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Ahoy here we come!

Goosebumps! I was so proud when I stood on top of the viaduct in Maarssen with my colleagues, where the ‘white train’ of OBVs and support vehicles of NEP and United drove under the bridge in a majestic procession to Rotterdam. Ahoy, here we come!

TV history
We captured a promo video on that bridge. What a cool sight that was, when that enormous caravan approached on the highway. I saw that passing motorists were impressed by the scene. It wasn’t the unique combination of NEP and United that caught their attention, but the Eurovision Song Contest logo. For those who haven’t realized it yet, this blog is mainly about the international song festival, where we will write TV history on behalf of the Netherlands on 18, 20 and 22 May.

That image of the white caravan is one I will not easily forget. This moment symbolizes the preparations of the past few months, in our own ‘Eurovision office’ at NEP headquarters. All the work to make the logistical puzzle clear for our crew – complete with all the corona scenarios – fell into place. Our ESC office looked empty and deserted when we had packed up everything the night before. From the Media Park to Rotterdam. On to Ahoy.

Helicopter view
As Project Supporter of the Eurovision Song Contest, I function as the right hand of four project managers: Eric van Engelen, Jacco Smuling, Peter Schuurmans and Jacqueline Pols. This means that I try to take over as many tasks from them as possible, so that they can focus on matters that require immediate attention and can circle around the project with a helicopter view. I think it is very cool and special that we work together with this team for such a long time and so intensively, because normally you hop from one job to another. With this team, supplemented by Client Manager Suzan Peetoom, we are a good match both professionally and personally; we really complement each other…

"I want the crew to feel as comfortable as possible".

Walking through the TV compound of Ahoy, where we arrived yesterday with NEP and United, I see that basic things that were already arranged in Hilversum with QR codes for corona protocols and accreditation actually work. Great! I want the crew to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible. For example, we made a vlog so that colleagues can see in advance how the arrival procedure goes on the first day.

Two worlds: one mission
I really like the fact that the two worlds of United and NEP have come together in this mega project. We have united the best Dutch mediatechnology companies in a dream team. No competition, we are one team on the work floor. Two companies, one mission: delivering a top performance that will be seen by more than 200 million people. I watch the show every year. Before I started in this role at Project Support, I was a cameraman for ten years and I have always watched the Eurovision Song Contest from that camera perspective. This is the best of the best in TV production land. If you watch the Super Bowl halftime show, it’s a great production, but camera-wise, the Eurovision Song Contest is the crème de la crème. I am looking forward to the show! It’s going to be a special experience to watch it from our project room in Ahoy on a large monitor, with the sound of the director’s intercom on, while I’m not behind the camera myself.

Guide the way
On the way to Rotterdam, when we were driving our car back to Ahoy, this thought crossed my mind for a moment. What if I would drive to the Song Contest as a cameraman? Of course, that would have been cool too, as I have a weakness for the camera profession. But looking at the white column in my rear-view mirror, I also realize that my position as Project Supporter has given me the opportunity to see this prestigious project grow over the past few months. Now I am concentrating on our crews that are coming in. I want to get them ‘up and running’ as quickly as possible and show them the way in Rotterdam. On the spot, I will anticipate practical questions and wishes. Bring it on!

Mega job
The workload is impressive. In terms of logistics and facilities, this is an unprecedentedly complex puzzle, but thanks to the extra year in between, it looks as if we will be able to spot pitfalls in time and hopefully avoid them. Knock on wood! Especially since we are doing this mega job with two large companies, it is crucial to keep the overview and to make sure everyone knows what you are doing. With my counterpart at United, Anniek Verhagen, I am constantly in contact. Fortunately, we can build on the logistics plan that was already in place before 2020. We have developed a great system in which information comes together in different places and flows through to each crew member in real time. That insight helps us tremendously. And we also created an integrated SMS service in which we can pass on all kinds of information to the crew, such as the daily departure times of the shuttle bus for the crew. I am really looking forward to the next four weeks. What a special job we have, I wonder how we will feel when the last shot is taken on 22 May.