Beautiful camera work by Dutch cameraman Ben de Graaf (30) went viral this week. His 129 seconds one-take shot during Holland’s biggest football rivalry – Feyenoord versus Ajax, in the legendary stadium ‘De Kuip’ – made a huge impact. On football fans and the industry. OSA had a talk with this multi-talented Dutchman, who suddenly but deservedly is in the center of attention and is now nicknamed One-Take-Benni.
Ben, tell us: what happened?
“I am a freelance cameraman. I do sports, but also short movies, commercials and music videos. For quite some time now, I am frequently asked by directors of Dutch football games to provide some extra beauty shots. Catch the atmosphere. That sort of work. Most of the time I do this wireless. Since April I work with a new kind of stabilization system: ‘the Movi’. It’s on the market for a year now. Because I already have a lot of steadycam-experience I thought it was interesting to buy this system. I invested 20.000 euro’s.”
Your opening shot of ‘De Klassieker’ was breathtaking… following the goalie to his goal, knowing only a few weeks earlier he played for the archrival Ajax, the opponent that day. How did you prepare for all this?
“The Movi system allows you to make beautiful long shots. Because of that the director (Job Robbers, Endemol Sport) and I came up with the idea to do something with that. When players enter the field, you know a few things will happen for sure: the handshake, the toss, the huddle. And we of course knew of the goalkeeper storyline. So we already thought about following him. The shot itself was not rehearsed. There was a lot of improvising going on there, because you also have to deal with photographers walking around for example. And you never know how players react.”
I noticed the players hardly looked into the camera, which of course is great. How come?
“I was there from the moment they stepped out of the bus, hours before the game. And I shot a lot during warm-up already. So I think most of the players were used to me being there already. The goalie (Kenneth Vermeer, OSA.) only looked into the camera once. Really short, five seconds before kick-off. I was also using an enormous wide lens, so I few times I was really close to the players. When I followed Jordy Clasie (captain Feyenoord, number 6, OSA) I was only two meters away from him.”
How wide spread is working with the Movi-system in your business?
“It is a beautiful new tool with which you can come up with new ways of filming. You can make shots that have never been made before. That makes it really fun to use. I have done long one-take shots it more often already, but this was used live, so that makes it extra special.”
“I love to film football. Something unexpected always happens. I would love to keep on filming sports, but also keep on doing other sorts of work. I would also love to work on feature movies. The mix is perfect.”