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The Directors: Henrik Rostrup

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Nicholas Berglund director on his passion for honesty and how shooting with Hugh Jackman became one of his favourite logistical challenges

The Directors: Henrik Rostrup

Born and raised in Paris, Norwegian director Henrik Rostrup was introduced to filmmaking when a friend gave him a Bolex 16mm camera, encouraging him to film his friends who were professional skiers, snowboarders and explorers. Jumping at the chance to pursue something different, he spent several years adventuring around the globe in the back of van or climbing snowy peaks capturing dynamic personalities and extraordinary lifestyles.

A small hobby turned into a career, as Henrik became one of the few who helped shape the sports film genre, making groundbreaking ski films and documentaries, hailed today as classics by audiences worldwide. It was through these early experiences, surrounding himself with inspiring personalities, whether it was on a sailboat in Greenland or filming at 14,000 feet in the Swiss alps, that shaped his interest for human storytelling. Since then, Henrik has directed films for Reebok, Gore-Tex, Netcom and Cisco, exploring emotional drive and motivation. His work is best described as intuitive and personal, always looking for immersive experiences with 


Name: Henrik Rostrup

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Repped by: Nicholas Berglund

 

LBB> What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

Henrik> Most scripts get me excited! 

I’m always looking for something small or a crack in the wall. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a ‘perfect’ script. The jobs I’m most proud of came from nothing and grew together with the agency, client, production company and all the film crew who worked so hard on it. If I was looking for that particular script, I would’ve never seen it. 

With every script I look forward to growing, learning, traveling, meeting new people and getting down to every little detail of the story. It can be a location, a character, an emotion or a certain piece of narrative that can get me excited. I’m open to the idea.


LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Henrik> I approach any treatment with any means possible. I write a lot. I study photography and film a lot. I ride my bike a lot and I look for references wherever I think I might find them. There are so many variables in play and I do like to use them all. If possible, I like to write in character and create backstories just to understand where the story comes from. I love researching locations, anything to make it tangible and relatable to myself. If I can fully understand the idea, then I can explain it to others.


LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Henrik> I consider myself a student in most of my interests and will always go to great lengths to try and understand what has brought me to this place. I love doing research and will study and be engaged in every aspect from brands to agencies and clients. It’s vital for me to understand what we can do together.


LBB> For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Henrik> For me it can’t just be one person. There are tons of people involved in making a great ad. Or even more important, sharing a great experience. I think some of my most memorable work came from having a great experience together. Knowing that you are working with good people who aim to make good decisions. Who are not afraid to stand up for others and that are fair, support group efforts and treat every crew member with respect. That person represents the most important relationship a director can have and they can come from any department.

 

LBB> What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Henrik> I’m passionate about honesty. 


LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Henrik> I think that finding these authentic moments of storytelling require more dedication and commitment than sometimes people might think. It can be hours and days and weeks of heavy research, finding out that you can actually shoot something in a matter of three days, instead of four. Or that this mountain top is better than that other mountain top. I love finding those marginal gains that in the end will make a lot of difference. The more we know, the more informed decisions we can make.


LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Henrik> I love being involved in everything from budget to crew. Always working in tandem with our producers. It’s so important that we understand the scope of the job and how we can achieve the best result. I’ve never worked directly with a cost consultant, but my approach would remain the same. We look for the answers in the details and figure it out.


LBB> What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Henrik> Shooting with Hugh Jackman became one of my favourite logistical challenges. 

How to shoot in the high alpine at 14000 feet in Colorado, with 3 helicopters moving crew, A-lister with entourage, stills photography, five company moves, approaching weather, seven hours limited shoot window and so on…The answer? Magically good planning, great crew, amazing client, agency, production company, patience, luck and some last minute decisions we could afford because we’d done our homework. 


LBB> How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

Henrik> Before I became a full-time commercial director I worked a lot on the brand side for various sports and outdoor companies. I still do a whole lot of creative consultancy and work on ideas, representing the client in partnership with agencies, so you could say I’m used to being on both sides of the table. I have high respect for anyone trying to accomplish anything no matter what chair they’re sitting on.


LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Henrik> I’ve always been very interested in mentoring and helping out people. It’s been in my nature since I was a kid and won’t change. A lot of kind people have given me a lot of lucky breaks and I aim to do the same.


LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

Henrik> I’ve always worked a lot from home and travelled for jobs, so in a sense the pandemic didn’t change too much for me. But I love that we are having more video calls instead of phone calls nowadays.


LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Henrik> I think the primary format is our most important format. I love that we are able to extract as much as possible from any shoot, but it's not always a given. I think our spot for Vodafone is still the most viewed on Vodafone Germany’s Youtube channel and it’s close to 2 minutes long. And anamorphic!

 

LBB> What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)?

Henrik> When I was a kid I started out shooting 16mm cameras and fell in love knowing everything about that process and how I could use that to best capture a story. I’ll approach any piece of technology the same way if it’s available to the project.


LBB> Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

Neom

This was just a pure filmmaking adventure and I loved every minute of it. Very, very beautiful place, but then reality hits and you have to make good decisions with the whole team based on the vastness of the area. Just too much to choose from. So as always we’re trying to make the most of it and be ready to run. I have to mention also that some of the people from that shoot I became friends for life with and we speak every week. Love it!

Vodafone

Just a one of a kind experience. Lovely time with DP Paul Meyers and the whole team in Slovenia, Tempomedia and agency Jung Von Matt. The script came from nothing and we all fleshed it out together. Still can’t believe we made a two minute film and not a 30-second spot which first was intended. So much fun!

Montblanc

As mentioned earlier, hanging out in the high alpine with Jackman was cool. But spending 10 days in prep running or flying around to every mountaintop was an equally wonderful experience. Also, Taratino shot the opening scenes of Hateful Eight in the same location and we were feeling the vibe!

Enel

I still love this spot because it was such a hectic shoot and so many unknowns. I think we shot for 9 days and we were always on the go. A lot of my background came from sports cinematography and documentaries and I love still having that mindset. Always staying curious and looking to capture dynamic moments.

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Nicholas Berglund, Wed, 06 Apr 2022 08:27:32 GMT