Monday, June 29, 2009


Unfortunately, not even a Cannes shortlist for me this year. But at my agency Duval Guillaume Brussels they won 4 Cannes Lions. Only bronze ones, but 4 is a pretty good score.

And Belgium won a record breaking 30 lions this year. That's more than double the amount of last year and... more than double the amount of Cannes Lions that Holland won this year. There's no question anymore that I'm in the right country. Although Belgium is small, the country is really strong in the non-traditional media.

Not that the Dutch didn't do a good job. Tribal DDB won the film grand prix with one of the most incredible productions I've ever seen: carousel. It's definitely an example of film at its most innovative.

I did good at the award shows this year, but to win something in Cannes proves to be a bigger challenge. It's so difficult that I think you can fairly say that all Cannes Lion-winners deserve the statue. All of the lucky winners are a big inspiration for me to make even better work before next year's Cannes deadline.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Who's dead?

Everybody must have heard it already: Michael Jackson, the king of pop, died yesterday in a hospital in Los Angeles. 

I'm not a big fan of his music anymore. I was a big fan when I was about 10 years old. I even had records of him. And in the videoclip 'Bad' he seemed like a really tough dude in the eyes of a child. But now I couldn't care less about his music. Still I feel (without sarcasm) sad about this event. With Jackson's dead it's safe to say that a little piece of musical history died with him. And the saddest thing is that he died right before his planned comeback.

Especially the story behind Wacko Jacko's turbulent career intrigues me. He went from an ultra rich superstar to a bankrupt loser in the eyes of the public. His career proves what I already experienced myself: that success is relative. Even his brothers, the once so famous members of Jackson Five, don't earn a penny anymore. If there was a movie about his life, it would be one of the most sensational stories on the big screen ever (a lot of Hollywood producers are probably thinking about a Michael Jackson movie already).

I always have to do with people who go from fame and fortune to nothing. It's a really bad feeling. Especially the fact that you feel powerless. Once the negative spiral has started, it seems there's no escaping from it. And everybody looks at you as the object of mockery, because you're a has-been. Jackson fell so deep, I think nobody can imagine what that must have done to him. And even then he found the strength to plan a comeback. I have the deepest respect for that.

Everybody will probably experience a time when things aren't going like they hoped it would. Jackson's career proves that it even happens to the best. There's no shame in missing a few steps on the way to the top. But if you can still feel good about yourself once you hit rock bottom, then nothing can stop you anymore. From then on things can only get better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking it easy

Sometimes I have the feeling that I've been under too much pressure. I learned to recognize this in an earlier stadium. When you go further with working like a robot it gets worse and worse and in the end you don't have any inspiration anymore.

This week started with a day off, which I needed badly as you can read in the post before. Today it was very sunny in Brussels. I thought: it's crazy to stay in the building the whole time. I think every creative should be able to make good work within the walls of the agency. But today the weather was just too good. So I left at 16.00 to work in the train and at home on all assignments that I still have.

It was good. When I was back in Antwerp I ate some dinner. Afterwards I took a beer from the fridge and I went to the river. There I sat on the bench with my sketchbook while I saw the sun going under and the ships passing by. I was working in the meantime, but in this peaceful atmosphere it felt like spare time. And that's just what I needed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chris Burden exhibition Antwerp

The Beam Drop sculpture at the Middelheim Museum

The Meccano Bridges

Sunday I got out of bed the usual time, which in my case is somewhere after lunchtime. Despite a tiny hangover, I thought It would be a good idea to spend this sunny Sunday outside. So I went to an art exhibition of performance artist Chris Burden.

I already talked about Chris Burden in an earlier post. He's a performance artist. His art-works involves experiences, such as being shot in the arm, lying in a bed in a museum for days in a row or standing on a ladder while below him there's water with a 220 volt cable in it.

His recent performances are a bit less dangerous. In Antwerp he used a crane to drop huge beams of iron in cement, which lead to a spontaneous, chaotic sculpture. You can still see the result of this in the park at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. And of course, in the upper picture.

He also made a huge racetrack with toy cars on it. And bridges made of meccano. It's like fulfilling a childhood dream, but getting paid for it. These bridges actually didn't sound very interesting to me at first. But if you're there, and if you can see the sculptures, touch the sculptures, it's actually really interesting. There was also a video that showed the building of a 12 metre tall skyscraper made of meccano, so if the bridges weren't already impressive enough, this certainly was.

Looking at these artworks, video's and all the other sculptures in the park made me realize that I've been spending too much time getting inspiration from the internet. If you see something for real, you can actually feel the work that an artist put in it. You can experience it. And that is what art really is about, rather than just looking at some pictures on the internet.

