We Set Up the… Guinness Dominoes

We spoke to Weijers Domino Productions’ Peter-Eric Verstegen about his crucial role on the shoot of the latest Guinness ad

CR: Tell us a bit about Weijers Domino Productions – how did the company come into being?

PV: Weijers Domino Productions b.v. is a Dutch-based company, which was founded in 1989 by Robin Paul Weijers. As a student, Robin actively participated as a builder and coach in several domino world records, starting in 1986 with the KLM Domino World Record in Lisse, The Netherlands. He was one of the 45 students who were part of this project. Setting up dominoes gave the students an overwhelming feeling: Robin realised increasingly that domino is an art form, a sport and a great communication tool. He thought it could be great project for TV. After the project, he gathered fellow domino enthusiasts along with a television director in The Netherlands and started his own company.

CR: How many people are there in the company now?

PV: Now, 18 years since its inception, the company consists of 17 professionals – a mix of project managers, art-directors, designers, technical engineers, graphics, logistic, team communication and marketing experts.

CR: Tell us about your role in the new Guinness ad – did you work with the director and the creatives at the ad agency before the shoot, during the creative process, to work out what kind of thing was possible?

PV: Yes there was a series of preparatory meetings in which we counselled the director in all things topple-related. We worked on the designing the toppling trail, advised the crew, prepared props on location, and were responsible for testing several techniques outside on different heights and scales. Our crew was also responsible for devising and setting up the opening domino scene, the supervision and building of all the toppling sets, including set up, hot-phase (taking safety structures away) and also the toppling. In addition, we were required to re-build some parts of the sets when necessary. Our most experienced technical engineers worked on location at the shoot.

CR: Where was the shoot?

PV: The advert was shot on location in a remote mountain-side village called Iruya, in the Salta region of northern Argentina, it has a population of around 1,000 people.

CR: How many of you worked on the ad and were on the shoot?

PV: We had a team of four experienced domino specialists each with between three to ten years experience (one technical art director, one project manager and two technical consultants). This team was assisted by a crew of around ten to 15 specialists on location, who were technically skilled craftsmen and stage-hands. The project manager was on location for 18 days, technical consultants for 15 days and the technical art director for three days. A massive 24 hours of footage was captured during the shoot – all to create the 90-second advert.

CR: What objects are used in the Guinness ad besides dominoes?

PV: In the whole ad we toppled loads of stuff including 6,000 dominoes, 10,000 books, 400 tyres, 75 mirrors, 50 fridges, 45 wardrobes and six cars. You’ll also see hay bales, books, paint pots and bread sticks being toppled. To give you an idea of the meticulous nature of setting up toppling sequences, just setting up the dominoes on the tables for the opening sequence of the ad took a team of three experts two days. It took just 14 seconds to topple!

CR: How many separate sequences of toppling objects did you have to set up to make the ad? Which one was the most challenging and why?

PV: We created six different outdoor sets and one main set indoors – called the domino room. To be honest, this indoor set was the most challenging part. This was mainly due to the fact that we were working within a rather fragile set and we couldn’t sit next to the dominoes. So we had to stand up all day and we were setting up dominoes that were often a good arm’s length away which made the process really quite physically challenging. But we succeeded within the time frame and with the minimum of dominoes falling before the action started.

CR: Tell us about the outdoor sequences that you set up…

PV: Our team was dedicated to those sequences in the ad in which the featured objects had to topple in one take only. Our experience in ‘sure topplings’ was crucial. Interesting for us was the fact that the bulk of our experience is with regular forms of dominoes and obviously in this ad we were toppling objects of all shapes and sizes, which was very challenging but also enormous fun to do!

CR: What’s next for you guys –  another World Record attempt?

PV: Our current 2006 record is 4,079,381 dominoes toppled in one chain reaction. In order to break this record we are going to set up 4.5 million dominoes for our 2007 attempt, which is taking place on 16 November.

To find out if the record attempt was successful visit dominodomain.com

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig 
MJZ executive producer: Debbie Turner
MJZ producer: Nell Jordan & Suza Horvat 
Advertising agency: AMV BBDOO
Creatives: Angus MacAdam and Paul Jordan  
Agency producer: Carol Powell   
Production company: MJZ (Argentina)
Editor: Rick Russell @ Final Cut
Audio: Parv Thind @ Wave
Domino experts: Weijers Domino Productions
Director of photography: Ellen Kuras
Crew: Pioneer Productions, Buenos Aires




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