Ben Schwartz


Only Human: Meet Ben Schwartz

Home is where the heart is for German-born filmmaker Ben Schwartz who has fallen in love with Sunderland. He tells us why he has chosen to make this city his home and build his media production company here rather than anywhere else in the world.

What we do: Schwartz Patrick Media is a factual and documentary TV production company based at the North East BIC. We’re passionate storytellers. We work on everything from the development of ideas and production of projects to camera work and editing. To us, filmmaking is not just a craft – it’s a powerful tool for positive change.

My specific area of interest: I’ve always been interested in the educational side of media production and that has really influenced my CV. I’ve worked lots on kids TV and content for schools, as well as documentary, corporate and factual projects. I live and breathe documentary work – I love to capture real emotion of real people. I find it so much more satisfying and interesting than working in drama. I also feel strongly about giving a voice to individuals from all walks of life. My favourite thing to do is to bring diverse groups of people together because that’s when the magic really happens.

How I fell in love with Sunderland: I grew up near Cologne in Germany and came to the UK in 2012 to do an MA in media production at Sunderland University. I didn’t feel Germany offered the same level of opportunity when it came to hands on learning and I was really impressed by what was provided at Sunderland. I came here with the intention of staying for a year and then heading home – that was 12 years ago! I met my wife Rebecca at university, she was studying on the same course. She’s a Yorkshire lass but Sunderland is now home of choice for us both. We set up in business together five years ago and although we work all across the globe, we come home to Sunderland. It’s a city that has welcomed us so warmly and it’s a fantastic place to study, work and live.

Schwartz Patrick Media

How I plan to share my love of this region with the rest of the world: Whilst it’s really exciting to work on other people’s projects, we also have lots of ideas of our own for TV that we’re developing in the background. We’re in the final stages of pre-production of a documentary about the North East of England. We want to show the world what an amazing place this is and throw the spotlight on the amazing people who live here – kind and welcoming people who in the past have been massively under represented. There’s a huge opportunity to increase visitor numbers and boost the local economy. International tourists are aware of places linked to Harry Potter, for example, like Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral, but there are so many more hidden gems for them to discover.

The innovative route we’re taking to get our documentary made: Rather than waiting for a commission from a broadcaster, which is a producer’s favourite choice, we’re going to take the opportunity to the US and French film market. The BIC’s Tenant Business Adviser Debbie Simpson has made introductions for us with the Department for Business and Trade who are facilitating conversations with broadcasters in Germany. We’re aiming to sell it to a regional broadcaster in the first instance and then potentially others. It’s tailored to a European market that is really interested in travelogues.

My dream is to see our documentary on TV in Germany: I grew up watching German regional broadcaster WDR and that’s where I want our first documentary to go. It would make me really proud to see it on there! When Rebecca and I go back to visit my parents, they always have a list of all the travel programmes we need to catch up on! By keeping up to date with what is popular, we can ensure we create programmes that are in demand.

Schwartz Patrick Media

It’s great to see good things happening in Sunderland: We decided not to fast track our careers by going to London after university.  Lots of our friends did do that, but we stayed here because we loved the place and we knew we could create work even though there were far fewer opportunities at the time. So, it’s incredibly exciting to see what might come our way now that the Crown Works Studio plan has got the go ahead. The best thing about the plan from my point of view is that the right people seem to be behind it. Even without Government incentives, they’ve been such passionate advocates for the region. They’re committed to keeping job opportunities and economic impact in the region. The future is outrageously exciting for the new talent coming through and I can’t wait to see it unfold.

We’re in the right place at the right time: It’s super exciting to see what kind of productions will come here. Who knows what opportunities might be around the corner for us and everyone else. The ripples will extend to all sectors – the positive impact will be incredible. The studio space alone will be great if we need green screen access, for example. We’ll be able to step out of the door of our office at BIC and watch the studios growing across the river. It will have such a positive impact on the North East and anyone else who chooses to make this their home.

Find out more about my business: Check us out at or connect with me on LinkedIn

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