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This is a dream for television makers

I remember well sitting in the car with Ivo Palmen, on the way back from a production, and Duncan Laurence won in Tel Aviv: that means the Eurovision Song Contest is coming to the Netherlands. I want to be there! This is what I want to do! The closer the event got, the more nervous I became, because: who will be asked for this unique production? I feel enormously honoured that I can be there in Ahoy.

Dynamics on stage
I have always watched the Songfestival. As a camerawoman, I especially enjoy musical shows: following all the movements, the dynamics on stage. Soon, in front of 200 million people and… live! This is of course the ultimate achievement for professional television makers. It doesn’t give me an extra kick, because I’d just as soon work for a programme that 60,000 people watch, but the impact of this super production does bring extra nerves. At the Eurovision Song Contest there are four camera women on the floor.

Diagonally through Ahoy
I’m the operator of the flyline. Diagonally through the hall, at ceiling height but still under the light, hangs a cable with a camera. I operate it. Together with a gripper, who guides the frame through Ahoy. The camera can be lowered to the floor. I operate the camera and the lens. With two levers. Just like a crane, in fact. The gripper manoeuvres the camera. I determine the shot.

Grippers from Ukraine
The grippers are from Ukraine: Opertec is the name of the company. They are with a crew of twelve. They also supply two cranes, rails and dollies. The fact that they are from Ukraine means a lot in terms of communication. Sophisticated cues that we have been using for twenty years with Dutch grippers, aren’t there. We speak basic English: mid low, mid high and clearly define the points from left to right. But it goes well.

Every song
The flyline is used for every song, varying from two to ten seconds. We work with a shot list. In Dance Dance Dance the director also decouples the shots. Now all the images are also worked out in detail, in line with the creative wishes of the artists. My mini-shoot list corresponds to the shot list in the computer: in CuePilot. With my camera, we fly in all directions. We first rehearsed with stand-ins, which is quite an honorary job, where dancers simulate the artist’s act in a tight manner. So the performances have already been set up for the direction, lighting and camera crew. Now the delegations have arrived and we are entering the final phase: the show week.

Six days on full speed
On Monday, the day before the first semi-final, we record the whole show. If an artist suffers a heart attack on Tuesday, then we still have his performance. One show every day until the final on Saturday! I am looking forward to that. The songs give me energy and we make beautiful television. It’s six days in a row of working at full speed. Only 5 and 16 May were days off, the Sunday before the show week, after that it’s six days of working nonstop.

Malta, Portugal or France
I really like the fact that we do this together with United; we work very hard, but we also have a lot of fun. The competition falls away on the floor. Sitting together in the bus from the hotel to Ahoy strengthens the bond. The shooting days are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., so we want to get some fresh air in the evening. So we go shopping and sit in the park together. Yes, yes, at one and a half meters distance of course. Play a little frisbee, someone picks up his guitar. A drink. Super cozy! In this way, we are also one team on the work floor. On to the show-week! Malta is high on the bookmakers’ list, but my money is on Portugal or France.