The following is a re-edited English translated version of the original "Dutch Cinematographers Pass Judgement on Film-Making Process," analysis by Afdeling Filmzaken.
The Netherlands Society of Cinematographers (NSC) conducted a survey among its members as a response to the Netherlands Film Production Incentive 2014-2017 evaluation. (Read the results here). The aim was to find out whether the Film Fund's policy 'more money to less productions' and the Netherlands Film Production Incentive led to the intended changes in working conditions. The survey examines the relation between Film Fund, producers and creators.
The following questions are central to the results of the survey. We first mention the outcome, in some cases followed by a summary made by Afdeling Filmzaken:
- Is there a significant change in prep, shooting and post-production time for the DoP and other crew?
- Is there a difference in approach of workflow?
- Do we get more involved in projects coming from abroad?
- Is the position of the DoP improved? Especially in relationship to the producer and line-producer, since the Film Fund considers producers as their most important sparring partner.
NSC-members and production-offices;
- There is this Dutch ‘genetic’ problem: a tendency to aim for rules and regulations. Same goes for the Film Fund; too many rules.
- Filmmakers (directors and screenplay writers) follow these rules too literally instead of following their own dreams and passion.
- The necessity is disappearing by "follow the rules and get the money to make your film," approach.
- Too much interference from one side and too little ambition and perseverance from the other side.
There are too many rules, also from the Film Fund. Directors and screenwriters follow these rules too strict instead of following their own dreams and passion.
- The majority of cinematographers sees a decline in preparation time.
- There is hardly any time to figure out the style and look of a project.
- Prep with director and other heads of department is always too short.
There is hardly any time to determine the style and 'look' of the film.
- No change at all. It's even became more difficult to get normal rates. Most of the times a producer offers a disproportionate flat fee which is not equal to the number of actual working days.
- Rates have not changed over the last 10 years.
- Experience is not a benchmark. Young people grow fast towards the standard rates. When this plateau is reached no difference is made between 5 or 25 years of experience.
Fees are the same for 10 years.
- Spending obligations within coproduction-projects often result in a mandatory cooperation with crew and rental companies. This can be a nice surprise, like working with a great gaffer one didn't know before.
- But this also means you cannot work with the trusted people and companies you know well, which could save time and money.
Spending obligations mean that you can not cooperate with the people and companies you have a bond with, saving time and money.
- We notice no change in number of working days and rates since the introduction of the incentive.
- Almost every production starts too early with filming. The script is not ready yet or there's more time needed for preparation.
- DoP's are often the most experienced people on and around a film set. Please use that given fact!
Details make the difference. Finetuning the script, finding the right people (cast & crew), finding that specific location... That is the only way to distiguish the film. Please... give us more time... please!!!
Summarized by Afdeling Filmzaken
Investigation shows that the policy line "more money for less films" and the Film Production Incentive;
- Have not led to an improvement in preparation time, required need of shooting days and post-production time of a film. There is a general lack of time. This lack of time is so acute that the (artistic) quality of Dutch films have to suffer.
- There is a gap in knowledge between cinematographers and the production staff so that ambitions can hardly be realized.
- Cinematographers have hardly found work in foreign productions.
- It is difficult to work with the crew and companies of your choice.
- Cinematographers are not involved earlier in the process, as the rules prescribe.
The cinematographers sketch a rather disturbing picture of the creative process of a Dutch film. It is clear that it almost impossible to achieve quality with the ever cheaper and faster mentality.
What can filmmakers do about this?
Maybe it's time for directors, screenwriters, actors, art directors and editors to show what they need to achieve quality via their societies or the Afdeling Filmzaken-website. This is very important because only they know the demands for this.
It is time that screenwriters, directors, actors, cinematographers, art directors and editors indicate how they can achieve quality. Nobody else can do that for them. If they don't, no one does it.