October 2022 saw the release of the film ‘Zillion’, a ‘warts-and-all’ account of the notoriously decadent club in Antwerp, Belgium that became ‘the’ place to be in the late ’90’s.  Created by Frank Verstraeten, Zillion included all the things Verstraeten felt other clubs lacked, particularly in the visual element.  Using the most technologically advanced fixtures of the time, his club boasted moving lights, atmospheric lighting FX and elements of a budding AV phenomena.  The ingenuity and innovation of the original driving concept at Zillion has found a soulmate in the creativity at the heart of Ayrton lighting products.

As the owner of the rental company Pixelbeam, Verstraeten now has a big fleet of Ayrton fixtures from which he supplied 250 fixtures to The Creative Factory (T.C.F.) to get creative with on a series of parties that accompanied the film’s release, each of which celebrated and recreated the unique Zillion style and vibe. Social rave reviews were picked up by mainstream media and the Zillion experience has gone nationwide as audiences book to watch the movie before going on to party in ‘Zillion’ style.

The series of parties began with an ‘avant-premiere’, the day before the film’s official release, attended by the cast and a wealth of Belgian celebrities, industry professionals and guests who filled 15 halls of the cinema for a simultaneous showing, before being swept to the Zillion-style after-party at Waagnatie in Antwerp.

Robbe Boone from FACE, Ayrton’s exclusive Belgian distributor, describes the after-party layout at Waagnatie, “The scene was set on entry with Zillion eye-catchers, video clips from the film, and a Ferrari as a central feature in the foyer representing Frank’s decadent lifestyle. 24 MagicPanel 602 and NandoBeam S3 fixtures lit the Ferrari echoing the ’90’s look.

“The main party hall was surrounded by a VIP balcony and featured a DJ stage playing music of the time, erotic dancers and a vibe that carried more than hints of what partying in Zillion was like!

“Cobra was used in large numbers in the main hall, rigged on overhead trusses above the dance floor and on the balcony fronts, mainly for their strong-contrast beams and extensive gobo choices. They were very plentiful (60 in total) so they could create amazing dance-like effects. Bright enough to hold their own against the LED Pixelscreens, the Cobra showed its flexibility in still being able to maintain the dark club experience. This was mainly due to the sharp contour of the beam lending a contrast that is so visually dynamic. LED screens produce a lot of light, but to keep the dark club feeling, the razor-sharp edge of the Cobra is the perfect foil against any screen, offering intensity against the darkness.”

Alongside the 60 Cobra were 26 Perseo Beams acting as side light, 62 MagicDot R lighting the VIP balconies and providing additional aerial effects, and 40 of the new Domino LT (Long Throw) upwardly projecting from the front of the stage to create fan shapes either side of the DJ booth; another cluster of Domino LT was sited on top of the drinks’ bars on either side of the stage for those brighter-than-bright aerial effects and gobo looks.

Verstraeten also wanted the Zonda 9 FX in the mix, as Boone explains: “There are 38 Zondas in the design – all of which are rigged in an oval cluster above the DJ booth on the main stage: together these are used as a wash light, an FX light and as an eye-catcher. Frank also designed video graphics for the Zonda fixtures, including the ‘69’ part of the Zillion logo which he ran through the pixels and the LiquidEffects™ on the Zonda face. Frank first saw the Zonda 9 FX in Ayrton’s pre-show for Prolight+Sound in Paris and knew immediately these were the fixtures he was looking for. Frank was at the forefront of the AV effects across the whole party and the Zonda 9 FXs capabilities ticked all his boxes.”

 Verstraeten’s strength of vision has clearly not dimmed since the original Zillion Club closed amid controversy in the early 2000s.  Always fascinated by how technology could open up the possibilities of the visual image, his focus on seeing the Ayrton lightshow at Prolight was centred on what results could be achieved. His confidence that the Zillion story was to be reborn and could be told so completely through investment in Ayrton fixtures has been proven many times over. Concentrating largely on the IP-rated fixtures, his investment in Cobra, Domino and Perseo especially serves not only as an effective strategy to service the market for large outdoor events like Formula 1 and Tomorrowland, but also improves the efficiency of his stock for indoor rental projects where the added protection means less maintenance.

Social media is awash with the Zillion story and the celebration party for the film premiere has become a sensation in its own right; more parties followed that same week, and the Zillion parties will continue in major locations across multiple cities from February 2023.

Ayrton is distributed exclusively in Belgium by FACE.

Texte: Julie Harper
Photos: © Frank Lambrechts of Picturesk

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