MEET PIETER VAN TWISK
During our 'MEET's' we meet up with inspiring people and we talk to them about issues that play a role in the world of MARIE-STELLA-MARIS. Our last meeting was with Bibian Mentel, founder of the Mentelity Foundation and multiple Paralympic snowboard champion. This week we meet up with Pieter van Twisk, director of Africa Interactive, a media company with a strong social objective.
Commercial with a social conscience
\"Africa Interactive is a media company with a strong social objective; strengthening the media function in third world countries and other emerging economies. We produce video, photo and text material for our customers, using only local media professionals.
By using local talent we offer them a source of income and give them a voice. Because people talk too much about developing countries and too little with. Started in Africa, we now have a network of over 3000 local media professionals across the globe. From Peru to Nepal to Tunisia we contract local talent per project.\"
How do you guarantee quality whilst working with professionals abroad?
\"Well, isn’t that our secret? It requires a lot of investment, particularly in the communications. African media professionals are not used to producing for a Western audience. However, by working with very extensive briefings and scripts, and specifying what we do and don’t want to see, we can avoid that.
All our media professionals are selected using trial assignments. And we provide feedback – ‘this you’ve done well, but this could be better.’ Meanwhile, our best people are so good, we barely have to give them any instructions. Just like working with a Dutch media professional.\"
Where lies the strength of Africa Interactive?
\"Africa Interactive has a high level of goodwill, companies like to work with us. Not only because we are cheaper – we don’t fly-in any film crews and therefore we save a lot of cost. Think of tickets, filming permits, visa, security and hotel costs. But also because we are ‘social’. Nowadays, companies very much like to work with organizations that aren’t only focused on profits, but also on helping people.\"
A good video?
\"A good video should do something to you. It should cross over borders or bring something innovative. For example, \"Radi-aid' of Africa for Norway. A viral campaign wherein they mock our perception of Africa. The video puts you on the wrong track. As a viewer, you think, 'How could this be? ' That’s brilliant, very funny!
Preferably, I would like to make those kind of movies. Because they invite you to use your creativity and you can play with the perception of people.\"
What characterizes you?
\"I believe I am good at motivating and enthusing people. And I enjoy doing that. It fascinates me to find out what moves people. What makes people do what they do? And what is their ultimate motive?
I also have a very associative nature. I see lots of things. Where other people often only see the road when they drive a car, I notice everything around it. Deer, birds of prey ... I see and register it all. That’s often also how it works with problems: rather than just the problem, I see a lot of things around it. And that’s often where the solution lies. Six years ago, when I started at Africa Interactive, we had build something beautiful in the core but didn’t use it in the right way. By changing the business model the company grew rapidly and became profitable again.\"
\"I like to be alone and often enjoy it. Around my 30st I regularly went to the Pyrenees by myself. Traveling the mountains with just a backpack for days, walking and writing. The first night was often scary. As was the second, and then it was over. If felt amazing to travel that way for a week or two. Being completely on your own. I just felt I needed it.\"
\"Nowadays I practice mindfulness. A moment for yourself and meditation. Stop the interaction, stop thinking and start feeling your own body for a moment. Those actually are the best moments. And that’s where a lot of space and opportunities arise.\"
What inspires you?
\"I love to interact with people. Especially with people with whom I can have a good discussion. From whom I can learn something. Who make me think 'hey fuck, that’s good!’ Some of my friends make me feel like that. They can still put me on the wrong foot and give me new insights. And I hope to do the same for them.
On the other hand, I love to be with my children. I learn a lot from them. Children constantly confront you with your own shortcomings, its very instructive.\"
\"Water is the most basic element of life. We emerged from it, 65% of our bodies is water! That’s why water is like rest and contemplation to me. ‘Having a glass of water’. Time for reflection and tranquillity. No judgement, just being. That’s what water is as well.\"
What does sharing mean to you?
\"That’s gonna be philosophical. I am a big Levinassiaan, a supporter of the French philosopher Levinas. In his theory, the 'others' are always a precondition for the 'I'. You actually get your \"I-ness' because of the other. For example through your interaction with others, and that immediately implies sharing. Because interaction is not possible if you don’t share.
I believe that one of the basic human values is that we are able to share. We are social beings and social interaction means sharing some of our fundamental beliefs. However, here in the west, we’ve forgotten a little. We’ve forgotten how important other people are to us, and focuss too much on the ‘self’. It’s because of our luxury position; we are not materially dependent on others and it is getting easier to live al by yourself. But, ultimately, you need others. The circuit may be small but without the ‘other’ (and without sharing something with the ‘other’), life is not dignified.\"