Who is Thomas Bierens

Who am I? I am Thomas Bierens, 36 years old, residing in Amsterdam near the picturesque Sloterplas. Sloterplas is the eastern part of Amsterdam where the sun sets last, casting a fiery glow across the entire lake as it dips below the horizon. But let's not linger on that. Instead, let's discuss the new endeavor I'm embarking on with the XSAGA Video label.

For the past 10 years, I have been working as a filmmaker and director for organizations like NTR, VPRO, and various production companies, creating commercials and online videos for major brands. Starting in September, I took on the role of Head of Video at XSAGA Video. Our aim is to become a dedicated film and production house, where I can integrate my current network and expertise, connecting it with XSAGA Video. I am incredibly excited to use this new role to make a broader contribution to the creative, cultural, and especially groundbreaking work that we aspire to produce as a new video production house.

In recent years, we have collaborated extensively and intensively, and with the launch of XSAGA Video, both of us see an opportunity to further expand the label, in addition to the video productions already underway. XSAGA has a truly fantastic team where creative craftsmanship is deeply ingrained. Are we on the same page? I am absolutely certain we are!

Where do I come from?

Coincidentally or not, I come from Hilversum. Our media city. My parents were also active in the TV industry. Was it ingrained in me from a young age? Perhaps.

What is my background?

My background in TV and media comes a long way. From being a cable carrier at RTL's Topchef to a production assistant at Wie is de Mol. From being an editor at NTR to a director at VPRO.

Where it all began for me was my time at the NDSM site with TMF and MTV around 2006. The past wasn't necessarily better, but the music channels on TV certainly were. Waking up with Valerio was the flagship program at TMF and a dream to work for. My interest in music was born there, and the associated zeitgeist and culture have always been close to my heart. Seventeen years later, I've gained a significant amount of experience.

What have I created over the years?

"The stories behind the arts inspire me and, just like with other forms of art, make me think. They motivate and challenge me. The stories behind real individuals intrigue and activate me. Why do they create? And from what creative necessity is this process born? With this mindset, I create programs, documentaries, and portraits for NPO, including those related to North Sea Jazz, Pinkpop, the jazz program New Generation, From South East with Love, Into the Great Wide Open, Andere Tijden, various programs for AVROTROS, and the Amsterdam Dance Event. For VPRO, I directed the eight-part series Muziekstad with a fantastic team and, every year, as the summer's grand finale, the TV special for the Lowlands Festival.

I also have a special relationship with stories from the sports world. Every year, for ESPN, I explore personal portraits of soccer players as part of the Eredivisie Player of the Year award. What strength, for example, do players draw from their faith and how does it help them deal with depression and underperformance? It's beautiful to embark on that journey with them towards something that can bring contentment and peace to your heart

I also enjoy taking detours into commercials. Creating campaigns and online videos for brands like Nespresso, JΓ€germeister, ANWB, Starbucks, and Spa has always been a rewarding challenge for me. The same applies to brands: they need to evoke emotion and capture attention and empathy.

In each of these projects, it's not just about creating beautiful visuals but always about capturing the stories and emotions of the people being portrayed."

What do I still want to create?

"A documentary about the legacy of Diego Armando Maradona in Naples. Walk through the streets of this gritty city, and you can't ignore the murals and images of this saint. Before Diego Maradona's arrival, the football club SSC Napoli was a somewhat obscure team from an obscure city. After his arrival, everything changed, and nothing was the same. A documentary about a prodigy, seen through the eyes of the local kids of today. How do they perceive their hero, whom they've never seen play?

I've already done some location visits, so bring on that documentary!"

What is my dream?

"Copy and paste from the answer above. And that everyone stays healthy. And that there is no war."

Why XSAGA Video?

"The vision and determination to create inspiring stories are what unite us. This, combined with the XSAGA DNA, results in enchanting and inspiring narratives. Under the XSAGA banner, more and more videos have been created in recent years where a creative concept and storytelling take the lead. Many people at XSAGA come from the television world, which means thinking in visuals is in our DNA. We see an opportunity to establish a distinctive label in the (crowded) market of video production houses. Even in commercial projects, we try to showcase the whole world around them. This means that XSAGA Video produces films that may not necessarily feel commercial, but they are emotionally impactful and thus have a commercial influence.

"I'm incredibly excited to use this new role within the label to make a broader contribution to the creative, cultural, and especially groundbreaking work that we aim to accomplish."

Where do I see XSAGA Video in 10 years?

"By that time, I'll have a full-time job just dusting off our trophy cabinet... Just kidding, of course.

Filmmaking is a team sport. In 10 years, I want to have built a community of creators and program titles. We'll also be further in format development and creating compelling films that serve as a window to new perspectives. How fun is it to brainstorm and pitch for projects that align perfectly with our work ethics, vision, and DNA? For me, it's crucial to do something you're passionate about and derive fresh energy from every day. That's how you become better at what you're good at, and it rubs off on the colleagues around you too".