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Tomasz Knittel: I’m Taking the Audience on a Journey06.08.2020

With a rich filmography including ads, documentaries, and many short film forms, he’s made genuine emotion his trademark. Meet Tomasz Knittel, another Papaya Films-represented filmmaker.

He can’t imagine himself doing anything else. After all, he spent nearly all of his life working with moving images and crafting his own visual language, self-contained stories and worlds. In his own words, his path has taken him across many realms—he’s done projects for television, directed documentaries, then moved to shorter forms and commercials. Genuine emotions and authenticity are his trademark and whenever possible, he tries to take up and explore important social issues. “I try to take my audience on an emotional journal and try to draw inspiration from life when I’m working on ads,” the director says. 

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Apart from commercial work for brands such as T-Mobile, Vision Express, Tymbark, McDonald’s, BNP Paribas, Lech, Shell, Łowicz, Kubuś, or Rossmann, Knittel has also filmed a handful of documentaries. He produced his first short film over a decade ago while on a trip to Burma. The picture was a vivid study of places that very few people ever reached. His most recent documentary features include the 2018 picture Universam Grochów, a story about a shuttered shopping mall which was widely considered a phenomenon straddling urbanism and sociology, and the 2019 film Złota, a sparse, almost intimate tale about looking for one’s place in Poland and the modern world. 

“With a documentary, I can touch upon issues I believe important, tolerance and acceptance chief among them. The form allows me to capture a piece of the world that has something important to say about us. I help preserve this sliver of reality,” Knittel says. 

Knittel has utilized his documentary experience to produce PSA campaigns for organizations such as Fundacja Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę, SOS Children’s Villages, Szlachetna Paczka, Fundacja Zaczyn, and uchodź He’s also authored a variety of branded content features for brands like Mastercard, NN Investment, and Żywiec. 

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He loves advertising for the breadth of forms it allows him to operate on—from lifestyle through comedy, documentary, social experiments, up to purebred storytelling. Tomasz also believes that no other field allows the filmmaker the opportunity to stuff an entire story into less than 60 seconds of runtime. When it comes to commercial projects, Knittel is adamant about communication with the creative department and sticking to original assumptions. “In preproduction, I usually team up with the producers to pick the perfect crew for the project, and then try to listen to what they feel and what they have to say. I want to draw on their expertise and their sensibility,” the director adds. 

Tomasz Knittel was also the first director in Poland to direct an advertising campaign remotely. The ad featured real families, who filmed their scenes using their own smartphones. All of principal photography took place during the government-mandated COVID-19 lockdown, without a crew and without leaving home. The project was coordinated live by Tomasz and the Papaya Films production team. The film was shot in only twelve hours and was ready for broadcast 96 hours after the scripts were signed off on. 

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