The master storyteller

Interview with filmmaker Andreas Hafele

The metallic rattling sound at the chair lift’s towers, a mountain biker’s heavy breathing – with extraordinary images and sounds Andreas Hafele manages to create an authentic image of Tyrol that is now being broadcast all over the world as part of the new Tyrol advertising spots. The director told La Loupe why advertising has to be honest these days and why a good film requires quite a bit of Tyrolean ‘grit’. 

L.L. / Mr Hafele, your winter and summer spots for Tyrol advertising are quite different from classic tourism films that usually focus on idyllic nature shots and atmospheric music. Why is it that Tyrol presents itself via intense driving snow and the sounds of chair lifts?

A.H. / In my mind driving snow and storms are beautiful, atmospheric weather. Sounds, even those of a chair lift, are music to my ears. The mountains of Tyrol hide so many spots that only show their true power in rough weather. It is my goal to sensitise the observers’ eyes and ears, trigger observations and memories that constitute that alpine attitude to life. For the Tyrol advertising spots, we have developed a sort of formula for storytelling that emphasises the sounds – so the way Tyrol sounds – in particular.

Together with my colleague Peter Kollreider’s ‘Höragentur’ (i.e. listening agency), I have developed the idea of giving sounds a stage and consciously counteracting the trend of loud orchestration. In our spots, we let Tyrol sound. And this is also audible in the current spots, where every day sounds become almost musical.

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L.L. / What was the responsible persons’ initial reaction – in a rather conservative Tyrol? How did you convince people of your idea?

A.H. / Tyrol advertising actually liked the film, because the responsible persons there are visionary thinkers. We had a profound debate about the brand value and the photographic imagery. And with our idea of ‘making tracks’ we put this into practise – by leaving traces in the landscape, experiences in the nature leave their traces in us. He deals with the brand’s depth and tries to break up conventions. In general, we try not to do things the way they have always been done. Bad weather is beautiful weather, too, if you present it in the right way. 


L.L. / It’s beautiful to be able to attract people’s attention with something positive. One often hears that advertising must be colourful, extravagant and loud in order to make sure it sticks in people’s heads. Your spot is different but beautiful.

A.H. / It’s not a scandal film, we simply decided to slim down the design. One can film a lift tower to make it look ugly and repulsive – or impressive and photographed in an artistic manner. That was our goal.

L.L. / With your films you paint pictures that coin Tyrol’s international image. Are you aiming to change that image?

A.H. / Of course I want to coin that image, to make it modern and authentic. The sensitivity to media that our target group has is much higher than we like to think and the observers immediately notice whether you’re trying to sell them a fabricated image or whether you’re taking them seriously. And I think you can only win with honesty. The images of the endless blue sky, with the sun shining on the mountains – they are simply worn out, replaceable and have been used by thousands of tourism destinations for decades. As a result, it becomes impossible to be different, to attract attention or leave an impression. Only the combination of cinematic quality and authenticity, the courage to show the famous Tyrolean ‘grit’ are what make the films charming and convincing. I hope that leaves an impression. 

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L.L. / Your spots speak to people who have not yet planned a vacation in Tyrol. Do you know whether that has had an effect on the booking rate yet?

A.H. / Well of course (laughs). That certainly is our wish. I can imagine that the sum of all tourism marketing measures does have a decisive effect on the booking figures. Tyrol advertising has a great imagery and does great work with it in order to be different and come across as innovative. Particularly the strategy of trying to use typographic means and images to break away from the postcard-image and thus choose a different line of communication. The work done here really is of high quality and with a high intellectual claim. And I am happy that that strategy and my way of making films complement each other that well.  

L.L. / What is it that inspires you personally about Tyrol’s mountains?

A.H. / I grew up here so the mountains are my home. What keeps fascinating me over and over again is how many people come to the mountains to do all kinds of sports. Some cycle up or down, others hike, in the walls you’ll find climbers, in the air the hang-gliders – the athletic diversity the mountains offer really is incredible. I personally like to just sit on an alp sometimes.

L.L. / And how do you get there?

A.H. / Via cable car (laughs). 

L.L. / Your production company is called ‘Hafzoo’. That’s a peculiar name – would you share with us what its message is?

A.H. / Hafzoo is a neologism that points at the great diversity of animals in a zoo. We make all kinds of films and spots and we like to feel like we’re in a creative garden, a so-called Hafzoo.

L.L. / You studied production in England. What was the most important thing your learned during that time?

A.H. / ‘Do it. Otherwise you will never know.’


L.L. / How does that go with the Tyrolean way? Do you have to learn to just ‘do it’?

A.H. / I’m inspired by Great Britain when it comes to art, culture and communication but also advertising spots. The British produces leading campaigns the entire world takes as a point of reference. I have a great weakness for the country and a small office in London that we like to reactivate for productions.

L.L. / You’re from Innsbruck in Tyrol but you also lived in the UK for a long time. What is it that Innsbruck could learn from London and vice versa?

A.H. / I think both cities should stay the way they are, it’s the difference that makes them special to me. I enjoy recharging in London on a professional and cultural level and I enjoy doing sports with my family in Innsbruck. Hopping back and forth between the two places helps outsmart my tendency to give in to habit and keep discovering each place over and over. I think that keeps you on your toes. 

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L.L. / Would you say that advertising is a form of art?

A.H. / Art is free, advertising is not. Should you find yourself in the situation of shooting an advertising spot at some point, you’ll see how fragile an idea can become, how a concept that was clear on paper can turn into a flop. So I guess juggling so many inconsistent factors could be considered an art. But then again advertising does have a specific purpose. So in that sense I’d say it’s a ‘craft’ rather than an ‘art’. 

L.L. / On your website it says: “We tell stories”. What stories will be told in the future, what are your plans for the next few years?

A.H. / Hafzoo is presented with new tasks all the time. At the beginning of the summer we’ll be in Helsinki for a new client. What stories will come is something not even we know yet. But when it comes to telling stories we never lack ideas. 


Mountain or valley? Valley.

To me, sounds are like…music.

My director’s chair…is broken.

Authentic is…someone who enjoys dumplings.

My favourite advertising spot: Honda Civic Choir.

Canon or Konica? Leica.

Andreas Hafele

In 2010 Andreas Hafele founded his production company Hafzoo. Up until now he’s shot advertising spots for Vodafone, McDonald’s, Garmin and Tyrol Advertising. In 2006 Hafele won the Young Director’s Award in Cannes for his film “The Sound of Music Television”. His advertising spots have been mentioned in the American Cinematographer Magazine for their innovative style and visual approach, he was awarded a national prize for advertising as well as the popular Venus by the Creative Club Austria. Hafele and his family live in Lans. 

Andreas Hafele Gallery