Südfilm and its Passion for Storytelling

Steinbeis consultant helps filmmaker set up his own company

Bülent Gençdemir had already been working as a successful technical director in radio and TV for ten years when he took the plunge and decided to become self-employed. He set up his own company in 2016 under the name SÜDFILM, offering “film and TV production from the Breisgau city of Freiburg.” He was supported during the startup phase by Johannes Merkel, director of the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Establishment and Development.

Bülent Gençdemir shot a variety of film portraits for the city of Freiburg in 2016. Even if he is at home in this somewhat technical profession, his heart lies in films and TV productions, primarily because of the exciting stories they recount, tales that fascinate the viewer.

In July of 2016, Freiburg became the backdrop for a TV production shot by AyYapim from Istanbul. SÜDFILM worked alongside the large Turkish film company as a production partner. The film that AyYapim is currently working on is part of a series examining the lives of Turkish guest workers living in Germany. Gençdemir has now started shooting the first episode of a crime story for leading directors of Tatort, the German whodunit series. The two authors – who unfortunately cannot be named here – have written several complete volumes of the successful crime series, so SÜDFILM is highly unlikely to run out of production material.

This made it all the more important for Gençdemir to have a competent partner at his side as he set up his business. He grins broadly as he recalls starting the company, describing the bureaucracy as the biggest challenge. Even now, he keeps running into it. Optimizing the strategy and business plan, setting up the right financing and acquiring equipment, getting support with employment – it was crucial for Gençdemir that the advice he received from Johannes Merkel through the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Establishment and Development was an exact fit with his requirements. He didn’t have time to make basic errors, so he wanted to know exactly what the authorities expected of him and how to go through all the right steps in the right order.

He now has priorities on a different level. Gençdemir has to “cope with lots of projects at the same time, with all the corresponding paperwork.” The Steinbeis consulting sessions were funded by the state of Baden- Württemberg (100% for the first phase) and ESF, the European Social Fund (80% for the second phase, alongside the state). Quite rightly, SÜDFILM is now a success. The question is: What makes a success, and what were the ingredients of success for Gençdemir? “Stories make the world go round, so it’s important to tell these stories properly. I’m passionate about storytelling, so I always derive pleasure from sharing stories with others – stories that people like to hear,” explains Gençdemir, with complete conviction. It’s his foible for telling tales that he also plays to as a journalist when he is writing for a well-known regional newspaper. He has now even written a film script with his business partner Tevhit Özbulut and his hope is that he will soon be able to produce the script for the cinema.

Gençdemir is, in everyday terms, a go-getter, a filmmaker driven by passion. In real life, he’s just like his films: likeable, genuine, captivating. Those are all good things to have on board for a successful future. “To keep up the momentum,” he first needed the professional advice from Steinbeis. And now? He needs a back office, which is already being run by his partner Tevhit Özbulut and another colleague – so the next stage in the development of SÜDFILM has already been sketched out.


Johannes Merkel is director of the Freiburg-based Steinbeis Consulting Center for Business Establishment and Development. Merkel and his team of freelance consultants offer practical advice and coaching to business founders, young entrepreneurs, and the self-employed.


Johannes Merkel
Steinbeis Consulting Center Business Establishment and Development (Freiburg)

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