London and Los Angeles. Berlin and Beijing. Shanghai and Sao Paolo. The Stink network has offices all over the world, and ordinarily the opening of another would simply mark another step in the creative company’s journey towards world domination. Yet the latest local hub is something a little different. It’s also a homecoming.
Stink Films has opened in Prague – the city where it all started for founder Daniel Bergmann.
“We were there for a short, limited amount of time before we moved to London. So it’s where it started and I always had it in my mind to go back there because of the experiences we had there,” says the Czech native, who was also heavily involved in the local art scene before moving into commercials.
Those early experiences in Prague informed the kind of company Stink would grow into, says Daniel. “The way we work, the ethical approach that we just wanted to do all this great work and focus on great creative, this view about the business that is a little bit idealistic… it originated in Prague. Prague is brave, a little bit bonkers and Bohemian – and that’s kind of the spirit of the company.”
Heading up the new Stink Films team in the city is managing director Klára Králicková. Klara’s an old friend of Daniel and has a lot of experience working with the Stink team. Prior to opening Stink Films in Prague, Klara worked at a production company called Savage, which had a collaborative relationship with Stink. There was no desire to compete or cannibalise the market locally, so this relationship continued for several years until the team organically decided to relaunch as Stink Films, in order to leverage the full power of the Stink brand and talent.
Stink Films Prague officially opened on March 1st, and so far things have been going well. “It was actually very good because for the first time we could use the advantage of being part of the Stink family. We’ve shot a job with a Stink director and another one is on the way for Skoda,” says Klára. “So, it’s working.”
The benefit goes both ways, and Stink globally stands to benefit from having people on the ground in Prague. The city has a long tradition of filmmaking and animation and, therefore, access to lots of exciting new talent. In terms of art department and production values, Prague offers a high level of craftsmanship at a budget-friendly cost – and Stink offices in other parts of the world will now be able to tap this expertise more easily.
What’s more, says Klára, local agencies are more open to trying out up-and-coming directors than they are in other parts of the world, so it’s a great place to build up reel. Director Ivan Zacharias will take an active role in mentoring talent too.
“It’s a little bit more free-spirited than in London. You can find creative souls here and the agencies are open to build new reels and new directors and they are quite strong in position with their client, perhaps because the market is quite small. So, they are open to finding new stars basically. They want to be part of it,” explains Klára.
Daniel agrees, saying that the relatively small size of the city means that the creative community is fairly tight knit. And the creative ambition of local agencies and clients is starting to grow too.
“A growing number of Czech clients are becoming more courageous so it’s a little bit easier to experiment; it’s like a lab for us. You can experiment much more, after all we are Bohemians in this country. So, it’s a great opportunity to build talent and do great work and experimental stuff. And as Klara mentioned it’s exceptional because we have a really good sense for detail and we are perfectionists.”
Although Stink Films is based in Prague, the team is also looking at the opportunities to work in neighbouring markets like Slovakia and Hungary. They’re also open to working with Polish clients but acknowledge that while the market is bigger there, there’s also a more developed network of production companies operating.
However, Poland could prove to be a great market for the other arm of Stink, the digital-first creative studio Stink Studios. For now, Klára and the crew are focusing on establishing Stink Films in Prague, but they reckon we could see an official opening of Stink Studios in a year or so. After all Central Europe and Eastern Europe are home to excellent tech talent.
“Czech people are also quite techy and into new things in the digital world. We have a lot of leading people and companies in this area so, for recruitment and building this side of the business, it will be quite exciting,” says Daniel.
For now though, Stink Films is hitting the ground running, picking up projects and scouting out potential talent – and Daniel and Klára can now proudly fly the flag in the city where it all began for Stink.