Local, fresh Pacific Northwest ingredients paired with Vancouver’s vibrant restaurant scene are celebrated in a new commercial for Destination Vancouver directed by Mads K. Baekkevold and produced by Wallop Film.

Fresh off the announcement of the Vancouver Michelin Guide launch, the new commercial honors the region’s range of ingredients, from the Pacific Ocean to vast farmlands and a unique mix of different flavours. Mads brings the story of the region’s unique foodie to life, traveling between some of the city’s best restaurants and greenest pastures to meet the city’s celebrated chefs and culinary masters.

Q> What experience as a director did you bring to the table in this one?

Mads> Getting started on this project was, quite simply, ridiculously suited to my personal tastes and past experience. I love food, I love travelling, I love recommending things to people and making them emotional. I have lived and worked in Asia for almost a decade where I was always on the hunt for the best little hole in the wall with the most delicious soup dumplings, or local speakeasy bars with mind blowing baijiu cocktails. My previous long-term clients include the Marriott hotel group, who basically asked me to do the same thing as Destination Vancouver: focus on what makes this particular place in the world so special to visit, and convey that to a broad audience.

D> What was important for you to include in this story, in addition to the people you chose to interview in this commercial?

Crazy> Diversity is something incredibly important to me and I am very happy to have been able to work with a production company, agency and client who all take it equally seriously and make sure disparate voices are heard.

In terms of places and ideas, that means not just going to fine dining restaurants (although those are definitely represented). It also means seeing something real, seeing where the food really comes from, the farms and fishermen who bring BC’s produce to your plate. From the beginning we were adamant that this shouldn’t be a superficial piece, it should be authentic, genuine, somewhere between commercial and documentary. Nothing is fake.

As for the people interviewed for the commercial, I wanted real, genuine and passionate voices. We have chosen three chefs and a restaurateur, because obviously they need to tell their story, all with very different styles and backgrounds. We had a farmer, whose perspective and passion really shined through. And the incomparable Inez Cook has expanded on Vancouver’s history with Indigenous cuisine – not touching it would be inexcusable, and I’m so grateful we were able to integrate her into the story.

Q> Can you describe your process in working with the client and the team?

Crazy> Wallop Film helped me choose the crew, which I am immensely happy with as a relatively new person to Vancouver. Together we have brought together a host of other crew members who I will definitely be working with again after this. I believe in creating close working relationships with the crew, conveying an atmosphere on set where it is a clear collaborative process where people can chime in with their ideas and thoughts.

For me the most crucial role of the director is to be a weather vane on set. If the director panics, the crew panics. So even if you’re stressed about things not going as planned, it’s your job to lead by example and steer the proverbial ship through rocky waters. (Thankfully, the waters were as smooth as melted butter on this set.)

Q> Is there anything that convinces you about what you learned during the process?

Crazy> In practice, I’ve learned a myriad of things: where the food comes from, how it’s prepared, indigenous history, how much I have yet to explore here in BC…the list is endless.

Also in terms of cinema I learned a lot. While this is not my first documentary, and definitely not my first content dealing with food, the authenticity we wanted for this presented a real challenge in terms of staging the scenes. Making the food look good was thankfully handled ably by the chefs, our food stylist and my cinematographer. But filming the actors having dinner is difficult. It may just feel horribly fake: big bug eyes, swallow, swallow, an exaggerated “Mmm!! Delightful!!”.

You can tie this back to my earlier point about being a mood vane: You have to play the consummate dinner host as director. I like to think they brought just the right amount of energy where the cast didn’t have to pretend they were enjoying themselves – they were actually enjoying themselves.

Q> How has your commercial directing experience influenced your process in general?

Crazy> Over the many years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve learned that everyone has a very different creative process. Some people need to be analytical with whiteboards and spreadsheets documenting what needs to be done. Some work better on their own, some with others. A former boss of mine would go to a record store and flip through vinyl without thinking until he had an idea.

I’ll tell you a little secret: my method is to take a bath. Or a good sauna. In Asia I used to go local and percolate with my ideas – here in Vancouver, there are no bathhouses that I know of, but there is an excellent brutally hot sauna near me that boils your noggin and blows your ideas like a steam whistle. Give it a go.

Obviously there was no sauna for this project, but the ideas came from a weekend in nature with friends, food and laughter. I can safely say that I recommend it too…whether you need to be inspired or not. It’s a good time, either way.

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