Memberportrait Mass Abedi

"The man on the ground" in Vancouver & Whistler for the games in 2010


Mass, you are a Canadian citizen, born in Germany. You graduated from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Can you give us a short summary of your professional background and describe what your company is doing today?
Well, my career began 1984 as a cable boy and production assistant in the TV Studios in Munich-Unterfoehring, with a company from my hometown Hamburg, Televersal GmbH, while I was studying in Munich. One of the shows I worked on was “Verkehrsgericht”; the other one was a kids show called “1, 2 oder 3”. I learned a lot during that time and in order to be a good production manager later on I had to understand the basics well.
When I completed my studies in business administration in 1988 I quit everything in Munich and went to Vancouver to get involved in the motion picture industry. I participated in a producer’s program at SAIT in Calgary and visited the Vancouver Filmschool. I got production assistant jobs in tv-series’ like 21 Jumpstreet, Wiseguy and Broken Badges, and worked my way into the Director’s Guild of Canada (DGC). You had to be a guild or union member to get into the big Hollywood shows. In 1990 the BC Film Commission sent me to Germany to represent them at the Berlin Film Festival and that’s when I got a job offer to return to Germany in 1991 to start with Tele5. I could not resist and decided to leave everything behind and start my career in broadcasting as a production controller and assistant to the head of production. Soon I got promoted into production management and my first sports event began with the Compaq Grand Slam Cup in Dec 1991 in Munich. We were practically doing history by participating in the development and creation of new private German networks next to the well established two public broadcasters ARD & ZDF which would be equivalent to CBC1 and CBC 2. I continued to work on my career when I accepted a production management position in 1992 with a newly established sportsnetwork named DSF - Deutsches Sportfernsehen. During this time I travelled half the world and learned to respect many different habits & cultures. From Laguna Seca to Yerevan, from Moscow to Qatar, everything was possible. When DSF outsourced its production to the newly acquired Plaza Media Broadcast Center I was promoted to structure a production department as head of production for the outside broadcast units, which literally meant being responsible for all sports live events for DSF.
By the end of the millennium -when I reached the top in sports live production- I got an offer to switch to a young uprising film company, Helkon Media AG, as their head of production. We produced various feature films with actors like Leslie Nielsen. However, the company made a deep dive in the mids of the downfall of the dotcom era. I had no other choice than to leave Helkon behind and go into the consulting business end of 2002 until 2004 when I got a contract with RTL to supervise their biggest project in Croatia (Big Brother). I also trained Croatian producers in monitoring and controlling their projects and structured the entertainment department of RTL Croatia.
In 2006 I returned to Vancouver to get involved in the Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler. I had already observed the Winter Games in Torino for the MPPIA (Motion Picture Production Industry Association) and got very excited when ARD/1st German Television showed interest to hire Abco Film Corp. for my consulting services as their “man on the ground” in Vancouver & Whistler for the Games in 2010. At that early stage of pre-production I used the time by visiting a one year project management certification program at Sauder Business School for Executive Education at University of British Columbia. This gave me a perfect inside view of all knowledge areas in general project management and helped me to broaden my mind as a broadcast executive.
Now, my company Abco Film Corp. is almost constantly busy providing various networks with services to ease up their preparations for the Games. Besides Germany’s ARD, Swiss Television and Dutch Television are on my list of clients as well. But more on the Olympics in the next issue of the members magazine.
You split your time between Europe and Vancouver, is there a place where you feel at home?
You see, when I am in Hamburg I get sentimental, because it is a flashback into my childhood and early years of life. I pass by our beautiful home we used to live in close by the river Alster in Winterhude and think to myself, this house must be now 5 times more worth than when we sold it.
In Munich I spent my unforgettable university years, learned the trade of broadcast production and enjoyed the Octoberfest to the full. In Calgary and Croatia I lived and worked only for one year and miss them both. And in the Congo I was on a Rotary mission to document their work, participating in water well projects. I feel everywhere home and therefore, so to speak, I am a “citizen of the world”. President Obama expressed this phrase once in a speech but that doesn’t mean he introduced it.
You know the media and film business in Europe as well as in Canada, you have worked for many well known media companies, such as Italian Tele5, German Sports Network DSF or RTL Croatia. Where do you see the differences between the film business in Europe, especially in Germany and Canada?
There is a huge difference between the film business and the sports & live show entertainment industry.
When you produce a feature film, a TV-series or a documentary, the project cycles of your product run much longer than in sports events and the show world. Here is an example. For a typical Hollywood feature film you plan i.e. 6 months of prep, 2 months of shoot and another 9 months of post production until the project is completed and delivered to the distributor. In this sense also the life cycle of such a product is much longer than in the sports & show world.
In sports and shows, no matter whether it is live (real-time) or semi-live (real-time with a time delay) or live to tape, we experience much much shorter project cycles. Take i.e. the Olympic Games: preparations for a big rights-holding TV broadcaster start on and off 2 or 3 yrs prior to the event. Tensions then really stirr up 1 or 2 months prior to the event when the broadcast team & crew move project headquarters from their hometown to the location. Everyone is focussed on the project and then finally the Games begin and the network is live on air. Excitement, tension and adrenaline keep flowing, but as routine comes in tension decrease and by the end of the event it is a relief when it is over.
Therefore, since the world is getting smaller with further development and the expansion of the internet and thus all profit from the information flow, I see less differences in the trade between the old and the new world. But people create the difference. In Canada, the crews are well organized in unions & guilds, whereas in Germany everyone is on their own. Also the hierarchy is much more respected in Canada than in Germany. Both, though, have a common interest in: they want to work with each other and that is exciting.


