Articles


EURO CINE EXPO 2023 - MOTORWORLD, MUNICH

Amsterdam, 2023-07-05 - Miga Bär

Last year Munich and the German film industry were introduced to a new event called Euro Cine Expo. On June 30 and July 1 of this year the sophomore edition took place at Motorworld in Munich.


Lennert Hillege - Making Movies at Full Steam!

Amsterdam, 2023-06-08 - Gerlinda Heywegen

Director of Photography Lennert Hillege claims he does not have his own style. He is just as good or bad as the project he works on. He says he is always looking for the right wavelength to attune to in collaborations, whether that is with directors he has worked with for years or whether he works with new ones, such as Steve McQueen with whom he worked recently.


HBO CAS 2023

Amsterdam, 2023-06-21 - Ties Versteegh NSC

On Wednesday, June 14th, the NSC presented the exclusive HBO CAS 2023 showcased by Director of Photography:Suny Behar.


Piotr Kukla - No plans on retiring any time soon!

Den Haag, 2023-01-06 - Gerlinda Heywegen

Piotr Kukla will often use that word in this interview when he is talking about something or someone. A little afraid that he won’t be able to work in the Netherlands anymore because of his age, enthusiastic about his students at the Łódź Film School in Poland. Full of love for the directors he has worked with for years, and where storyboarding is sacred.


P I N A

Amsterdam, 2023-01-13 - Nina da Costa

In the run-up to the ceremony of the 4th edition of the Robby Müller Award, the NSC takes you on a journey along the films of winner cinematographer Hélène Louvart AFC.


Sander Snoep - Never in charge, always a guest

Amsterdam, 2022-09-02 - Gerlinda Heywegen

Sander Snoep has been a well-known player in the Dutch documentary scene for years and would never have expected to still be so passionate about his profession. He is still curious every single time he’s starting a project. How his films get made, in rain or shine, does not matter to him. As long as they come about.


Paul Özgür - In a hurry to make that one masterpiece

Amsterdam, 2022-02-25 - Gerlinda Heywegen

He’s aiming for a large audience. His work has to be seen by as many people as possible. He talks about balance, Dutch DP Paul Özgür. In style and story and also in his own portfolio. And then there are the rules.


Myrthe Mosterman - Finding Synergy

Amsterdam, 2021-11-15 - Gerlinda Heywegen

A Gouden Kalf Award (Dutch film award) for her first feature film; that is what happened to DP Myrthe Mosterman in October 2020. In a Zoom interview, she talks about her style and how she prefers to work. NSC manifest New Deal pops up once again in this interviews series and it seems inevitable to address ‘being a woman’ within this ‘male profession’. But so far, she does not yet have to use a nom de plume.


Jean Counet - A jazz musician’s travels

Amsterdam, 2021-06-01 - Gerlinda Heywegen

There were five films on the shortlist for discussion with DP Jean Counet. Two feature films and three documentaries. Although Counet studied Directing at St Lukas, Brussels, he prefers to be a cameraman. But the conversation via Zoom kicked off with his own work, due to the March 2020 lockdown.


Martijn van Broekhuizen - Gangs of London

Amsterdam, 2021-04-23 - Aart Verschuur

Martijn van Broekhuizen worked on the first season of Gangs of London and is currently shooting the second season. 


Richard van Oosterhout - Insight and Wonder

The Netherlands, 2021-02-10 - Gerlinda Heywegen

Netherlands Society of Cinematographers initiates a series of interviews. NSC chair Richard van Oosterhout starts. He talks about his work, a Dutch New Deal, creativity on set and about breaking with what you know.


2021 ROBBY MÜLLER AWARD goes to Kelly Reichardt

Rotterdam, 2020-12-22 - Bianca van Riemsdijk

Kelly Reichardt will receive the second annual Robby Müller Award. As part of the award, she will also receive a gallery print of one of Robby Müller’s Polaroids.