Today I had a day off. It was a compensation for the shooting I had on a day that was supposed to be a day off. I kind of needed a little break, especially after such a busy week. For a change, I did absolutely nothing and it was great. Sometimes experiencing something new can be really simple.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A long week in short

Me steering a boat in the canals of Alkmaar

You've probably guessed by now that it's been a busy week. And that is my lame excuse for not writing a new blog article for more than a week. It's Friday now and most of the work is done. I've had the latest reviews and they went very well.

So what happened in the meantime? Here's my week as compressed by Stuffit Deluxe: had a goodbye drink with Victor on Thursday, said goodbye to Victor on Friday and in the evening I took the train to Alkmaar where I spent the weekend drinking beer with my friends, taking my parents to the airport cause they went on vacation and trying to steer a little motor boat through the canals of Alkmaar (on the photo above I look very confident, but in reality I spent the first 10 minutes bumping against the sides of the canal and against other boats).

I had a lot of work to do this week. But luckily I worked with a really good freelancer. In order to get all the work done perfectly and do something extra on the side, I spend a lot of time at work and not enough time sleeping. At least it has been a productive week and even if only half of the ideas we've made will be produced, it would still be a lot.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

In between

"The different layouts look good, but we'd like the backgrounds a bit in between the shade of grey in the second picture and the shade of grey in the third picture". 

"We've heard the different propositions for the music and we had a slightly different kind of music in mind, something in between these two...".

A photographer I work with sometimes, Jean Francois de Witte, once told me that whenever you propose two photographs that to a client they'll always ask for a third version, with a color that is something 'in between'. Maybe it's selective perception, but since that meeting I start to see all kinds of examples where clients want a third version that is something in between.

In my opinion effective advertising should be either so annoying that people want to throw their TV screen out of the window or so good that viewers watch the commercial again on YouTube. In other words, it should get noticed. I personally don't find it very rewarding to go for an annoying commercial, so my goal is always to be effective in a positive way.

But if I look at an average commercial break, it seems that advertisers don't seem to know which direction to go. Especially in times of crisis a lot of advertising is middle of the road, something in between. Sure, they let the crazy creatives at the agencies make a little joke. As long  as they don't make something that people are going to talk about. Can you imagine... And even if the concept is good from the start, clients will give it the 'in between treatment' so it will fade away. Like camouflage in the endless bushes of middle of the road advertising. 

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Longer smoking break

I told in an earlier post already that I'm going to quit smoking for a month. I thought it was a ridiculous thing to do but at least I would know for the first time since I was 13 years old to be completely smoke-free. 

Was it as easy as I expected? Yes, and it was even easier. The first it was a little bit difficult when I saw everybody in the club smoking around me. But that was it. Smoking is moment-related and I had only difficulties on the moments that I was used to having a cigarette. I have to say that I didn't smoke a lot, but even when I multiply the difficulty by three times it would have been quite easy.

Did I notice a lot of changes in my health? No, not really. My condition is a little bit better. I have a little bit more energy. But that's about it. Nevertheless, it feels good not to be dependent anymore. My month is over, so I can start smoking again. But I haven't smoked yet. Maybe in the future I will still smoke a cigarette every once in a while, but at the moment I simply haven't got the urge. So far for my rock and roll image ;-).

No, but seriously... I don't know what the fuzz is about quitting smoking. Pharmaceutical companies are making people believe (by doing research and by making advertising) that it's impossible to quit smoking without help. But these are also the same companies that sell nicotine chewing gum for 20 euro a package. 

Quitting is a mindset. If you can't quit without help you won't be able to quit with help, it's as simple as that. I understand that smoking can be a nasty habit and if you really want to stop, you shouldn't nag about how difficult it is but just stop today. Don't make plans to stop smoking after the vacation, don't do any rituals like cutting through your last cigarettes or smoking the "last one", just stop now and don't think about it.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Standing at a filmshoot in Brussels

On Friday I was enjoying the sunshine and the magnificent view over Brussels while I was standing on roof of the agency. I was looking forward to my extra day off on Monday so I could have an extra long weekend to party. Until Emily, the RTV-planner from Duval called me. If I could do a filmshooting on Monday. Because that was the only possible way to plan it. On a vacation day.

So this morning, while the rest of Antwerp was still asleep, I had to get up at 6.00 to catch the train to Brussels. It's unbelievable why production companies always plan their shootings at abnormal early hours.

There were two shootings on two different locations that day. The first one was at the congress square. The second one was in a bar. Both were short 5 second commercials for a bank. The second one seemed like the easiest one, because all we had to do is make a pan-shot of glasses full of beer. But then we all underestimated how fast foam is disappearing under the blazing hot studio lights. So between every recording we had to juggle with little sticks to make sure the beer doesn't look dead.

At 16.30 the work was done. This day was extra heavy for Victor because last night he worked on school projects and he didn't sleep at all. I took a small powernap when I went back by train. Isn't it great, such a vacation day?