Wolfsburg, April 17, 2021. This is where the first scene of the new Amazon documentary about FC Bayern takes place. After the 3-2 win, the players clap each other and congratulate each other in the dressing room. A thoughtful-looking Hansi Flick can then be seen in the picture.
He takes the floor: “Men, once more: huge respect for your performance and your mentality.” Shortly afterwards he says: “I knew that it would be very close today because it was a good team. Just great, even if we had to tremble at the end. I’m not saying anything negative, just great that we won 3-2 here.”
Flick is momentarily at a loss for words
There is a short pause and he continues: “Guys, I have something to say to you.” After that he has no words, he swallows and continues: “I think we have a very good and close relationship. It is an incredible pleasure for me to be able to work with you. You have an insane mentality that I haven’t seen before. But I’m also at the end. It is important to me that you find out from me. “Then the camera flies towards the Allianz Arena, accompanied by emotional music.
These are the first two minutes of the new documentation from the streaming service Amazon, which will be released on November 2nd. The myth of FC Bayern is to be brought closer in six parts. Even before the official release, watson was allowed to see three episodes.
“This documentary is a hybrid that I haven’t seen before.”
In these episodes it is already clear that the documentary should be more than just a dull retelling of a season. Rather, the fate of the individual players and officials gives an overview of the club and its history. These stories are peppered with impressions from the cabin from the 2020/2021 season.
Simon Verhoeven is one of the two directors. He puts it this way: “This documentary is a hybrid that I haven’t seen before. The mixed form means that we are also portraying the club in its past and not just running in one season. ” The filmmaker team had to look through a total of more than 2000 hours of raw and archive material and conducted 145 interviews on over 100 days of shooting.
Verhoeven says that he was amazed “how Bayern made more and more possible.” The Munich would theoretically have a veto right on scenes that should not be included in the documentation. Verhoeven states that board member Oliver Kahn spoke openly about the budget and the effects of the corona pandemic. Verhoeven says: “When I saw it, I thought: wow, can we take it that way?” They were allowed to.
But also an anecdote from Bayern’s 4-2 in March against Dortmund surprised Verhoeven. When BVB led 2-0 after nine minutes after two early goals by top striker Erling Haaland, sports director Hasan Salihamidžić said jokingly to team manager Kathleen Krüger: “How good is the Haaland? It’s a machine. Tomorrow I’ll call the advisor.” Although the directors had doubts whether this scene could be used in the final version, FC Bayern allowed it.
Verhoeven explains: “It’s a joke, but also a headline in today’s media landscape. That can be taken out of context. There are a lot of scenes where I was surprised that Bayern say it is done that way. “
Long run for Bavaria documentary
However, the documentary about FC Bayern is not the first sports documentary for Amazon. The “All or nothing” series has existed in English-speaking countries for a number of years. It began with series about football teams and later accompanied the English football clubs Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. With “Inside Borussia Dortmund” there was even a German-language Amazon documentation. But the Bavarians were a long time coming.
Stefan Mennerich, Director Media, Digital & Communication at Bayern Munich explains: “It was a huge step for us. Since the 2000s, since the stone age of the Internet, there have been repeated offers to come to the dressing room. There were also lucrative offers. The responsible athletes have always denied that. That was correct at the time, but the globe continues to turn and the media world in particular has developed and the advances have become more violent. The obvious advantages became apparent: the reach that you achieve, the target group that you reach, the viewing habits that you meet, the charisma of your own brand that you can strengthen. “
“Actually, I said: when the cameras come into the cabin, I’ll stop.”
In addition, they had been in talks with Amazon and the production company W&B Television for years, so that a decision for the documentation was the result. However, the players, coaches and officials also had to be persuaded beforehand. Such a project would only make sense if everyone was convinced. Mennerich tells of long discussions with the coaching team, the team council and individual players: “They wanted to take part. The wheel of time may have turned a little further. The players are used to the media, know documentaries and, in addition to a certain degree of caution, may also have an interest in them themselves. “
One of the candidates who had to be convinced could have been Bayern attacker Thomas Müller. In one episode he says with a smile: “Actually, I said: when the cameras come into the cabin, I’ll stop.” Ultimately, however, the 32-year-old also agreed and spoke in one sequence about his isolation during his corona infection.
He explains the lunch together with his wife at this time: “I was in the basement. There is a glass door by the stairs. I was completely alone. At lunch I sat in the basement in the hallway with a table and chair and my wife sat on the stairs and we waved to each other.”
The big topic of the last Bayern season was the conflict between coach Hansi Flick and board member Hasan Salihamidžić, which ended with the departure of Flick, especially towards the end. Both were not in agreement on transfers, Flick even said “shut up” to the board. The topic is not explicitly addressed in the documentary, but it always resonates. For example, when it comes to the decision that Bayern do not want to extend Boateng. Salihamidžić speaks of decisions that must be made by everyone and therefore must be borne by everyone. Apart from that, there are always pictures from the cabin in which Flick and Salihamidžić pass each other without a word, sometimes not even looking at each other.
Cameraman not always on the air
A big point that is important in sports documentaries is how close the filmmakers get to the protagonists. The second Director and cameraman Nepomuk Fischer was part of the Bayern bubble during the Corona period, had full access to the players’ house and was with the team every day from January 2021 after his own expenses.
Fischer says: “There are 40 people in the players’ house and then you join a group. I didn’t want to be invisible, I wanted to become part of the group.” At the beginning he held back, but gradually became part of it. This can also be seen in how he was called by the players. “In the beginning I was the ‘Amazon Guy’, then you get a name and talk about various topics such as family. I talked to Lewandowski about our children.”
“We have no journalistic standards, we want to tell about people, what drives them and why are they where they are.”
He understood that Fischer did not always keep the camera running. “We have no journalistic standards, we want to tell about people, what drives them and why are they where they are.” Through this understanding work, Fischer became part of the group and even took part in table tennis games within the team: “I lost with Thomas Müller in doubles against Sergne Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich. It was a very tough match.”
However, according to Verhoeven, Fischer was sometimes “put on the lid”. That applied to situations in which he shouldn’t leave the camera on. For example in the 1: 2 bankruptcy of Bayern in February in Frankfurt. In the documentary you can see how he first films and then receives a sign from Flick. Thereupon Fischer switches off. “In general, I have a very good relationship with Hansi. We got along very well on the pitch, also through looks. We filmed the halves. Actually, we could do a lot.”
But Fischer also messed with Uefa. At the Champions League quarter-finals against Paris in April, Fischer snuck into the players’ tunnel before the game. A place that is only allowed for Uefa cameramen in the Champions League. Fisherman: “The players’ tunnel is Uefa terrain. You are not actually allowed to go in with the camera. But I had the thought that if Bayern are eliminated it will be the last picture in our series from the Champions League and it was also Neymar and Mbappé and I wanted to show them differently than just the TV pictures. “
Overall, the mix of serious aspects and interesting background stories is exciting. Be it when Hasan Salihamidžić talks about his childhood in the Bosnian War or Oliver Kahn talks about his burnout. At the same time, the viewers also get an insight into how the current Bayern players are discussing their sprint values or watching football together.