Silver Dolphin for the Gotthard Tunnel
Allianz received a Silver Dolphin at the 2012 Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards for its film “Project Gotthard”. Heinrich Schütt, coordinator and director of the Gotthard film, speaks about what he experienced during the project and his fascination with the mountain.
Allianz Suisse - Munich
What do you find so fascinating about the Gotthard Tunnel?
Well for one thing, the mountain itself: Gotthard is legendary. It forms a huge barrier, a weather divide, on one side of it there’s rain, on the other sun. It’s the cultural border between northern and southern Europe. And for the Swiss themselves, the mountain has great symbolic value. When we were filming we met a Swiss guy who was walking right across the country - and obviously right over the Gotthard as well.
And of course then there’s the tunnel itself: a once-in-a-lifetime project! The Gotthard base tunnel alone is 57 kilometers long. A world record! If you add the Ceneri base tunnel, the distance comes to 72 kilometers right through the Alps, always in a straight line. From 2019 onwards, the train from Zurich to Milan will not even take three hours. A flat track, running right through these enormous rocks - it’s completely unbelievable!
And what does the project have to do with Allianz?
Allianz Suisse is an insurance partner of AlpTransit AG that is building the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels. It’s an extremely complex project: we have hardly anything to compare it to. With a construction time of 20 years, it’s practically impossible to estimate what the risks will be by the end of the policy. The technology alone is continually changing, some devices are even constructed just for this tunnel. Clearly the question for Allianz is,: how can you insure something like that?
Allianz Suisse, primarily Beat Guggisberg and his team, are continually on hand, working together with the engineers and construction companies as equal partners. They are collaborating on the planning, acting as a sort of continual safety advisor for the entire project. At the same time, the policy is being continually adjusted to take account of any new developments. You could say that there’s a genuine symbiosis between the building site and our risk managers.
Swiss legend, world’s longest train tunnel, unique insurance project. Partner: Allianz Suisse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joL_OG2MHUs
Where did the idea of making a film about the construction project come from, and how did you go about it?
The construction of the Gotthard tunnel is totally unique. A project like this one won’t to come up again in a hurry. We really wanted to film in the tunnel before all the passages had been broken through. We were also keen to show the contrast between the twisty mountain roads and the new high-tech route. And we wanted to tell the story of Allianz Suisse’s unique expertise.
We had fantastic support from colleagues at Allianz Suisse and AlpTransit. In August 2011, the team filmed in both tunnels, naturally with life saving equipment with enough oxygen for 45 minutes to allow you to get yourself to safety in case of an emergency. We also went over the pass and met the people on Gotthard: the hill walkers, a cheese seller, the miners, the tunnel experts and obviously also the people from Allianz.
Shortly before Christmas, we were even able to film a religious service held in the tunnel, invoking Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners. It’s not a job without its dangers.
What were the biggest challenges for you?
We really wanted to get inside the mountain, right inside, where the progress on the tunnel was being made. We wanted viewers to experience the construction process: noise, heat, claustrophobia and all. We wanted them to see machines working away like insects. At the same time, we obviously weren’t allowed to interfere with the miners’ work or compromise their safety. But it’s also a challenge to tell a short but nonetheless absorbing story with such a large amount of material. Composing the music that fits with the mountain, the project and the people is also a demanding project in itself. Here, too, we had our own “breakthroughs”.
Where can you see the film?
We first showed the film at the Allianz Annual General Meeting in May. In the meantime, the short and full-length versions have been made available on Youtube and allianz.com.
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