Freedom in remote filmmaking

Berlin-born movie director Marten Persiel craved an idyllic life by the ocean—but didn’t want to leave behind his thriving career in film. With the power of remote collaboration in Dropbox, he’s made both possible.

A man surfs in the ocean
Six years ago, Berlin-born filmmaker Marten Persiel nearly lost his life in a kite-surfing accident. The scary incident gave him pause, and brought his priorities into sharp focus. “While I was recovering in the hospital, it gave me a chance to ask myself some difficult questions, like, ‘If life is so fragile and potentially so short, what are the things I really care about, the dreams I want to realize?’”
Marten Persiel works on an iPad
Persiel, who has directed two feature films, including the 2012 documentary This Ain’t California and the 2021 drama EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE, decided to leave bustling Berlin for a quieter, oceanside existence. He packed his bags for Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small town on the coast of Southern Portugal. He knew he could continue his filmmaking work, which requires near-constant communication with a team of editors, location scouts, and casting assistants in Berlin, with the help of Dropbox. “Using Dropbox means that I have the whole project in my pocket all the time,” Persiel says. “I really can do everything digitally.”

Dropbox has completely changed the way I work. Without it, this life would not be possible.

Marten Persiel walks by a small cottage

Persiel, who used to be physically present for every casting call or location scouting, now does it all through his phone. “There’s a viewfinder app I can access through Dropbox that I use with my location scout,” he says. “I can sit in front of my computer, see what the scout is doing, and say, ‘Hey, can you turn around? Move to the left a little.’ Then I can save those videos to Dropbox.”

The shift has streamlined collaboration within Persiel’s team of editors, location scouts, and casting assistants. “We have a system of working together now that makes it all very seamless,” he says. Using Dropbox, Persiel’s able to view multiple versions of an edit sent over by his team, and take the ones he doesn’t want offline. “I use timestamped commenting to leave a to-do list on the version I choose with things like, ‘Could you try a version where you don’t do this?’ or, ‘Could you try different music here?’ Overall, it saves a lot of time and makes the process much more efficient than engaging in a back-and-forth.”

Marten Persiel edits video on a computer

Persiel relies on Dropbox outside of his filmmaking, too—he’s used it to open and run a coworking space in Portugal, a passion project that brings creatives together under one roof.  “I can use Dropbox for everything administrative, whether it’s using the scanner to keep receipts or track paperwork, or storing all the financial and legal documents that I need to run the space,” he says.

Dropbox has even eased the language barrier of living in Portugal for Persiel. When he’s interacting with someone who speaks a dialect of Portuguese he’s not familiar with, he’s able to tap into his files and show the person what he means. “Maybe it’s a video, maybe it’s a photo, maybe it’s text. It comes in handy in ways I wouldn’t have thought.”

Video and story by Citizen Research

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