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How To Make a Film

THE HAGUE – Allowed to join the crew of the short-film Set in Stone for one day, I peak into the world of filmmaking.

How do you make a film? Where do you start? What do you need? I talk to the producer, the director, and one of the actresses of the low/no-budget film Set In Stone, starring Christophe Haddad. – Nienke van Staveren, 2012

Sunday morning at 6am, my train leaves from Amsterdam. About 90 minutes later I am picked up from The Hague Central Station by set-manager Kent together with two actors, and after a bathroom break we continue our trip towards Bergen op Zoom, where a little fort-like park will function as the set of the film Set In Stone.

We arrive at 8.45 am, and part of the crew is already unpacking loads of equipment. The small park is closed for the day, allowing the film crew to shoot in peace. In peace? “Yes, no screaming people in shots who think they are funny, no barking dogs, no worries about curious people wandering around in places we don’t need them,” explains producer John den Hollander later.

John is a 23 year-old producer, currently rounding up his bachelor degree in Leisure Management. He was involved in productions such as Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden and Het Imperium, but this is his first major independent project. While the set moves to the third location, I find a moment to sit down with John. “Where do you start when you want to make a film?” A few seconds of silence, and then he deliberately answers, “Networking. Getting to know people to start a production, you need to find a crew.” It sounds straightforward, but how do you do that? “There are several ways, you can for example go to film festivals or network through Internet. The best way to do it, though, is face-to-face. Talk to people, get to know them.”

“Telling a Story. Evoking Reactions.”

                 While the making-off crew is taking some shots of us, I ask him what the three most essential aspects are in filmmaking. That is a harder question, after all, “it is a collaborative process involving many different aspects,” he explains. “Art/location are probably the most underestimated and maybe even most important elements. Direction and camera are of course essentials, but they could be combined. Also, sound and production are indispensable, and you need good actors.” The hardest thing to get done, he explains, is getting the budget together and finding good actors. The governmental cuts and explosion of acting-training programs lately are not very helpful – “there are a lot of people who think they can act.” Right before duty calls, he tells me what for him is the most fun in filmmaking: “Telling a story. Provoking reactions. I’m somewhere in between Hollywood and Art-house – essentially, there has to be an idea behind it.”

While John gets back to his job, and the crew start shooting another scene, I talk with Anne Verschuren, one of the actors of the movie. It’s a day with a lot of waiting for her, “I only have two scenes today, and since the location is pretty far, I’m here all day.” On top of that her scenes will be shot last due to technical issues, “Shooting is waiting. You know that beforehand, so I always bring something to do.” Other actors are preparing there lines when they are not shooting, but Anne is socializing with crew-members or reading her book. “First of all, I don’t have to prepare a lot for my scenes today. Also, I just like to be prepared before I enter the set. You never no what happens on set, and when I’m in front of the camera I just want to be well-prepared so I can trust on my preparation and intuition once the camera starts rolling.” I wonder what brought Anne here, as she has worked on fully professional sets of big productions before (De Daltons, Zusjes). “The script,” Anne answers, “It was a very good script. Plus, when I heard some of the names involved after a talk with the director, I knew this was going to be a serious, ambitious project.”

What are the five most essential things?

Organization times 5

                   The importance of the script comes forward again when I ask Bruno Ramos, the Brazilian writer and director of the film, the same question I asked John earlier, “What do you need to make a film, in the most simple sense?”  His answer is quick and simple, “A good script. You can have all the millions in the world and a network with 3000 people around you: without a great idea, you’re just another guy.” While the set gets rebuilt once again and the (at least 4!) camera’s get repositioned, Bruno has time to answer some questions. “Why are you making this film?” “I’m basically making this film to build a network of people, who know what they are doing and who I can trust to move on to bigger projects with. Since I just moved to the country, that’s a way I found to meet people and so far it’s paying off great.” When I ask him what the five most essential things are you need to produce a quality film, he answers straightforward, “I would say organization five times. But if I must add another four: a crew that eats, breathes and lives what they do. Cooperation. Communication. Enthusiasm.”

