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2nd September 2013
Balancing act
Title of film: Nationale Nederlanden directed by Koen Mortier
Koen Mortier talks about the military precision preparation for his stunning new commercial

It’s beautiful – the pacing, the tone, the music – did you orchestrate everything beforehand with precision or did some things evolve during the production?

I travelled earlier to Bucharest to see the trainers and their pupils, the gymnasts, so I could talk with them and see what kind of exercises the youngsters could do in difficult circumstances. It was very important for me that each gymnast had a difficult and astonishing moment, because I planned to shoot that moment in slow motion.

Was it all shot in situ or is there some fairly clever vfx work in the film?

Everything is shot live, but there are moments where the gymnast is wired, for instance the boy doing his exercise on the cement mixer was secured and the girl on the beam was also secured. We’d practiced the exercises throughout the whole week and on set for the last two days, so that the young gymnasts could get used to the set and the situation.

How did you cast the gymnasts?

They were all top gymnasts from Romania, so first the production contacted the best clubs and trainers and then they presented their gymnasts. After a selection of about ten gymnasts I went to see and talk with them and as a result I did the next selection. As I’ve been a gymnast (not as good of course) I could explain what I wanted and needed for the film in the “gymnast” language.

What were the biggest challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?

The biggest challenge was to find a sports hall, where we had the possibility to paint, to put in all the materials and then break windows and add water to the whole thing without major damage. My producer Joop and art director Wilbert had sleepless nights about this.

The next challenge was the coordination of all the exercises between the gymnasts and the working men. Therefore we used trainers as the blue collar men and they also coordinated their gymnast personally at every moment of the shoot. Almost military…

Director: Koen Mortier
Client: Nationale Nederlanden,
Agency: JWT
DOP: Menno Mans
Creatives: Bas Korsten
Executive Producer: Sybrig Andringa (CZAR NL)
Producer: Sybrig Andringa (CZAR NL), Joop Haesen (CZAR.BE)
Agency Producer: Suzanne van den Bouwhuijsen
Post Production Company: Minivegas