Qatar Airways and Kingsday 180 inject some glamour in the air
Posted on February 20, 2019 | By Mark Tungate

Qatar Airways and Kingsday 180 in the Netherlands have recently launched “A world like never before”, a craft-packed spot that takes us on a magical and musical journey.

The film was produced by RSA Films (Ridley Scott Associates), which explains its cinematic appeal.

The director was Ben Scott, chosen in part for his ease with big productions, gleaned from his work on films like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Beach and Far North.

The starry crew for the Qatar spot also included director of photography and double Oscar nominee John Mathieson – who shot Gladiator and Phantom of the Opera – while the production designer was Jonathan Lee, who art directed feature films Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and Elizabeth.

All of which adds up to a very big ad indeed. To go behind the scenes, we fired off a few questions to Kalle Hellzen, Executive Creative Director at 180 Kingsday.

How does this epic spot fit in with Qatar Airways' brand identity? Have they run similar campaigns before?

Qatar Airways was named the “World’s Best Business Class” by Skytrax in 2018, and the new brand campaign is a natural extension of that luxurious, unique and innovative passenger experience. ‘The World Like Never Before’ is a first articulation of a new brand operating system that brings to life what’s at the heart of Qatar Airways in communications and beyond.

How difficult was it to get the green light for such an obviously pricey and premium film?

Qatar Airways have the ambition to be the best in what they do. Their communications reflects that. We had a very clear vision and ambition and they were very quickly on board with that. They saw it as the perfect embodiment of their brand and their product promise.

“We filmed on the biggest sound stage in Europe. Over seven days you saw these different worlds being built in front of your very eyes. Ice rinks being frozen, Hong Kong streets being constructed in mid air, seas being recreated with silk.”

The Hollywood/Bollywood style is deliciously retro. What makes it attractive and relevant to contemporary travellers?

Great cinema and travel do the same thing in that they take us to places of wonder and excitement. It makes us feel, and as such it makes us more human. It’s a fundamental need to want to be delighted and excited, and it never grows old, no matter how old we are.

In a film crammed with effects, what was the most difficult one to achieve?

CG effects are used routinely in film making these days. The ambition with this film was to try and do it the hard way – capturing as much as possible in camera. From the hand-painted set designs to the silk that was used to create the sea in Doha, or the harnesses used to fly the actors through Hong Kong neons. Post production was used to make the whole production seamless and add polish and the final magic to the film.

The film is collaboration between some major talents. How hard was it to bring them all together?

We’ve been extremely fortunate to have such amazing talent like Director Ben Scott, DOP John Mathieson and Production Designer Jonathan Lee believing in and adding to the vision from the beginning. All in all, we had more than 200 crew from four continents on one of the largest green screen stages in Europe, and it had an ice rink. Of course, a production of this scale will always have its unique challenges and it was quite difficult at times, but nothing our amazing 180 Kingsday, RSA and MPC crew couldn’t handle. It also helped to have great clients around that empower and believe in us and what we’re ultimately making together.

Can you share a behind-the-scenes anecdote that sums up the project for you?

We filmed on the biggest sound stage in Europe. Over seven days you saw these different worlds being built in front of your very eyes. Ice rinks being frozen, Hong Kong streets being constructed in mid air, seas being recreated with silk. Hearing the First AD shout “Now we head to Doha” or “Everyone to Hong Kong” and turning around to see that city emerge in front of you made you realise we really were in a world like never before.