The daylight slowly starts to fade. Bruno has to get back to set up another scene, and while Anne finally can start her scenes, a functionary from the municipality, who gave permission for shooting and the closing of the park stops by to watch the shooting. When the last streaks of sunlight disappear we can call it a wrap, and while the crew starts packing up the equipment and deconstruct the set, I leave for Amsterdam. Filming is an intriguing phenomenon, and the importance of organization, networking, and passion has become clear today – they are the essential ingredients for good filmmaking.

More information about Set In Stone:
http://www.setinstonethefilm.com (soon to be online)

Websites to start networking:

http://www.versfilmentv.nl

http://www.filmvacatures.nl

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TT3D; Closer to the edge. A review.

By Tom Schoonen

The starting line in sight. The roaring sound of the powered engine motor. Then, take off. You can almost smell the burned rubber on the tarmac. TT3D provides a real experience of how it would be to join the racers and visitors at the TT on the Isle of Man.

TT3D by Richard De Aragues follows a couple of riders in their preparations for the world’s most dangerous bike race. Guided by the stories of the rich history from the TT, De Aragues shows in a sparkling manner the 2010 edition of this race. Following Guy Martin as the main protagonist, De Aragues shows the preparations the racers take leading up to the TT. Martin however is not an ordinary guy. Living in Lincolnshire, Martin works with his father as a truck mechanic. Why he also races in the most dangerous race in the world? Martin claims that, although he wouldn’t mind it, he doesn’t care much for ‘shagging’, and cares more for trucks and motors. Martin raced on the Isle of Man twice before, but he never won anything. This year he is determined to win.

Next to Martin his opponents Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness are followed in their preparations. McGuinness, 15 time winner of the TT and one of the most experienced racers on the track, and his family life and breath TT. In the huge camper that stands on their driveway they all go to support McGuinness. McGuinness thrives on the support of his family and needs their mental support. Hutchinson on the other hand prepares mostly physically. Training three to four times a week in the gym and three to four times on his mountain bike, Hutchinson believes that physical fitness is the key to success in the TT.

Compared to these two professional motor racers Martin is a very down-to-earth kind of guy. Working on trucks, training on his bike and sometimes sleeping in his van, Martin is one of the most extraordinary types in the TT. De Aragues captures this so well that it is almost impossible not to like the main protagonist Martin. Not only in his preparations but also on the festival itself Martin immediately makes a scene for himself. Being late for test drives, upsetting the mechanics by changing his bike, and even getting his bike impounded for driving through the village with a race bike.

When the TT starts the audience is already so engaged with the dream of Martin to win a TT race everybody hopes for him. This makes for an atmosphere of pure excitement when watching the final races.

De Aragues captures the atmosphere, preparations, but especially the protagonists so well that it is more than just a documentary, it is a proper film. Together with the empathy De Aragues creates a serene atmosphere with beautifully captured nature on the Isle of Man together with a very calm and gentle voice over, that even the most horrible crashes sound as a pleasantry.

When going to TT3D the first thing that came to mind was “Not another stupid 3D movie”, however, De Aragues does not misuse this special effect. On the contrary, De Aragues may have made the first film in which 3D actually adds something to the story. No misused, misplaced special effects just to show of the capabilities of the film production, but just very subtle effects. Such as photos of crashes, not even moving images, which come out so well with the high quality camera and the pieces of metal flying round, just slightly highlighted by the 3D effect.

I strongly believe that De Aragues not only made a good documentary, but that he actually made a film. The first film in which 3D adds something to the story. Only this is already a reason to watch this film. Along with the beautiful scenes, the great pictures, and the charming protagonist Martin this film is an absolute most. Not only for motor fanatics, but for everybody who likes good films.

