A CINEMATIC RIDE FROM THE SNOW TO SHOES
Nature has always been a canvas and
guiding force for Swedish director Per-Hampus Stålhandske, who created ECCO’s new brand campaign film, ‘Perpetual Natural Motion’. He tells us about his approach to filmmaking and excitement about the project.
From the jagged, snowcovered mountains of Europe and North America, to the flat, simple beauty of the countryside around ECCO's Danish headquarters in Jutland, PerHampus Stålhandske's work has often been shaped by the landscape.
Growing up in a village in northern Sweden, nature was already an integral part of his life, taking on even greater importance after he discovered filmmaking through snowboarding when videoing his friends performing their flips and spins. "I love that filmmaking blends various forms of art into one cohesive piece. Photography, writing, music and fashion are all important for telling the story. A story can look completely different depending on how you perceive it, and what creative decisions you take along the way, and that’s exciting to me," says PerHampus, who for years directed snowboarding films, travelling the world with the athletes in search of untouched powder and the perfect ride.
While he no longer works in the snowboarding
industry, his experiences in the mountains have left him with a deep and lasting connection to nature, which comes across in his collaboration with ECCO, a new brand film called 'Perpetual Natural Motion'.
"When you're filming snowboarders, you're out in the wild and you're
trying to find a way of capturing that
environment. In all the work I've done, including the snowboarding films, I think of the landscape as the canvas," says PerHampus, whose body of work includes a snowboarding documentary that reached the top of the iTunes charts worldwide, and who has spoken in the past of having "a beautiful vision for the world." "I always strive to find locations that bring a lot to the table, but often you don't know what you're going to get until you arrive, and that makes it interesting."
Nature is also at the core of 'Perpetual Natural Motion',
which he says also fulfills the brief of finding a new way of showcasing ECCO's fusion of innovation with tradition and craftsmanship. After being approached by Danish
creative agency &Co, PerHampus says he fell in love with the script straight away — "It was multifaceted, original and on top of that a true story that was very cinematic". His research took him to ECCO's development facilities in Denmark, a tannery in the Netherlands, and a factory in Portugal, but it was just as important for him to get in his car and drive around Jutland.
"I was going through farm areas, looking at the countryside, and trying to understand what ECCO is, and what inspires them as shoemakers," says PerHampus, who lives in Stockholm.
"I wanted to learn what they do and how they do it, and who they are as people and what they are as a brand. And also to know what inspires them, and that's obviously nature."
Authenticity is also a theme running through his films. Even if PerHampus' work is about elevating reality, he says it is still about real people and real places and real stories. "The film that
I made for ECCO, it's a commercial, but it's real — it's very much rooted in reality and what Denmark, the people and the landscape are really like."
Every time he makes a film, PerHampus tells a story, but also attempts to create an atmosphere. "I suppose it's kind of an abstract thing, but I try to produce a sensation or a feeling that hits the viewer on a level that's maybe not apparent from the first watch," says PerHampus. For 'Perpetual Natural Motion' this led to a collaboration with Danish composer Martin Dirkov, whose score blended a violin with electronica and symbolised the fusions in ECCO's approach to shoemaking. "Music is a huge part of my work, and I especially liked collaborating with Martin on
this one, as music is so important for
The score only accentuated the bold feeling of the film. "It's amazing how much trust and support ECCO gave us for this film, and I'm very grateful for that," says PerHampus.
"In a way, it's quite a bold film about a shoemaker and it's rare to see a brand be this untraditional."
A horse features in the film, as do thousands of starlings performing their 'Black Sun' or 'Sort Sol' formations in the skies above the local marshlands — a name given because they sometimes almost block out the sun. There are also sweeping shots of the landscape.
"To me, this was a good representation of what Denmark, and what nature, has to offer. Nature in Denmark is very simple, but I think it's that simplicity that makes it so beautiful," says PerHampus. "Apart from one section showing
sand dunes, which are in northern Denmark, all of the outside shots in the film are from just around the corner from ECCO. I wanted to show where the company is rooted, and what they stand for, and I tried to use those elements to make a compelling film."