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spain special 4 4 salmÓn

salmÓn 4 5 spain special

salmón director barcelona

When it comes to Spanish shooting talent, director Eivind Holmboe, aka Salmón, is something of an oddity – most intriguingly because he is, in fact, not Spanish at all. He grew up far from the Costa del Sol in the much chillier fish-rich climes of Norway, hence his Spanish directing alias, Salmón (pronounced sal–mon). Add to this his former success as an agency creative in the US, and the enigma deepens. But having inadvertently sealed his fate in the land of sun and sangria eight years ago, Holmboe has capitalised on his otherness and become one of Spain’s leading filmic lights. “My work obviously has a lot of Spain in it, although I wouldn’t really know where that is,”

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ponders Holmboe, “but I think my work ethic comes from being in the US and its

competitiveness, while I think I get my attention

From a Spain-based

Norwegian former pro skier with a fishy moniker you’d expect nothing less than

quirky innovation – Isobel Roberts discovers a visionary director with global reach and a long list of dreams to detail and self-irony from my Norwegian side.” It was after a brief career as a professional skier that Holmboe set in motion his desire to become photograph: albert roige & carlos garralaga

a director. A self-confessed meticulous planner, he armed himself with a rigorous strategy that began with a stint at art school in San Francisco, studying advertising and filmmaking. “I figured if you couldn’t cut it as a creative you probably couldn’t cut it as a director either,” he says, “but if you could be a creative, you could sit next to any director you wanted and learn, and shoot your own stuff when the opportunity arose. And that’s how I went about it from day one.”


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Before he’d even graduated, Holmboe had lined up work at agencies in LA

perfect to get those brands on my reel, and this year, I’ve gotten big scripts

and went on to freelance for, amongst others, David and Goliath, Deutsch

that have more substance, and I’m starting to work in other countries.”

and Leo Burnett. In fact, it was by complete coincidence that he ended up

Talking about his adoptive industry, Holmboe comments that Spanish

working in Spain. Back in Europe in 2001 for a period while his paperwork

advertising is more about what it isn’t than what it is. “It’s not as funny or as

for the US was sorted out, a friend suggested that he hook up with Rafa

irreverent as Argentinean work, for example, and it doesn’t have the

Anton, creative director at Vitruvio Leo Burnett in Madrid. “I just thought

simplicity of British advertising, so very often in awards shows Spanish work

I’d go and hang out in Madrid for a couple of months. Then Rafa and I got

suffers as it doesn’t feature ideas that you fall in love with at first sight.”

on really well, and two months became four, then six, then eight,” he

“But what the Spanish do shine at,” he explains, “is car advertising.” That

remembers. And so, when he did then move back to LA, the pair kept their

certainly explains the impressive throng of brands on Holmboe’s reel.

partnership alive. Travelling back and forth to Spain, and across the globe

“But that doesn’t mean that the Audi or BMW spots from Spain beat the ones from Britain. They’re still often a bit contrived, and the thought processes are always

(Below) Skoda Parts and (bottom) Audi Beings

long. But what Spain does have is a very classic cinematic tradition.” Regarding his own creative approach, Holmboe describes himself as very mathematical. “The directors I most admire,” he expands, “are those like Murro and Kleinman, who seem to be able to do anything, and their work looks different every time. That’s what I really want. People say my

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work is recognisable, but I don’t see that. I hate it when someone says something’s not my style, because I think ‘what do you mean? I thought I could do anything!’” But his reel proves his adeptness at tackling different genres. In a recent Audi spot, Beings, he effortlessly marries beautifully framed shots with a narrative simplicity, and while another spot for

“English isn’t always widely spoken here. I remember one job I did for ONCE, the Spanish lottery run for and by the blind; I had

Skoda again demonstrates his cinematic flair, its subtle humour completely transforms its style. In complete contrast, his spot Street for Seat

a two-hour meeting in Spanish when I knew fuckall and couldn’t

reveals a choreographed street dance in rewind

use gestures or point at pictures to explain myself...”

and is pure old-fashioned fun. “When it comes to languages, I don’t speak

to work on international pitches, Holmboe steadily built up his reel – and in

anything perfectly anymore,” he jokes, “but my experiences have helped a

2004 made the leap to directing full time.

lot in my work. Here in Spain I think I fall into my own category, even just

“At that time my reel wasn’t too big, and I wasn’t comfortable with knocking

purely image-wise. Directing is a very competitive profession, and you

on people’s doors looking for US representation,” he explains. “As a very

should absorb all the advantages you can, whether that’s being from

green director I thought that was kind of ridiculous so, even though I was

multiple cultures or reading a lot of magazines or whatever.”

living in LA, I started directing for the Spanish market.” Having signed to

Despite his success, there are still more dreams to cross off on that long-

Got Films in Madrid, Holmboe set about diligently building his reputation.

term list of his. A move into the US and Britain was always on the cards, and

“It was cool, but also difficult to begin with,” he concedes. “It’s not like Italy,

he is signed to Carbo Films in the States, but with the global credit crunch

where they hire lots of directors from outside; here they really like to work

rearing its ugly head he’s prepared to wait for the right creative opportunity.

with local people. Back then I didn’t speak the language much either, and

Right now, he’s got other fish to fry. Having discovered a passion for writing

English isn’t always widely spoken here. I remember one job I did for ONCE,

while at art school, in 2007, he wrote and shot an acclaimed short, Diente

the Spanish lottery that is run for and by the blind; I had a two-hour

Por Ojo (Tooth for an Eye). He is now looking to shoot a self-penned feature

meeting in Spanish when I knew fuckall and couldn’t use gestures or

film. “It’s about a girl screwing her way out of small-town America, titled

point at pictures to explain myself.”

Wendy-Kaye,” he explains. “In Spain, the film and advertising communities

But Holmboe’s distinctive Scandinavian approach to humour, complemented

are completely separate and no one in the film industry has much faith in

by his cinematic style, got noticed. And, as the transatlantic flights mounted

anyone from the advertising industry,“ Holmboe reveals. “Some directors do

up, a permanent move to Spain four years ago was inevitable. “I’ve been

move into film, but then they don’t move back again to advertising as they

really fortunate,” he says. “Two years ago I did well in Cannes with smaller

get all embarrassed about it. We don’t really have any Spike Jonzes here, and

jobs, then last year I felt I had to accept bigger scripts that weren’t quite

that’s who I want to be,” he grins. The directing world better watch out.


Director Profile - Salmon