Business & Tech

Michaela Pichler: "After the lockdown an upswing will follow"

The Viennese studio "f6 - The open factory" has established itself as a creative space for the local fashion scene. This year it is not only celebrating its tenth anniversary, but also a new artistic spirit after the Covid 19 crisis. Founder Michaela Pichler talks about the challenges for creative work and the new spirit of the industry.
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© f6 - The open factory

International flair: Whoever thinks of the city of New York when hearing the name "factory" may be geographically far off, but the creative atmosphere, which can be found hidden in a side street in Vienna's sixth district, has already captured the essence of the city. Situated in a backyard not far from the Vienna Naschmarkt, white walls, concrete floors, iron columns and a glass roof from the times of industrialisation await you. It is the latter in particular that makes this unique location, which was extensively revitalised around ten years ago, an ideal studio for shootings. A staircase leads up to a classic 100 sqm loft, which offers further possibilities. Operator Michaela Pichler explains the idea to have "An open space for open people. We made this location available to all open-minded people for various purposes. In addition to photo and film sets, presentations, press conferences, exhibitions, photosessions with cars, castings, meetings, and much more are ideal occasions to book into the factory". Although the lockdown made working nearly impossible for a few weeks, people are looking forward to the future with hope, as the woman behind the project, Michaela Pichler, explains.

After weeks of standstill, your studio is bustling with activity again - what new circumstances do you have to work with?
Yes, in fact, right after the easing of the measures we started again with small shootings - including small Austrian labels or Viennese shops, which we are very happy about. Of course, we also had to adapt to the new conditions. Both before, during and after the shootings our premises are cleaned and disinfected intensively. We provide all our customers with mouth and nose protection masks as well as hand and surface disinfection. Due to the size of our studio and several adjoining rooms as well as our own loft, we can also guarantee the required minimum distances at all times. In addition, with the inner courtyard we have a generous open-air area, which provides relaxation at intervals and ensures looseness during breaks. In the run-up to the shootings we also discuss the team sizes with our customers and plan them together according to the specifications. We can already proudly say that all our customers fully support the safety measures and also appreciate our hygiene measures.

What is your economic assessment - can the creative pause caused by the lockdown still be caught up with?
Every day that lies behind us is history. But we are looking ahead positively. Preferably through our daylight glass roof directly into the sky! We firmly believe that the creative hustle and bustle will recover in the coming weeks and months and regain its former strength in the course of the year. Whether the losses can be made up completely is of course questionable. The extent of the economic losses will depend primarily on the duration of the restrictions. After all, the creative scene is heavily dependent on commercial enterprises. But we think and feel positively, and we act accordingly. In my opinion, this is also what makes the creative industry strong. It is precisely this drive that we feel very strongly in Austria's creative scene. In any case, we are sure that the photo industry is developing creative ideas even in these times. On the long run, we are also optimistic and hope that the creative and event scene will not suffer too serious economic losses.

In your opinion, what long-term consequences do these restrictions have for the country's creative industry?
The creative and advertising industry will certainly recover from this situation very soon. Because an upswing always follows a standstill. Customer service is the top priority for our company. Thanks to the flexibility of our studio and our team with a large and competent network of creative people, we have been able to make a name for ourselves in the individual use of our services in recent years. Thus our location at the Naschmarkt is now not only used for shootings, but also for press conferences, events, creative meetings, product presentations, vernissages and even wine tastings. Whenever a cool urban location in the middle of the city is required, the f6 comes up.

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© f6 - The open factory

This year would certainly have been a cause for celebration - will you celebrate the tenth anniversary anyway?
Of course we will celebrate our 10th anniversary. The next few weeks will show in what form, depending on the possibilities available to us. Maybe just with a reminder post on Facebook or a story on Instagram.

Can you tell us your personal highlights of the last decade?
Every project was and is a highlight in itself. Because every shooting, every event, every presentation is completely independent through the individuality and changeability of our location. It fascinates and inspires us that we deal with the most diverse personalities, who never run out of ideas. Highlights for me personally were spending a day at the f6 with Niki Lauda or listening to a singing Anna Netrebko during styling. And on rapper CRO I was allowed to catch a glimpse without a mask for a second. The highlights of the last 10 years are endless...we had many great photographers, companies and brands as guests, extraordinary personalities, beautiful models, crazy artists & actors, loud bands and many, many more. I am especially keen on creating a feel-good atmosphere and, apart from the uniqueness, modernity and coolness of our location in the heart of Vienna, above all to serve our customers perfectly. Since many people like to come back again and again, we seem to succeed in doing so.

The industry has changed a lot during this time - how does this affect the use of the location?
Our idea ten years ago was to create a Viennese meeting place and melting pot for creative people in the spirit of Andy Warhol's New York Factory. Our official name is "f6 - The open factory" and it was our love of abbreviations that led to the creation of f6. It all started with shootings, because daylight floods our studio and the old iron trusses create extremely exciting shadow casts. Then quickly followed the first fashion presentations, PR events, exhibitions, pop ups and everything that makes a very cool location. But the spirit of the founding idea is still very much alive, and that's probably also the secret why clients, creative people and protagonists feel so at home with us. In the meantime we have also become a popular film and commercial location, interview room, exhibition stage and many a speaker is happy about a "somewhat different" incentive location. Influencers have discovered us long ago, of course, and the Instacrowd always finds cool settings in the various rooms.

What other plans do you have for the future?
Besides renting the f6, the further development of our studio is important. With our full-service—photo production we realise complete advertising photoshoots including all corresponding arrangements like casting, locationscouting, booking the whole team like photographer, make up and styling and obtaining all commissions, basically everything that is needed to successfully complete a photo production, even renting hot air balloons if the client wishes. In addition to the daylight studio, our large backstage area is often used for fittings, catering, interviews and of course ppms. Since 2019 we have both a renowned model agency and a stylist for advertising films as partners in our creative hub f6 on board. This enables us to respond even better to customer wishes as quickly as possible and to use the corresponding synergies.

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Besides managing the studio, one of Michaela Pichler's favourite topics are photo shootings with children and families, that can be booked by private clients. With the most modern equipment, cool styling and great passion, she manages to capture memories for the loved ones in the studio. © f6 - The open factory/Bogdan Zhvalevskyi

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