The #TomTomBandit project

// In the beginning of my filmmaking career, many of the clients I worked with were relatively small, mostly sports teams and local businesses. Now, I still have those clients and I still love to work with them very much, but generally there’s been somewhat of a shift towards bigger clients and bigger projects. One of those was a big international project with GPS tech giant TomTom a few months ago.

In the second week of April I got a call from my buddy and fellow filmmaker/photographer Michiel Rotgans, saying he had a secret but really cool project lined up and wanted me on board. He asked me when I was available for shoots ‘somewhere in Europe’ in the next month, but what the project was exactly he couldn’t say, first I had to sign an NDA.

To create the web commercials for the TomTom Bandit camera we filmed 3 different action sports with 3 athletes in 3 countries – all in one week.

Quite excited to work on something very secret for such a big brand, I quickly signed the NDA. Less than an hour later Michiel called me with the big news: TomTom had been working on an action camera and needed a series of promo videos with some of their athletes. I was instantly excited. In this day and age of leaks, rumors and speculations I was amazed the company had managed to keep this a secret for so long, and that I got to be a part of the team was even better. A smaller part than what I’m used to I must admit (90% of my projects I do as a one-man-band), but that didn’t make it any less cool.

It actually opened a my eyes a bit, and it was cool to see how things happen in the big production world. You see, Michiel and I were actually hired by TomTom through Lukkien, a big production company in the Netherlands that usually does all the commercials for the company. However, Lukkien didn’t have much experience filming extreme sports and because Michiel and I do, we were brought on to shoot with the athletes on location. All in all we directly worked together with an editor, colorist, sound engineer, producer and last but not least, a representative of TomTom who also joined us on all the shoots.

After we got confirmation of the first two athletes – downhill mountain bike legend Danny Hart and freestyle bmx rider Desmond Tessemaker – the project really started. We made some calls to make things happen a.s.a.p. – selecting locations, discussing things with athletes and client, moving shoots for other clients that didn’t have tight deadlines, booking plane tickets, hotels, rental cars, et cetera. Three days later we were at Schiphol Airport, ready to head to the South of France to film with Danny Hart. Since downhill is the same sport I’ve been enjoying for years myself, it was pretty cool to work with a former World Champ for a day.

The camera’s sensors select your fastest and biggest tricks as highlights, after which you shake the wifi-connected phone, and voilá: it gives you a short edited video, instantly ready to share.

Besides filming action shots we also needed to capture action and portrait photos, interview each athlete and get footage of them in interaction with the product. The focus here was on the most impressive feature of the Bandit camera: its shake to edit trick. It’s the main thing that sets this camera apart from all its competitors like GoPro and Sony. Basically the Bandit has a whole range of sensors that collect data about your speed, your movements and the forces you’re put under and uses this data to edit your footage for you. It marks the biggest and fastest jumps, spins and tricks you did as highlights, after which you set how long you want your video to be, shake the phone that’s connected to the camera, and voilá: it gives you a short video of your most spectacular moments, instantly ready to share.

When we finished up with Danny we drove back to the airport, got some sleep, flew back to Amsterdam, dropped off the footage with the producer and then drove straight to The Hague to film with athlete #2, freestyle bmx rider Desmond Tessemaker. Both Michiel and I already knew Desmond quite well so although we still had a lot of stuff to do, this shoot was a bit more relaxed with some jokes and witty comments from us all. Working with talented athletes is already great in itself – when they’re also your friends it’s ever better.

Six days later we were at it again, this time heading to Norway to shoot with professional freeskier and X-Games gold medalist Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen. We shot in the ski resort of Geilo where Tiril grew up (her grandfather even build most of it) and where she is a bit of a local hero – a young girl coming up to her for an autograph wasn’t a unique happening. She even has the slopestyle park named after her, and both a smoothie and a burger at the local restaurant, but nontheless she’s still very much down to earth and lovely to work with. For me this shoot was extra special since I actually have Norwegian blood and have been to Norway many times, but never in the winter – until now. So that was really cool.

This was in more ways than one a very cool project to be a part of and I’d like to say many thanks to my buddy Michiel, the guys at TomTom and everybody involved. I had a great time with the team and am well happy with the results! If you haven’t already, check out the videos above and get yourself over to the TomTom website to learn more about this amazing camera.