Sidik and The Panther

Amsterdam, 2020-11-17 - Freek Zonderland

SIDIK AND THE PANTHER is a film about a man called Sidik, wandering around in the mountains of Kurdistan looking for a sign of the Persian leopard. Directed by Reber Dosky and shot by Roy van Egmond. Selected for IDFA 2019 and Camerimage 2020, mominated for an IMAGE award.


Sisters

Amsterdam, 2020-05-05 - Freek Zonderland

ZUSSEN (SISTERS) is a short dance film by director Daphne Lucker and cinematographer Casper van Oort. It has screened and has won prices at festivals all over the world. In November it screened in the student competition at Camerimage and it won the IMAGO Student Award 2020. 


Onderhuids

Amsterdam, 2020-04-27 - Freek Zonderland

ONDERHUIDS (UNDER THE SKIN) from director Emma Branderhorst and cinematographer Michel Rosendaal screened at the Berlinale earlier this year. We spoke with Michel about this poetically shot twenty-minute short film. 


First ROBBY MÜLLER AWARD goes to Diego García

Rotterdam, 2019-10-30 - IFFR / NSC

The Robby Müller Award honours an ‘image maker’ who, in the spirit of the late Robby Müller, has created an authentic, credible and emotionally striking visual language throughout their oeuvre. The first award goes to Diego García and will be presented at the 49th International Film Festival Rotterdam.


The Circle of Film

Amsterdam, 2019-10-02 - Jean van de Velde

"Wil de Nederlandse filmcultuur overleven, dan zal de filmketen een filmketting moeten worden! Dan moet het einde van die keten (de filmexploitatie) aan het begin (de filmproductie) geklonken worden. Dan moeten de baten aan het einde de 'boost' voor een nieuw begin zijn."


Regisseurs naar de achterbank

Amsterdam, 2019-08-24 - Jos van der Burg & Karin Wolfs

“Doreen krijgt heel veel power.” Aldus waarnemend Filmfonds-directeur Ger Bouma tien jaar geleden over de benoeming van Doreen Boonekamp tot directeur. Anders dan haar voorgangers kreeg Boonekamp bij haar aantreden twee petten: ze werd zowel directeur als bestuurder van het Filmfonds.


New Deal NSC

Amsterdam, 2019-04-17 - NSC

Uit een NSC-enquête die in mei 2018 onder de leden is gehouden, was de belangrijkste conclusie dat het de DP’s frustreert dat ze hun werk niet optimaal kunnen uitvoeren. Daarom dit manifest met suggesties om het werkproces te veranderen.


Living the Light, at 75th Venice International Film Festival

Amsterdam, 2018-11-18 - Vincent Visser

Living the Light – Robby Müller, made by Claire Pijman NSC, will have its world premiere at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and is selected for the Venice Classics competition


Time Layers Come Together

Amsterdam, 2018-11-17 - Vincent Visser

'Paolo Ventura, Vanishing Man,’ shows how an Italian artist creates his own timeless melancholic world in a barn on an abandoned mountaintop in Italy. With paint, cardboard, and relics of a human life, he resonates his childhood’s memories and isolation by giving himself and found objects a new magical life.   


Frank van den Eeden about Waldstille

Amsterdam, - Vincent Visser

Dutch cinematographer Frank van den Eeden (May 14, 1971), resident of Antwerp is best known for his work with directors such as Fien Troch, Nanouk Leopold and Jan Verheyen. Besides many nominations he has won several awards for his work as cinematographer.  One of his later productions is ‘Waldstille’ from writer and director Martijn Maria Smits, a feature film that got its world-premiere during the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2016. The NSC talked with Frank about this film.


NSC Investigates Film Making Process in The Netherlands

Amsterdam, 2019-05-01 - NSC

The Netherlands Society of Cinematographers (NSC) conducted a survey among its members as a response to the Netherlands Film Production Incentive 2014-2017 evaluation.


The Cinematographer as Co-Author

Amsterdam, 2019-05-09 - Hans Beerekamp

While cleaning up his archive, film journalist Hans Beerekamp found several editions of the (small-scale published) Dutch film magazine Cineécri.


