Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

Intents Festival is right around the corner, which means thousands of visitors have answered the call of this year’s superheroes. The organisation values its themes very highly, so also for this edition they have gone all out with the iconic ‘Calling All Superheroes’. We talked to Remko Hermans, co-organizer of Intents Festival, about the thematic presentation of the event. “We would come up with the theme years in advance.”

Each and every year fans are blown away by the Intents theme, the event that has been awarded best weekend festival of 2018. Coming up with such a grand theme starts very early, so Remko explains. “When last year’s edition had just ended, we were already getting extremely excited about Calling All Superheroes. We made a decision within 4 days after Intents 2018, which means we have been working on this theme for an entire year. Last year, we introduced a new icon, but everything revolved around the anniversary. That’s why this year’s theme was all about incorporating the new Intents Festival logo, and of course superheroes can have it on their chest very prominently. The ideal combination lead us to say: ‘Okay, let’s work on it.'”

“We want to magnify our theme each and every year, and take the visitor on a journey with us”

In 2009, Remko and his team decided to incorporate a theme for the very first time: ‘Natural Insanity’. Ever since then, thematic presentation has been one of the festival’s greatest strengths. “We had been working on it for quite some time, and there were also other festivals with a similar line-up, lightshow, sound and endshow. That’s why we thought: how can we distinguish ourselves from these other events, what do we believe to be extremely epic? We then decided to add a theme to our festival, to which we would adjust all of our stages and show elements. To create a true experience. Back then, it definitely wasn’t the best strategy ever and we didn’t go into as much detail as we do now, but ‘Natural Insanity’ was a fun start.”

You can say the tables have turned now, since you can even find out the superheroes’ favorite food on the website now. A small team within the organisation is working on the thematic presentation full-time, but in the end dozens of people have been involved. “Yeah, this year we have taken the theme even further”, Remko explains enthusiastically. According to the owner, ‘Calling All Superheroes’ really works perfectly. “You do have to put time and effort in to execute everything the right way. We want to highlight the theme and make it stand out: we try to come up with something new every time, and this very first use of superheroes definitely hit the mark.”

Intents Festival - Calling All Superheroes Thema

But how does the organization make sure that it keeps on improving? “With a lot of brainstorms and hoping that it works, because more and more festivals are using a theme nowadays. Personally, I’ve been going all in and started to check out all the stories from these action figures; my girlfriend even took me to Comic Con in Las Vegas for inspiration. It’s fascinating how the makers of Marvel have tied all their movies together: that’s what do with our stages and shows as well. I also noticed that the comic scene has a very dedicated fan base – just like in the harder styles. These worlds are pretty similar actually.”

It even goes so far that the organization has hired character developers, who normally work in the film and comic industry. “There are two options when it comes down to superheroes: taking the easy road and go for well known figures as Batman or Superman. But we wanted to do it our way and that’s why we started from scratch. We had to make up an entire story line for example. That’s how we got in touch with the developers, who have drawn our characters and sketched them out.” They made a front, side and back view of Captain Intents and his fellow superheroes. “It took about 2 to 3 months to finish one character sometimes, because you have the arm a little bit bigger or adjust a different hair color. Eventually we created an entire story and gathered it into an actual comic – which is something unique in the world of festivals.”

Intents Festival

Every character has to fit perfectly into the stages

Intents Festival notices that the theme has grown into an essential part of the event. “Especially over the last couple of years; first we wondered if it was that big of a deal among the audience. Fans usually talk about the line-up or the anthem and give feedback on the sound, the music or when something goes wrong. But later on, people were actually waiting for the theme to be announced and asking for it on social media. We received a lot of reactions on our theme this year. They even remarked instantly that Lady Phoenix likes 200 BPM and therefore she would be present at the hardcore area. Fans are really involved, down to the smallest detail.”

Everything has been thought of regarding the superheroes. “Their backgrounds, what they are doing, how they look like, and so on. We decided in a early stage which superhero had to be linked to a specific area. For example, the ‘Outrageous’ has typical colors every year and some craziness to it. This way, Mr. Insanity fits perfectly to the stage, but we had to create it by ourselves in the first place. The indoor mainstage takes a different approach, since there’s a lot of technique involved. So we adjusted The Bionitron to that. Without spoiling too much, we finally found a link between him and the digital feeling of the stage. This will all be featured, together with the other heroes, and we try to create a city of Intents on our festival grounds.”

