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Eurovision backstage: Greetings from Portugal

17 June 2018 at 09:30 CEST
Cesár Sampson, Austria's representative in the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, films his postcard in Portugal. ORF/Pascal Peterson
Before each performance during a live show, a 40-second video featuring a performing artist is shown. This so-called postcard introduces the artist and is recorded in the months leading up to the event. Filipe Messeder was in charge of the postcards this year, we ask him how on earth he was able to arrange 43 recordings throughout the country within a short period of time.

Filipe Messeder works as a producer at RTP, the Portuguese host broadcaster. Filipe started working on this year's Eurovision postcards back in November 2017. How did he come up with his concept and how difficult is it to arrange such an undertaking? Filipe tells all.

Not sure what a postcard is? It is the short video in between performances during the Eurovision Song Contest. Ever since the early days of the contest, postcards have been used to allow national commentators to introduce the next act, while producers prepare the stage for the next performance. All of this takes place in less than 40 seconds!

The entrance door to Europe

Every postcard shows a door and the artist steps through it. As Filipe explains: "The artists appear from nowhere, into Portugal. Our country is an open door to diversity, to other cultures and to other people. After they 'step into Portugal', we take them on an experience: the Polish artists went to the world surfing reserve, Latvia's Laura Rizzotto went standup paddling in the Algarve and Belgian singer Sennek went sailing in the Tagus river."

You might have noticed that the ocean is a recurring theme in the postcards, matching the All Aboard slogan of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Filipe explains the theme by pointing out Portugal's geographical location: "We are the most western country in Europe and the oceans are part of us and our country. This is a relation we wanted to show. We see ourselves as an entrance door to Europe from the ocean."

Heavy scheduling

Scheduling recordings throughout the country takes quite some effort, as Filipe and his team of around 30 people started working on the concept in November 2017. The team came up with the locations and activities in December and whilst location scouting in January. The first postcard was recorded in February of this year.

Filipe explains how long one recording takes: "We asked each delegation to reserve four days: one travel day, two full days in Portugal and one day to travel back home." Since the postcard only shows 40 seconds, why does he need two days of recording? Filipe: "We wanted to record mostly outside to show the beautiful weather and country. But the weather wasn't always on our side, so we needed a backup day."

We would like to thank Filipe for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions during the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.