Categories: Entertainment, Home, Opinion

Turbulent times for Amsterdam’s Documentary Festival

By Stella Toonen

Being the largest non-fiction cinematic event in the world, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) is one of Holland’s major cultural institutions. Having received this prominent status from the Dutch government one month ago, the IDFA is sure of state funding in the future. Even though they will have to cut their budget to some extent, just like almost all other Dutch cultural enterprises, they can be sure that their funds will still allow them to sustain themselves. It is the luckiest outcome of the government’s decisions for the cultural industry in this time of economic instability.

The new financial circumstances cause many changes for the Amsterdam documentary film industry. The Jan Vrijmans Fund, which financed 370 films in the developing world, is one of the subsidies that will no longer be in place. “It’s a shame” director Ally Derks said when she opened the festival, “especially because when we look back, it has been an incredible year. A year of upheaval. Osama bin Laden is dead. Economies and climates are melting down. All over the world, revolutionary spirit is in the air. People across the Arab world are rising up against corruption and dictatorship. From Occupy Wall Street, to the streets of Amsterdam and Athens.” It seems to be exactly at this point in time that documentaries are needed most.

Derks emphasised that we are living in a time of change, not only financially, but also socially and politically. Such an era is the most inspiring environment for documentary makers. “There is even a greater need for documentary in this time of change… and for change in this time of documentary” she said. But change is not always easy. The IDFA therefore tries to bring people together, so their joined efforts can fight the budget cuts and will still show the audience what is going on in the world.

Change can already be seen during this year’s festival. While 24 years ago, during the first IDFA, documentaries were made to educate the audience about political situations, they now focus more on entertaining. “Many popular and populist documentaries in the program are adapting new strategies for storytelling”, Derks said. “They are leaving the obvious politics behind. They have an ambition to reach the masses, without preaching to the church of the converted. Documentaries no longer need to feel like medicine to people. The form of their message is as important as the message itself.”

An example is Mads Brügger’s “The Ambassador”, the opening film of the festival. For his documentary he has bought himself a diplomatic passport and researches what that could gain him. A hidden camera follows him while doing business in Central Africa, focussing on the corrupt nature of many of the deals. The film has a humorous tone and works like a parody. In this way the Danish director has made a film with such heavy contents very accessible for most audiences. According to Derks “documentaries now provide audiences with all the pleasure, drama, entertainment, characters and stories they once got out of fiction. But these new pop-docs are not without content. They also make us angry, make us laugh, make us love, make us act and make us think. Like all art, they also make us feel uncomfortable.”

And that is exactly what “The Ambassador” does, making people feel uncomfortable. Brügger showed the bizarre world of African diplomacy in a very critical way. “Exactly because I’m beyond role-playing by actually being a diplomat, I can forge a partnership with the very sinister owner of a diamond mine replete with gold tooth and machete scars on his forehead. That would be highly problematic for a journalist, but it’s no problem for a diplomat.” The film shows the manner in which African diplomacy works, but not everyone was happy with the controversial image that was created.

One of the Western diplomats in the documentary, Willem Tijssen, was filmed by Brügger’s hidden camera and flew in from Sierra Leone to protest against the release of the documentary one night before the IDFA opened in Amsterdam. According to Brügger’s voice-over in the film Tijssen would have used several thousands of dollars to bribe people, but Tijssen denies to have been involved in such a thing. His protest attracted the attention of Dutch magazine “Vrij Nederland”, which published an extensive article about the case, and that was noticed by Dutch news program “De Wereld Draait Door”, which invited Tijssen to defend himself among representatives of the “Vrij Nederland” and the IDFA. This media attention did not do much good for Tijssen, for the film was still released at the opening of the festival and only gained more publicity because of it.

The case illustrates the oppositions that are going on in the world of documentary making right now. While IDFA board member Derk Sauer says that “investigative journalism is a normal means of reporting news”, ‘victims’ of these investigations like Tijssen would rather prohibit this kind of journalism. The question then is not whether the producers of documentaries are ready for the change that is upon them, but if the rest of the world is actually ready. With an audience of almost 200,000 people and 14 cinemas divided over Amsterdam showing documentaries, the IDFA at least seems to be prepared for what is coming.

The IDFA runs from November 16 to November 27 in Amsterdam.