‘Heroes of the Night’, the anthem of this year made by Sub Zero Project & D-Sturb, was also involved of course. Remko explains that all the artists work in their very own way to make the track of Intents. “As soon as possible, way before the theme has been announced, we deliver ideas to the artists and they get to work. It’s quite exciting how it turns out: that’s one of the few parts where an organization can’t take full control. But we do that on purpose though: we think that an artist should be free in his creativity. Of course we hope that it matches our ideas later on and it turns out great every year.”

Nothing to be missed: from the mainstage to the food court

The entire grounds in Oisterwijk immerse into the theme of superheroes. “Imagine that it looks like one big city. All areas have to fit each other completely and also the toilet signs need to match. Our camping IntentsCity is also part of that. We want to expand the experience of our visitors for the weekend more and more, that why the festival now also has a exclusive camping stage.” Fans can experience the overall image to the fullest in only one way, and that’s by visiting the festival grounds for the weekend.

Because story telling is massively involved in their events, the organization can translate that feeling into the stages as well. For example, a gigantic birthday cake and an enormous Americam Football helmet have been featured in the mainstages over the last few years. “It starts with a moodboard and the stagedesigner creates a first draft of that. It’s quite flat to be honest, but the trick is to think further than what meets the eye. After that, we all decide if it’s going to work or not. We actually need to build it of course, so some types of shapes have to be edited for construction. Step by step, we solve these kind of issues, although it also needs to fit the budget and time. As long as the image that we have in mind holds up.”

“Quality is very important to us”

It’s quite an effort for the team to deal with the heroic job of building the festival. “We aim to get the fullest out of everything, so it makes us think of creative solutions. But we definitely put ourselves up for a challenge, which we would like to solve of course. Besides that, we think that a ticket shouldn’t cost too much. So we want to offer a huge stage, but the entrance fees as low as we can possibly offer.”

Intents Festival

There are actually tons involved when it comes down to a stage as the mainstage. “The festival needs to be of the highest quality: that’s massively important to us. But we have said to ourselves from the start that Intents should be approachable too – everyone should have the chance to go to our event. It’s becoming difficult when the economy picks up: taxes are increasing, but still we want to keep our prices low.” With loads of details, the people of Intents are served with the finest surprises every year. “I don’t want to give anything away yet, but this year we are going to do something totally different with the entertainment on the mainstage.”

‘We become the heroes of the night’

When the moment of the festival finally arrives, final things still have to be settled. “You are always very busy, during the weekend there are always matters that need resolving. But you definitely also take your time to have a look around: I often walk the festival grounds together with the sound engineer to check all of our sound systems. In this way I still get to witness the magnitude of the event and experience its atmosphere. Of course the terrain is huge and I only have 1,5 minutes per area. So I definitely have to hurry so it won’t take me hours, haha. I also always try to visit the important places to check how everything is going or have a chat, like the artist lounge and partner-deck. Which of course is very important as well.”

Intents Festival

The highlight of the festival for Remko is the closure of the day. “Of course I want to witness the endshow: it’s the part where theme, atmosphere, and production come together and for me it’s one of the most beautiful moments of the festival. Then I realize that everything went well that day, which is kind of an emotional moment.”

‘Miraculous powers come to life’

With 16 years of experience, an impressive resume considering thematic presentation and decors, details will continue to play a grand role in the upcoming editions. “Every year we get the same question: ‘How will you ever be able to top this?’ Of course you hope to introduce something brand new each and every year and we think about this a lot.” Also about the future, the organisation is quite clear. “I would like to create something more beautiful for each edition of Intents. If we can manage to do so, we can definitely be very proud of ourselves. Raising the bar each and every year and continue to deliver great quality. We have a relatively small team, that has to a manage a great deal of work. People often ask us whether we should organize another festival, and even though we don’t rule anything out, it does has to add something. It has to make sense. We shouldn’t organize another festival just because we can, but keep representing quality. That’s what we stand for.”

If we have to name one of Intents Festival’s superpowers, it would have to be its meticulousness. From laying out a red carpet for the aftermovie’s premiere until creating a birth place for each and every one of the superheroes: everything is set up to perfection.

Intents Festival – ‘Calling All Superheroes’ will take place from Friday the 31st of May until Sunday the 2nd of June in Oisterwijk. For more information about the theme and the event, you can have a look at the official website.

Footage taken from Facebook page Intents Festival

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