What are your main projects at this time?
One of my main projects are the upcoming Games (of course) to which I have dedicated myself until end of March 2010. But I am open for any projects as of April 1, 2010.
Last month we produced a German speaking pilot in magazine style for the multicultural network OMNI TV (former Channel M), which is currently under review. The show is named ACHSOOO! due to the fact that many non-Germans know the meaning of Achso and implicate it with “I see” or “I understand”. If OMNI TV is happy with the product we will be authorized to produce 52 shows per year for the German speaking community of British Columbia.
Another project is the upcoming Vancouver born company MovieSet, which asks from time to time for my consultation regarding German Producers and the current Market situation. MovieSet is a next generation platform that brings behind-the-scenes filmmaking online, giving fans authentic access through its proprietary toolkit for producers. Here you will find news and information about the company, our people and the platform. This will be a very interesting platform for the core fan community to follow the journey of film making. Since this is a unique idea I was immediately convinced to participate in this project wherever and whenever humanly possible.
On the business development side I work closely within the group of companies with Abco Trading Ltd., currently putting priority on the exclusive import of the high-end tea-brand SAMOVA from Hamburg. We have noticed the increasing demand of tea in various levels of society and found a market niche with SAMOVA. Stay tuned to find out more.
As a member of the Vancouver Rotary Club I have also dedicated myself to their projects in third world countries whenever an opportunity comes up and time is available to go to. I believe in Karma and look forward to more activities within the Club.
What is your favourite movie? Can you name one Canadian movie everyone should have seen?
The choice is very difficult, having in mind that there are just too many excellent movies in the market, but still, my favourite movie is a classic: OMEGA MAN (1971).
Charlton Heston plays humankind's last hope, the last survivor of a hellish, germ-warfare doomsday, fighting off fiendish subhuman mutants that stalk by night.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (2002) is a Canadian project everyone should have seen (by now). The highest-grossing Canadian film is an adaptation of Nia Vardalos’ one-woman play about a young Greek woman who comes out of her shell and becomes her own person as she falls in love with (gasp!) a non-Greek man. Her family struggles to understand why while turning up the volume on the Greekness as they plan for a big, fat wedding.

Profile

Born in Germany and a Canadian citizen, Mass Abedi splits his time between Europe and Vancouver. Educated at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, he graduated in 1989 with a German Business Administration degree. Prior to that, he completed a two years bank internship with the Vereinsbank in Hamburg.
Pursuing his passion for the film business in Canada, he attended the Vancouver Film School, completed the Motion Picture Producer’s Program at SAIT in Calgary, and became a member of the Directors Guild of Canada.
Returning to Germany, Mass went to work for Berlusconi’s TELE 5 Network as Assistant Project Manager & Production Controller. He joined later Kirch Group’s German SportsNetwork DSF and the Plaza Media Broadcast Center as Project Manager for live Outside Broadcasting (OB), eventually becoming Head of the Production Units. His qualifications also include corporate structuring and implementing of a production department as head of production of Helkon Media AG, a former major "new market" feature film production & distribution company in Germany.
In 2001, Mass was contracted as Event Manager for the German-Canadian Co-production Exchange Forum in Munich, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Bavarian Government Funding Agency FFF-Bayern and the British Columbia Film Commission. Besides various other consulting jobs, Mass was later appointed as a Consultant to the HypoVereinsbank Consult (HVB-Consult), helping to evaluate the Kirch Group's film library -after the collapse of the TV empire.
Mass has also been working as a Project Manager for RTL in Croatia, supervising the Big Brother weekly-live reality show, structuring the Entertainment Department and coaching producers in monitoring & controlling their projects.
He brings his skills, expertise and contacts to various committees & organizations in British Columbia, focussing -amongst other projects- on the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver & Whistler and various World Cups in Winter 2009.

