a boutique film production company based in Berlin.
Symbiotic is Meiwenti Productions’ latest production. The film deals with the social and moral disruption that human-looking robots will bring to society.
Symbiotic was shot in Berlin in the spring of 2018 and it was completed in the fall 2020.
The film brought together over 100 people of various nationalities. The production included both professional team members as well as students and amateurs.
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The film project began on January 6, 2018. Puki Bauer and Juan Vargas reached out to the indie film community in Berlin, floating the idea of shooting an “agile film project”. It is no secret that film projects are complex, expensive and high-risk. We were borrowing the agile concept from software development project management techniques.
The idea is to execute the project with aggressive deadlines focusing only on what is strictly necessary to complete the project. With no budget available and no appetite to spend the time and energy to try to raise funds—which the majority of the time results in failure—this was the only way we thought we could actually shoot a film that year.
With the working title “Robs & Bots,” we launched a film project that targeted going from script to completion within a year. It was meant to be a community project, a labour of love. The film took a life of its own, growing at a pace we couldn’t control. It eventually involved 107 people. We managed to wrap up shooting at the end of June 2018—two days ahead of our tight schedule.
But then we hit a wall. Getting people excited to collaborate on the production of a film is easy because the process is fun and social. Who doesn’t want to be a star? But an independent film’s post-production is a solitary work. Editing, motion graphics and colour grading are all tasks people do alone, from home. Without the social component, it is very hard for post-production staff to stay motivated and put a lot of hours. The project seized to be agile…
Meiwenti. No problem. We adapted. Puki Bauer took care of the post-production, completing the phases of editing and colour in the following years. Meanwhile, Rich Millin worked on the music and a small group worked on sound and motion graphics. The pace was much slower but the project never stopped moving.
The idea of an organic film project is more suitable to describe Symbiotic. From the beginning, Juan Vargas wrote the script allowing for actors to give input and, since he was going to be directing the film, to improvise while shooting. The gender and age of some characters were defined during the casting. The script had to adapt to the locations we secured, and the film’s structure was completely reshuffled in editing. While most directors fight to have control of their films, Juan embraced serendipity form the get-go. It was a big gamble, no doubt about it, but if there is no way to control things in real life, why should we try to control the stories we imagine?