Melzig, head of production for 2017: “in Russia, it was really awful […] there is no respect for other people”

UKRAINE – Head of Eurovision 2017 Production, Ola Melzig from Sweden spoke about the preparations in Ukraine regarding the contest and of course the delays. He confirmed that the plans are six months behind but the work is ongoing and back on track. Being responsible for the production of the show since 2000, Melzig is considered the man behind the success of the event which brings 200 million viewers every year (for all three shows).

Speaking about the Eurovision 2017 work progress he says that it’s very intense and there is need to do lot of things at the same time. Working with a big new team of Ukrainians and foreigners and various documents in the translations queue there is a lot of hassle in timing but in the end it will be fine, it’s Eurovision. There is tight schedule but everything is possible and there is no danger and we work on making the contest fantastic.

Being in Ukraine since January, Melzig speaks about time table problems: “Well, how, how. We will work very quickly! (laughs) The fact is that over the Eurovision we need to work strategically, there is already a certain scheme and the schedule developed for a long time and tested over the years. For example, how the Eurovision Song Contest is done in Sweden? Imagine what the Excel worksheet looks like? And so it is usually the planning we have – on Monday we will do this, on Tuesday – that, in August – this. The Swedes are very fond of planning and calculate every step well in advance. There is, of course, the other side: the Swedes are incredibly democratic, and when they take this or that decision, in it is involved every single team member. Including even the cleaning lady, I’m talking to you seriously! (laughs). And that’s why the work on the contest takes a lot of time, and in Sweden we have to start well in advance. Besides, when you do the long-term planning, you can not rush into decisions, but need to choose ones which will be really working as you have time to weigh them, measure and see if this idea is suitable or should it be sent to the trash. Naturally, it works not only in the case of Eurovision, but in every project.”

It is the 13th Eurovision edition, Ola Melzig is involved and recall the 2005 Eurovision back in Kyiv. things haven’t changed in terms of people and behaviours he says but Ukraine has come closer to the West these past 12 years since they hosted the event.

The worst Eurovision edition he had to deal with was in Russia back in 2009: “The one in Russia! With Russians it is very difficult to work. I do not know if I can talk about it… in Russia, it was really awful. You know, there is no respect for other people. We came to do them a show, and they treated us like a shit! We were just wondering: hey guys, we are trying to save your f**king country and do a normal show, can you at least feed us and give some water? Everyone there who is even a little bit empowered to resolve any issues and is a part of the so-called high society, behaves arrogantly. My good friends were making the Olympics in Sochi, and they said exactly the same thing about the Russians.”

Unlike Russia he didn’t deal with an attitude from the Ukrainians. In the question for the Ukrainian national final, Ola Melzig admitted he doesn’t watch it due to work but he generally watches TV… on Apple TV! since 2000 when the first Eurovision was full of stress and anxiety for him, now he can even have a coffee with his team an hour before the broadcast. He is usually calm and always having a Plan B in case of any emergency. The interview concludes with him saying that he would love to do a show for Tina Turner.