Categories: Entertainment, Home

Get it swinging!

By Marlene Werner

AMSTERDAM – Winter has finally arrived and covered the capital in depressing sadness and freezing cold.

Don’t relinquish into hibernation mode yet; spectacular entertainment, ravish exuberance and pleasing female curves are about to awake your inner warmth in the monthly edition of Amsterdam’s Burlesque  Glamour Night, Dec. 10.

Put on your shiny shoes and high heels, show off your elegant side and invest a mere 15€ for what is known as “the naughtiest, funniest, sexiest, most glamorous, good old fashioned entertainment in the World’s most liberal city.”

You will be expected by Amsterdam’s notorious Burlesque girls reminiscent of the good old times and one of the world’s first Gigolos, Shai Shahar, hosting the event, at Nes 110, starting 23:00.

The best dressed lady will be nominated and awarded a prize.

Variété, striptease, theatre, song, dance, and magic will join together and bring you through the night.

If you do not have plans for either Christmas or NYE yet the Burlesque crew will make sure you have an unforgettable night!

Categories: Entertainment, Home

Wiz Khalifa Supporting Patta

By Anneclaire Michele

AMSTERDAM – Wiz Khalifa has recently been spotted wearing a Patta varsity jacket in the video of “Young Wild and Free” (click here to watch the video).

The varsity jacket is part of Patta’s F/W collection. Patta, originally a sneaker store, located in Amsterdam, has recently released their second season collection for Fall/Winter 2011.

The first drop reached the Patta store on the 12th of November. This drop consisted of a melton wool/leather sleeve varsity jacket, various graphic and logo t-shirts, cotton socks and a graphic crewneck sweater.Prices range from 10 euros for the socks, to 220 euros for the varsity jacket.

The second drop of the Patta F/W collection is scheduled for this month, just as their highly anticipated collaboration with Asics, the Asics x Patta Gel Saga sneaker. The look book for the second drop of the collection can be seen here.

Categories: Entertainment

Will the Sinterklaas tradition die without Black Pete?

December 4, 2011 1 comment

By Anneclaire Michele

AMSTERDAM – A YouTube movie of two activists getting kicked and sprayed with pepper spray by several police officers led to nationwide attention to the arrestees.

Why were these men, one of them repeating, “I did not do anything, I did not do anything” over and over again, so forcefully arrested by the police force?

The answer is that they were protesting against the current style of celebrating of Sinterklaas during the arrival of Sinterklaas in Dordrecht.

Sinterklaas is a part of a century-old Dutch tradition, during which every child who has behaved him- or herself in the past year receives presents on the 5th of December.

During his arrival in the Netherlands, a white horse and many Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) accompany the Sint.

It is this notion of Zwarte Pieten both men had problems with and would like to see changed.

They represented the movement “Zwarte Piet is Racisme (Black Pete is racism)” at the arrival of the Sint in Dordrecht, by wearing t-shirts with that slogan across their chest, which according to the police was reason enough to arrest them with an iron fist.

What is at heart of there movement? Why are these men demonstrating at what at first sight appears to be an innocent celebration for children?

“Zwarte Piet is Racisme” first and foremost stresses that they want to enter a peaceful dialogue.

As one of the men arrested in Dordrecht, Quinsy Gairo says in a radio interview: “Do not use force, we want to engage in dialogue, not violence”.

The group states on their Facebook page that “for the greater part we have nothing against our national holiday. Unfortunately, there is an element in the celebration that promotes inequality and racism.”

The element promoting this inequality and racism is Zwarte Piet, a figure that was added to the Sinterklaas celebration during the colonial times.

Five years prior to the abolishment of slavery, “a Negro, under the name of Pieter” is firstly described as the “servant” of Sinterklaas, he received his name Zwarte Piet (black Pete) three years later.

Currently, Zwarte Piet has a black skin tone, frizzy hair and thick lips that are often painted red.

His clothing is based on the uniforms black pages wore in the 17th and 18th century and his earrings are large golden Creole earrings.

