Director Billy Pols recently did a commercial for Transavia together with hazazaH, the production company that represents him in the Netherlands. Though in itself craftfully made, that’s not the reason why we’ve made him Talent of the Month. The reason is the recent release of an impressive teaser for the documentary Zombie he shot over the past years with skateboarder Tim Zom, who is sponsored by Nike.
We asked Pols how this project came about:
“A few years ago, after making the multiple award-winning documentary Plank, I was approached by Dutch TV broadcaster BNN and asked if I would be interested in making a feature length documentary on any subject I liked. I was slightly hesitant at first, since making a feature length documentary is no joke, but told them about Tim Zom – who I knew from my own skateboarding days – and the kind of film I wanted to make about him. What I like about Tim is that he is not your typical clean-shaven Nike sponsor material. He is actually the kind of guy who was dealt a very bad hand in life, but who was able to escape destiny by being an extremely talented skateboarder. To my surprise the project was approved in no time.”
How did the production go?
“It was by no means an easy documentary to make. The preparation took about a year because we first had to gain the trust of the people and sponsors portrayed in the film. It helped a lot that I knew Tim already for quite a while in getting accepted in his life. This was actually crucial for the film to succeed. Then a year of filming followed.”
How could you combine this with your commercial work?
“I took a sabbatical from my commercial work. Maybe not a wise decision in times of crisis, but like most creatives who work on personal projects, I prefer quality to quantity. After the first year I shot a few commercials when Tim was on tour or when the ad scripts were too good to let go, but besides those exceptions, I was completely dedicated to my movie.”
What do you think of the result?
“Zombie is not what you expect; I hope it gives the kind of insights you’ll never forget. And think there’s a nice balance; as the teaser shows it’s raw, personal and authentic, but at the same time it’s cinematographic. In any case, I am sure Tim Zom is going to blow your mind, both on and off his skateboard.”
When and where can we see it?!
“We are in the last editing phase at the moment. If we finish on time the film will premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, next January. After that in cinemas around the country and on TV – later next year. I’ll be heading to L.A. this month to talk about the international premiere.”