Andermatt in the spotlight
Especially since the opening of The Chedi Andermatt, Andermatt Swiss Alps has enjoyed a lot of attention from the media. Media icons like The Evening Standard in London, The Times, Die Zeit, ARD or The New York Times have featured reports on the unique project. But such public exposure doesn’t happen all by itself. It’s based on intensive public relations work by the communication teams of The Chedi Andermatt hotel and the Andermatt Swiss Alps AG project company. Over the past weeks, more than 100 journalists have been invited to Andermatt, individually and in groups, and hosted in the village (for more on this, see the blog entry “International journalists’ summit in Andermatt”, 20 January 2014).
Relations with the CNN news office and anchor-man John Defterios had already been established through previous collaboration with CNN on the Orascom project El Gouna. Now this contact was refreshed and a new invitation offered. Weeks prior to the visit, comprehensive material was compiled for the news office in London: fact sheets, background information, video footage, photos. Everything was reviewed by Editor Francesca Church and a storyline was created, which was then approved by the chief editors and the anchor-man.
The next step was to coordinate the trip to Andermatt, so that Chairman Samih Sawiris, Anchor-man John Defterios, Editor Francesca Church and Camera-man and Audio Engineer Stephen Ribeiro could travel simultaneously to Andermatt from four different destinations.
Filming on location for the four-minute CNN report then took two days. In The Chedi Andermatt hotel, the Wine Library was promptly adapted into an ad hoc filming stage, where a long interview with Samih Sawiris was to be shot. Shortly before filming however, the anchor-man changed his mind and wanted to film the interview in front of the fireplace in the lobby. This called for a lightning-fast response by the seasoned camera- and soundman – who had only ten minutes until Mr Sawiris would arrive. Lights and cameras were taken down and set up at the new location. Camera settings were tested. Lights were checked. The chairs were moved to exactly the right spot. The exercise was hectic, but such situations are part of Stephen’s everyday work. Everything was ready just in time for the arrival of Mr Sawiris, and the interview began as scheduled. Part of it was used in the report; another part will be broadcast separately at a later time. The questions were jointly decided in advance.
Afterwards, more footage was shot outside in the village, on the one hand with Samih Sawiris, who patiently repeated the same motions and the same postures, until everything was in the can to the complete satisfaction of the camera-man, and on the other hand for shots of the region, ski destination, apartment houses and the village in general. For an entire afternoon, with vehicles and drivers, we accompanied, supported and guided the CNN team. Of course a ride in the MGB up to Nätschen station was included.
During dinner together, more background information was filled in and ideas for the second day of filming were discussed. One idea was to add a spontaneous interview with a ski instructor the next morning. Fortunately, Marco Arnold from White Emotion agreed on the spot to be briefly interviewed the next morning. The session would take a good hour, including multiple retakes and changes of setting. A sound check had to be made each time. Lights had to be set up, including spots and reflectors. And of course each time a quick touch-up of the face and hair of the anchor-man. Finally, the background had to be just right, and of course the script to the point.
For this, the editor continually formulated the questions and the lead-in for John on her Blackberry. She verified all the facts with us and then sent the approved text by Blackberry to John, who then memorized the text – or used his Blackberry as a miniature notepad – for a consistently professional presentation of the questions and lead-ins. Here too, numerous retakes were required, while the ASA communications team covered the roles of gaffer, traffic director, audio assistant and assistant editor.
In the finished report, what looks like chance meetings on the street or in Ferdi Muheim’s butcher shop are really the best of multiple retakes of carefully planned and staged scenes. The piece was technically edited, cut and produced in London before being broadcast for the first time on February 18. It was a lot of work for four minutes on CNN, but the viewer barely notices the effort. Instead, one feels a strong urge to experience Andermatt. And that’s what the story is all about.
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