Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Stick to your profession - Ivo Adam meets Heinz Julen

Ivo Adam is one of the most interesting characters I know. When I heard I had to write a story about a joint venture between Ivo Adam (2x World Champion Chef) and Swiss celebrity artist /architect/ designer, Heinz Julen, I saw it as an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary. The big question was: Would they be brave enough to do it? Well, working with artists one probably has the best possible chance of a crazy idea being approved. Here's a few pictures. Commercial below.

A Sub Graviti Production
Starring Ivo Adam and Heinz Julen
Directed by: Xaver Walser
Music by: Roland Frei
Sound Mix: NJP Studio
Mitch Bekk

For more on Ivo and Heinz, visit &

Friday, 21 December 2012

My happiest days in the city of London

Who would have thought that I would ever be in a position of teaching. What can someone possibly learn from me? It is a strange, but kind of satisfying feeling. 

I was asked by a Zurich HR company to do some journalist and camera training to help them improve and spice up their monthly video podcast interviews. I know how to physically do it all, but to actually say it in a way that even I understood what I am talking about, is something! For most of the content I would have to give my London BBC mentor Philip Darley the credit. All those magical days working at Lombard Street Research laid the foundation for great story telling and making a talking head dynamic and interesting. My wife always said that my happiest days in the city were the days filming with Phil.  

The training day went just great and ended with a well earned piece of meat in excellent French company. Special thanks to Marc for making it happen. Until next time my friend.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Love has no Boundaries - The Documentary

Little more than a year ago I finished a 20 min documentary for the Children Beyond project. Now finally after the film has been broadcast and had lots of screenings worldwide I can share it on YouTube. 

Concept by Regula Curti
Produced by Beat Curti and Erwin Bach
Music by Roland Frei
Narration by Tina Turner
Directed by Xaver Walser

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Writing an Authentic Story

Eight days in India took me from East to West, South to North and through every kind of emotion possible. 

Some days I feared for my life as we weaved through the congested traffic with countless nail biting experiences around every junction. Just a few hours later you find yourself lost in the heartbreaking stories of the HIV children as you cannot hide a tear rolling down your face. India is a place of extremes and any cinematographers dream destination.

The main purpose of our visit to India was to do research for a cinema documentary project that has been in the pipeline for some time. One can think you have the best ideas and hope to write the story in the comfort of your office safe back home, but without taking the time and effort to actually go there amongst the people and feel the place, hear the sounds, experience their stories, one can forget about writing an authentic story. 

It was an eye opener in every sense of the story. I quickly realized that I had a very good chance that a character suitable for the film would appear. That's just what happened and suddenly the direction the film was unfolding was all so simple and clear. The ideas were rolling in faster than I could write.

Without going into any details I would rather just share some stills from the moving pictures until I have some material to share on my site. I hope I can go back soon, surely not for the traffic... but the images are the driving force.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Life throws opportunities at you and it's all about your attitude taking it on. When Cartier came around I knew I had to do something special, regardless the budget. That's exactly what happened. A story was born and a new crew quickly came together. What I like most is when people tell me: "You can leave that up to me to find a solution" and I can concentrate on the story at hand. Beatriz Vazquez is one of this rare species who does exactly that. She studied to be a mask make-up artist but had to handle everything from make-up to hair and costume. I only needed to give her guidelines and she got it right every time. 

Our Model Diana Meyer deserves a lot of credit. Walking for 3 long days on high heels is surely not a joke. Towards the end she had about 20 plasters around her feet, but I admired the way she never complained and was always keen to do take after take. In the beginning I thought I need to explain every take in detail but I quickly realized that she had better and more original ideas if I just left her to her own devices. 

Lastly my gaffer on the shoot was Mauro Villagran. No task was too great for Mauro and everything always with a smile. Again I cannot stress enough how important it is if people don't complain and just do their job.  It rained almost every day.. that was what I was hoping for to make the shoots more dynamic. I wanted to have, like the world puts it, bad weather. But yes. bad weather in my eyes are great filming weather. After covering more than 1200 km of Switzerland I hope the film turns out good. 

For those interesting in the gear. Below is a brief list
Camera: Red Epic
Glass: Arri Ultra prime, 16mm, 32mm, 50mm, 135mm 
Zeiss Compact Prime: 50mm close
focus and 100mm close focus.
ND: 3, 6, 9 SE 3, SE6, SE9
Arri Mattbox
Arri Follow focus
Lights: 3 X Litepanel
Oconner Tripod

Special thanks to
Tanja Hiltebrand from Option Model Agency.
Roland Frei from NJP Sound Studio.
Cartier, Zurich, Geneva and Luzern for catering and make us feel at home in every city.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Zermatt Unplugged Film

In April I was part of a life changing experience. The Zermatt Unplugged music festival is one of a kind, driven by the Tom Talent machine. These guys are masters at what they do. To show their music festival and do justice to the perfection was for sure a challenge. It was only a small job on a super low budget but deep inside I knew that I had to pull this one off - no matter what. Truly another turning point in my professional career. Here is the film. 

Also a great behind the scenes clip from Anthony Salamin. 

ZERMATT UNPLUGGED 2K12 - Behind the scenes from Anthony Salamin on Vimeo.

