By John Pollack
For a bit of fun during the World Cup, the Journeyteam took part in a sweepstake, but since not everyone here is a fervent football fan who rushes home to watch 2-4 hours of games on replay every evening all month (that would be me!), we drew our teams at random. I drew the Netherlands – my second favorite team after Brazil – so obviously it was a disappointing final week for me, but the tournament overall has been great and I was glad to see the final didn’t come down to penalties.
As I watched my assigned Netherlands team play with a half-Dutch friend, we began discussing how his national team’s style was influenced by the tradition of “total football.” This strategy – developed in the Netherlands and showcased by the national team at the 1974 World Cup – calls on any outfield player to swap positions with any other teammate (except the goalkeeper) depending on the on-field situation.
The Dutch team were the talk of the tournament that year with their tight pressure and passion to win back the ball in defense and fluid movement in attack, trying to confuse their opponents then exploit the opportunities they had created. (See Argentina v Netherlands, 1974 – if only this is how Wednesday’s semi-final had gone!)
In 1974, team captain Johan Cruyff was the driving force behind this strategy that led his country to the World Cup final. They lost 2-1 to West Germany, but made a profound impact on how the game is played that still lingers today. When asked about the strategy, Cruyff said “… attackers could play as defenders and defenders as attackers. Everyone could play everywhere.”
As I’ve been watching the World Cup and thinking about how this strategy has changed the game, I’ve begun to realize how much it applies to how we work at Journeyman Film Company. Being a small, evolving company, our production team needs to be multi-skilled. I might be doing research or writing a treatment for a new project in the morning, then colour grading a nearly finished film in the afternoon. I’ll be the camera operator for a few days of shooting, then direct a different project the next week, and fill in as a camera & lighting assistant as needed.
We don’t call ourselves “total filmmakers”, but the fluidity of our production team allows us to more quickly change roles and projects. We value specialized skills and experience, which we seek to develop among our staff and freelancers to establish our “go-to” people for certain tasks, and search for new people that bring different talents and wisdom.
But we definitely encourage our team to share their knowledge in creative development sessions and informal chats so we can improve on what we do and ensure we have a strong “bench” that is prepared when called upon.
This is a tactical diagram from the Dutch club team Ajax, where Cruyff and coach Rinus Michels developed the strategy in the late 60s and early 70s, before bringing it to the world stage.
For junior production team members like myself, doing a variety of jobs is a great way to develop different skills and better understand other areas of production. Knowing how a sequence can be edited makes it easier to shoot and direct… and makes your editor a lot happier!
But like football, just because we can play every position doesn’t mean we try to do it all every time. It’s the collaboration of our whole production team as that scores the prettiest goals, or in our case, the best films, like our ICE Award-winning film for the IWK.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, our office sweepstake was won by the lovely Kate Mosher, who deftly plucked “Germany” from the hat. As you can imagine, her reaction to the result against Brazil was a bit different than mine.
John Pollack is a Jr. Director, Shooter & Editor at Journeyman Film Company and an avid World Cup football fan since the drama of Roberto Baggio lofty spot kick in 1994.