This image shows many similarities with the stereotypical representation of Africans.

This image coming from the colonial times is an expression of the notion that the ‘White race’ was supreme to the ‘Black race’.

Moreover the cast between the white boss (Sint) and his black servants (the Pieten) inevitably evokes associations with the Dutch colonial past.

Zwarte Piet usually talks improper Dutch, often with a Surinamese accent, and does silly tricks, which in the eyes of many stimulates a negative imaging of certain groups in society.

“The message behind the ‘Zwarte Piet is Racisme’ campaign is not that the Netherlands are bad, the message is that the Netherlands can do better”, says Jerry ‘Kno’Ledge Afriyie’, one of the men arrested in Dordrecht on Facebook.

The group is not against the poems, the idea of giving and receiving or children getting presents, but he continues: “Our campaign wants to get rid of the racist element in our national celebration, namely Zwarte Piet”.

Their main goal though, is to get people talking: “We want people to enter a dialogue with each other about their personal experiences with Zwarte Piet and his image.”

A lot of Dutch people are not in favor of changing the celebration of Sinterklaas and are in favor of maintaining this image of Zwarte Piet.

An often heard counterargument is the argument that Zwarte Piet would get his black colour due to all the trips to the chimney he makes and thus has nothing to do with the racism.

But then, proponents of the ‘Zwarte Piet is racisme” movement state: “Why does Zwarte Piet has red lips and frizzy hair?”

Some state the tradition will die without Zwarte Piet, however, in earlier celebrations of the tradition, up to the 1850s, there was no Zwarte Piet.

Another important question to ask is whether will Sinterklaas be affected when the notion of Zwarte Piet will be gone or changed?

Is the essence of the party the look of the servant of the Sint or that children are being spoiled with gifts and sweets for their good behavior?

There is also a possibility that the people that believe Zwarte Piet needs to remain part of the Sinterklaas celebration, want to secure the economical benefits of Sinterklaas.

A spokesperson of “Zwarte Piet is Racisme” says: “The police literally told us that Dordrecht has spent a lot of time and money in obtaining the arrival of Sinterklaas and that they will not tolerate any opposing opinions.”

People do not want to change the Sinterklaas celebration, because they don’t want to lose their part-time job, and companies are also reluctant to change the celebration, because they will then be stuck with all the merchandise.

“It is very sad to hear that apparently economic interests are more important. Society has seriously drifted away from its original foundations, if we allow this organization of priorities,” the spokesperson continues.

It is safe to say that the discussion about Zwarte Piet has not settled yet, and one might wonder if it ever will.

But what is maybe even more worrying, is how this debate uncovers the racist ideas some people still have.

The people disagreeing with the current Zwarte Piet are by many not consider to be Dutch, which can be seen in their arguments starting of with: “Well, WE Dutchies, …”.

Moreover, as long as people post messages on Facebook telling the supporters of this movement they “have to stop with playing the eternal victim”, the Netherlands still has a long way to go, not only regarding the Zwarte Piet issue, but also in terms of becoming the tolerant nation they claim to be.

SowieZO, every Sunday at Jimmy Woo

By Anneclaire Michele

AMSTERDAM – An overview of the weekly SowieZO at Jimmy Woo (a famous Dutch club) in Amsterdam on Nov. 20th.

SowieZO is a new party in the Jimmy Woo starring famous deejays as FS Green, Tjoller Inc, Joshua Walter, Lars Vegas, Flava, Wurtz, Irwan, Filthy Jerks, 2MuchLipstick, Dim Browski, Lee Millah, MC Lentini, and many more.

The party takes place every Sunday night from 20:00 and ends around 01:00.

Entrance: 10 euros/pp

Line up for December:

Dec. 4 – SowieZO / Woomanizer with Tjoller Inc & WURTZ
Dec. 11 – SowieZO / Frans with FS Green & MC Lentini
Dec. 18 – SowieZO / Run Big with Flava, 2MuchLipstick & MC Lentini

Categories: Entertainment, Home