From filmmaking to photography and back
It all started when Chris Kueper decided to film his parcour students training, to show them how they could improve. His love for film grew into a career, and in 2016, Chris Kueper founded ESCAPE Filmproduktion with some friends. When a client asked him if they could do stills as well, he discovered his passion for photography. His trusted LUMIX GH5 and S1H enable him to do both: ‘When you fall in love with a particular camera system, you don’t want to use anything else.’
Kueper’s career path took a turn when he decided that a future in banking was not for him. ‘I realised that I wanted to travel the world, see new countries, experience different cultures, and get to know people. With a job in banking I would have had to work 250 days to get 30 days off each year to do what I really wanted. I remember saying this to my mum at breakfast. She replied: “That’s the system, you can’t change it.”’ He decided there and then to follow his dream, starting with studying film. ‘That decision not only revealed my passion but it also unfolded my creativity. It still motivates me every day. I mean: what could be nicer than capturing people's lives and emotions, and recording their take on the world through my camera?’ At first he made films for clients with a friend. ‘We filmed at parties and made image movies for clients. The pay wasn’t great, but the experience we gained was well worth it.’
He started ESCAPE Filmproduktion with friends from university. ‘One of our clients asked us if we could do still photography as well. We’d never done it before, so I was inclined to say no. But before I did, I realised I can do both with the LUMIX cameras. My well-equipped and versatile GH5 which I’d previously only used for filming, quickly became my go-to companion for taking pictures.’
In most cases, people begin with photography and start filming later. With Kueper, it was the other way around. ‘It meant I had to stop thinking in terms of movement. With filmmaking, you start with an idea, the story you want to tell. With photography I just see the image before me.
It’s hard to explain, but you know instinctively when it’s a good photo.’ Making a film involves a crew: ‘There’s the scenario, the preparation, filming, somebody monitoring the light and sound, and then hours and hours spent in post-production editing the film, selecting the music, and grading the colours to get the right atmosphere. We strive for a cinematic look and feel.’ However, he can fly solo when taking photographs. ‘I enjoy working with people, not only on the job but during the journeys I get to make. Last year I did an assignment for a travel agency. In just six weeks I went to several countries to photograph the most important sites and beautiful landscapes. I didn’t get much sleep, and I’m eager to return to some of those countries to explore them even more.’
His company is thriving. ‘Our team is still growing. We work for a range of clients, including some major companies. Our work has changed over the years. Nowadays we shoot a lot of material for social media. Especially after these trying times, we’re getting a lot of assignments from companies who want to remind their costumers that they still exist.’ He’s confident about the future, combing photography and filmmaking he realized how his creativity has grown. Having it all in one compact and versatile system, gives him the ideal equipment to fulfil all requirements and to focus on his creativity. `That’s our selling point: we come up with creative ideas to tell their stories from filmmaking to photography and back.’
I spent my youth with parcours and gymnastics. As a young trainer, I wanted to teach the kids the flips they wanted to learn. So I decided to record their attempts and successes with my camera. That was the beginning of my life as a filmmaker. Today, 15 years later, I have developed my own style and gained valuable knowledge and experience from videography to photography and back.
I'd like to tell stories and make my viewers pause for a moment, take a closer look and recognize the small sublteties. I'd like to make the people see the effort and devotion I put into my work. As a producer and director I work for "ESCAPE Filmproduktion", which I founded along with friends in 2017.