ZERMATT UNPLUGGED 2K12 - Behind the scenes from Anthony Salamin on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Swisscom Shadow

A few months ago I was asked to direct a small part of a Swisscom commercial. It was running parallel with the major Swisscom Shadow shoot from Tobias Fueter. It was just surreal to be part of such a huge commercial shoot with more than 160 people running around. For myself I had a 6 person crew to work with and that was an absolute luxury for a guy that is used to doing everything himself. Firstly the biggest challenge was that I had to work with dancers that were not actors. Furthermore, how do you light a shadow and then how do you get emotion from a head without a face. I was overwhelmed - to say the least.

When it came to the edit one had to think completely out of the box to make ends meet. There was really nothing to edit and the only way I could think to make it more interesting was to add some graphic elements to the pictures. Everybody was skeptical with my first cut, since the story board was not structured in this way, but when the clients saw it they loved it and in-fact asked to add even more elements.

With every job there are so many things that can go wrong and on this job it felt like I was always on the edge of disaster. Somehow I was spared another day. Thankful.

My first every greenscreen attempt. 

One more film I recently finished, but did not have the time to show on my blog. This one I am very proud of and truly felt like it was one of my better jobs. 

Music again composed and mixed by Roland Frei. Assistant on the shoot, Anthony Salamin. Producer Ivo Adam, Performance by Olivia Studer and Gioele Guerra.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Losing Grip

On Sunday I spotted this little grasshopper that did not give up for more than 150 km, hanging on my car mirror while I was doing about 125km/hour between Winterthur and Chur in Switzerland. This super grasshopper amazed me with his dedication as the wind blew him around violently and his little body was thrown around while hanging onto the side mirror for dear life.  I could not help thinking of my own life and how we all go through these turbulences that just want to rip us apart while we hang on like it's the last moment. You could just never give up and in that manner you can never lose.

Then at that very same Sunday... my all-time director.. and filmmaker from whom I learned the most, gave up on life. It's crazy..  You think if you could just get there you would be happy. If I could just do that I would be happy... and then this happens. Mr Tony Scott was a hero in my eyes. Films like True Romance, Man on Fire and Spy Game helped me in recognizing a style in my own films. The film from which I learned the most especially when it comes to editing, is the short BMW film, Beat the Devil. In my eyes a master piece. I even once wrote Tony a letter, including 2 Cuban cigars, when I picked up a sound effect from a film that was also used in the BMW short. Well now I will never know if he got the letter or smoked the cigars. So sad... 

And just when I thought the grasshopper was invincible, he ventured too far to the side and lost his grip....

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Rocking June

The month of June was by far the busiest month of my working life. I remember back in January sitting around, not knowing what to do with myself while waiting for the water to freeze on the St. Moritz lake. June on the other hand was packed with incredible jobs. Unfortunately I cannot talk much about anything until it's official, but in the coming months many of my latest productions will become public and I can share it on my blog. If I can single out one person who helped me tremendously the last month then it is Roland Frei from NJP Studios. As a composer he did an incredible job and just proved once again how important sound is for any production. Here is a few pictures I like to share. 
Ruth and Malan helped me with a place to lay my head after long days behind the lens. 
Loving the results.
Roland Frei with his magic touch. 

A winning team of producers, directors and creators. 

Another project starts.
An enormous set-up on a monster shoot. 

My first time working with Ultra Prime lenses. What a difference to just normal compact prime. I understand now why it costs so much money. 

A smooth flowing shooting day with renowned soal singer Marc Sway in a back ally downtown Zurich. 
In studio making it happen.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ivo Adam with his Seven's

Ascona is the Mediterranean of Switzerland and in general hot and sticky and feels like holiday when one goes there. However we had anything but holiday. The Sub Graviti crew worked a very hard 4 days, 18 hours per day. With a fully packed script and on average 4 different locations per day, our main talent, played by Olivia Studer and Gioele Guerra had long hours in front of the lens. Both of them come from a show business background and it's a real pleasure to work with performers of this quality. 

My assistant director was Mr Ivo Adam. He is Switzerland's most famous kitchen chef with two world titles behind his name. In Ascona he runs the Seven Group with 4 restaurants and a club while managing 150 people. He also has his own TV show on National Swiss TV and tons of different products, like books, wine and so on. His attention to detail when it comes to presenting food, was an essential element to push the commercial for correct and appealing food cinematography.

One of the classic scenes that we managed to pull off was a queue of people standing in front of the Seventy7 Club. Two intimidating bouncers and the main cast walking towards the club, while an Aston Martin and a Hummer drove through the scene. Man... it was just spectacular and incredible when things work out better than it was scripted.

In another scene, just before we started rolling at 24h00 down a classic Italian looking street, a beautiful refurbished Vespa motorbike suddenly appeared in the shot. There and then the owner agreed that he could leave it in the street and it just provided that extra edge in making it that little larger than life. This stuff happens all the time. No matter how hard you plan, you need to constantly adapt to whatever life throws at you and this is normally the recipe towards a better product.

Furthermore I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved with the production. Ivo Adam for the organization and believing in the script. Olivia Studer and Gioele Guerra. Gaffer, chief cook and bottle washer, Antonio von Nobel for doing a fantastic job and all the behind the scene photos. Makeup and hair artists, extras, cars, waiters, service, carriers and more. Was an absolute pleasure to be working together.