A look down: two LTM 1450-8.1 cranes and an MK 140 are set up for the filming work and the road has been partly closed for the weekend.
A look down: two LTM 1450-8.1 cranes and an MK 140 are set up for the filming work and the road has been partly closed for the weekend.

Movie star, movie star...

That is how we could describe the filming completed by crane rental contractor BKL Baukran Logistik GmbH in Frankfurt am Main. The result is fantastic – as found by the jury of the German Business Film Prize, which awarded the new BKL film a place on the podium.

Our cranes often appear in film productions. From “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis to the Tatort detective series on German television. Sometimes they are minor characters, sometimes just background equipment. Having a crane as the main star, on the other hand, is a fairly rare event. BKL decided to change all this by producing a new image film. The aim of it was to present a new corporate film at Bauma. “We did not just want to do a typical company presentation. We wanted to appeal to a wider audience with exciting action and spectacular images in cinema quality”, explains Veronika Leger, Marketing Director at BKL.

Veronika Leger - Marketing Manager at BKL
Veronika Leger - Marketing Manager at BKL

Sleepwalking at an altitude of 55 metres

Everybody likes a good night’s sleep in a peaceful, safe and sound bed. This is exactly where the film starts. Crane rental contractors like BKL have to operate with maximum safety and reliability, to ensure that customers can sleep easy. Putting that into pictures as a complete story – that was the challenge. The search for a location was particularly difficult – a hotel-type building with modern architecture, a high balcony and above all a suitable set-up area for large cranes. The cranes had to hoist two steel girders into the air over which a stuntman completes a sleepwalk in safety – demonstrating how he can sleep soundly. The next hurdle was convincing one of the possible hotels that it was a good idea. The company struck gold in Frankfurt. “A good deal of preparation was required to enable the stunt to take place safely at an altitude of around 55 metres”, adds Leger.

Its special story and spectacular images not only place BKL in the focus, but mainly direct the spotlight on the performance of the people in the industry.

Veronika Leger - Marketing Manager at BKL

Cranes and operators – in front of and behind the camera

Of course, the highlights from the BKL fleet also had to feature in the film. They had to be modern and impressive. In other words, they had to be large cranes featuring the latest technology. So two LTM 1450-8.1 cranes set up with a hook height of around 65 metres played the leading roles, together with a MK 140 mobile construction crane with a 45 degree boom angle acting as the lighting and safety crane. For the operators, the instruction was to act with maximum safety, extreme concentration and lots of fingertip control, in other words the same as any other crane job. But they also needed lots of patience because multiple shots from different perspectives were required on the set. This was were the operators, cranes and film team produced outstanding performances – and the stuntman was on a completely different level. The lighting conditions were also important as there was a very limited time before twilight. “We had to decide every week whether we actually wanted to film. That meant everyone concerned had to hold their nerve because in addition to the wind, the weather also had to be perfect for this job. At the same time, the cranes were also required elsewhere. That meant the whole thing was very complex for the crane dispatch team”, continues Leger. In technical terms, the whole thing was fairly simple. The very first rehearsal was successful. The stunt team were able to fit the safety attachments perfectly so that the sleepwalker could continue with no obstacles. And the steel girders on the cranes were wide enough and stayed still as the stuntman walked over them. Everybody was satisfied. But the difference between the rehearsal and the take was massive. As a result of the time restrictions placed on road closures, all the shots had to be in the can between Saturday midday on Sunday evening. For the stuntman himself, in addition to the altitude the icy temperatures in the dark on steel girders were very challenging, particularly as he was not allowed to shiver in his role as a sleepwalker and was only allowed to look straight ahead.

4° Celsius, twilight – the first rehearsals are underway. The safety ropes were retouched later.
4° Celsius, twilight – the first rehearsals are underway. The safety ropes were retouched later.

Much more than an image film and prizewinner

In the film, the crane operators react quickly, deliberately and ensure a happy ending with their fingertip control – just like in their everyday jobs. But the unusual story itself was something new for the industry. Great images, jangling nerves and entertainment were also designed to place the operators and their performance in the spotlight, however.

“The mobile crane operators took centre stage in the film. Particularly now, when lots of new regulations are making working with heavy loads, cranes and logistics even more complex, it is important to show what the industry literally moves every day. The film was also supposed to be a bit of public relations for the industry”, says Jörg Hegestweiler, Managing Director at BKL. The jury for the German Business Film Prize, which is awarded every year by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, was also delighted when they presented the award to the film in October 2022. And we hope that all these moving pictures perhaps also may create a little more understanding for the significance of crane work in the construction sector, which is so important to our societies.

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Interested? Watch the film:

This article was published in the UpLoad magazine 01 | 2023.

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