His endless project list

  • Production Consultant for major Broadcast-licensee for the Olympic Games 2010 in Vancouver & Whistler
  • ARD Production Consultant for various World Cups in Winter 2009 (Nordic Comb., Cross Country, Biathlon, Speed Skating)
  • ARD Production Consultant for ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2009 in LA 
  • RTL Big Brother Weekly Studio-Show  Zagreb/Croatia live
  • German Unification Day News Hamburg live
  • Compaq Grand Slam Cup Tennis Munich live
  • 2. Bundesliga (2nd Ger Soccer League) Monday's/live, rest taped
  • Doppelpass TV Talk Show Munich live
  • Doppelpass daily/Fifa World Cup France from Paris Studio live
  • Election Day News Schleswig-Holstein live
  • Election Day News Baden-Wuerttemberg Sttgt live
  • Live am Morgen morning show Munich live
  • Ruck Zuck Gameshow 1000edition celebration live to tape
  • WWF European Rampage Wrestling Munich live to tape
  • World Economic Summit News Munich live
  • Cologne Open ATP Tennis Cologne
  • Phillips Open ATP Kitzbuehl
  • Intl’ Dance Tournaments in Latin/Rock’nRoll all taped
  • Supercross (Motorbike-jumping) Dortmund live
  • Icehockey Duesseldorf live
  • Indoor Soccer Tournaments Hallenmasters Munich/Berlin live
  • Eurocard Open ATP Sttgt live
  • Show Tennis Hannouver taped
  • Soccer Koblenz live
  • Davis Cup Tennis Moscow live & tape
  • Icehockey Krefeld live
  • BMW Open ATP Munich live
  • German Cup Swimming Aachen live
  • Honda Open PGA Golf Tournament Hamburg taped
  • Fieldhockey Tournament Moenchengladbach live
  • Intl’ Athletics Meeting Eberstadt live
  • Cajaking Slalom Augsburg live
  • Players Ltd Championship ATP Montreal live
  • Thriftway Championship ATP Cincinnati live
  • RCA Championship ATP Indianapolis live
  • McDonald’s Open Basketball Tournament Munich live
  • Stockholm Open ATP live
  • U21 Soccer Celle live
  • UEFA Cup Soccer Bordeaux live
  • Iceskating Show Oberstdorf taped
  • Qatar Open ATP Doha live
  • Marseille Open ATP live
  • Intl’ Horseback jumping Brussels live
  • ABN-AMRO Open ATP Rotterdam live
  • Intl’ Championship in Swimm. Bremen live
  • Volleyball World League Wuppertal live
  • Volleyball World League Karlsruhe live
  • Stella Artois ATP London live
  • Wimbledon Tournament London live
  • Federation Cup ITF Fft/M. live
  • Fiat Cup Soccer Halle & Aue live
  • 2nd League Soccer all Germ. Live
  • Davidoff Swiss Indoors ATP Basel live
  • Gymnastics 2nd World Qualifications Halle & Aalen live
  • Paris Open ATP Paris-Bercy
  • Virginia Slims Championships WTA NYC live
  • Sportler des Jahres TV Show Baden-Baden live
  • Ice Speedway Grand Prix Motorbikes Berlin live
  • Bobsleigh World Cup Winterberg live
  • Volvo Open Horseback Jumping Goeteborg live
  • Federationscup Ger/Jap Freiburg live
  • Gymnastics Women’s Masters Karlsruhe live
  • Box-World Championships Berlin live
  • Nokia Cup ATP Rome live
  • Box-Night of World Championships Karlsruhe  & Aachen live
  • US-Open Queens/NYC live
  • Soccer Ger/Moldavia Solingen live
  • Super Tour Car Racing World Championship Le Castellet live
  • Icehockey European Cup Final Cologne live
  • Box Night “Rocky’s Nacht” Berlin live
  • Superbike World Championship Series Misano/Speyer live
  • Pro Superbike Series Speyer live
  • Superbike World Championship Series Donington live
  • Superbike World Championship Series Hockenheim live
  • 24Hrs of Le Mans GT Car Racing LeMans live & live to tape
  • U21 Soccer Ger/Armenia Eriwan live
  • GT Car Racing Class Laguna Seca live