Emotional Shapes and Textures - Daniël Bouquet

Amsterdam, 2018-07-15 - Vincent Visser

Immediately after his graduation from the Dutch Film Academy in 2006, Daniël Bouquet made a flying start as Director of Photography. For his second feature length production “Nothing Personal” (2008) he won the Golden Calf award for best Cinematography during the Netherlands Film Festival in 2009. Nowadays he works mainly on a variety of international projects, amongst commercials for major brands like Adidas, Gillette and Vogue. The NSC talked with him about his career, interests and more.  


Beerified Scope

Amsterdam, 2018-11-16 - Vincent Visser

Joris Kerbosch (Culemborg, 1980) is best known for his work as cinematographer for directing duo Steffen Haars and Flip van der Kuil, for whom he shot the movies ‘New Kids Turbo’ (2010), ‘New Kids Nitro’ (2011) and ‘BROs BEFORE HOs’ (2013). ‘Ron Goossens, Low-Budget Stuntman,’ is their fourth feature film collaboration. Together those comedies where amongst the highest grossing films in The Netherlands and acclaimed international recognition. NSC spoke with cinematographer Joris Kerbosch about the film.

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Lennert Hillege - Making Movies at Full Steam!


Amsterdam, 2023-06-08 - Gerlinda Heywegen

A conversation about making films that give you wings and also about working in an entirely associative way, which somehow ended up in a passionate plea to cherish filmmakers more.

Picture: Mark de Blok NSC - on set of 'De Slag om de Schelde' / 'The Forgotten Battle'' (2020)

Reset
This conversation takes place a week before it becomes known that Steve McQueen’s project Occupied City (NL/UK/USA, 2023), based on Atlas van een bezette stad (Atlas of an Occupied City) by McQueen’s wife Bianca Stigter, will premiere in Cannes as a Special Screening. Lennert Hillege is its DP and not entirely sure what he is allowed to say about it because, at that moment, nothing at all has been communicated about the film yet. Stigter writes in her book about the visible and invisible traces of World War II in Amsterdam. McQueen and Hillege filmed at 2200 locations in Amsterdam.
Hillege: “We filmed during the Corona epidemic, which was really strange. With a small crew, it was just the seven of us. 35mm; Steve just wanted that. Because of all the different locations, from the Rijksmuseum to a regular residential house in one of the outskirts in the southern part of town, you have a different mission, a different romance, a different problem every day. No, there are zero talking heads, we only filmed locations. That could be a simple exterior shot from a building, just plain, exactly that which could be seen at that moment; a document of the city. It is something entirely different from what I have ever done before, a complete reset. No big sets with a super present director, lighting, a signature.” After a few seconds of silence, there is one thing more he wishes to share: “It is nice to be close to such a confident person who is as passionate as Steve.”


Picture: Koen van der Knaap - 'De Bezette Stad' / 'Occupied City', Steve McQueen (2023)

Lennert Hillege (1978) covers his own work easily during the two-hour conversation. Even though he says he hardly remembers everything and no longer recalls all details and finds it hard to watch his own films. Of course, the three films for which he won Gouden Kalveren voor Beste Cinematografie (Dutch Film Awards for best Cinematography) are discussed. They are all so very different films and this takes the conversation towards his ‘signature’. Does Hillege have a style of his own? “No,” he states clearly, “and it is my strength and my weakness at the same time. There are plenty of DPs who do and that is what you, as a producer or director, consequently ‘buy’. What can they get from you? Well, that. But I have no idea. I am as good or bad as the project. If that doesn’t go right, then I can’t function either.”
Although the film is discussed in more detail later on in the conversation, Esther Rots’ Kan door huid heen (NL, 2009) simply has to be mentioned here. Because that is Hillege’s signature, right? The answer turns out to be ‘no’: “It is something that Esther and I truly developed together.” Aside from Rifka Lodeizen winning a ‘Gouden Kalf’ Dutch Film Award for best female lead role, there was also a, as Hillege likes to call it, Group Award, which is quite unique. “It was a team effort, we locked ourselves in a cabin for weeks on end and worked so intimately together. I am very proud of it, even after all this time.”

Consistent
David Verbeek’s R U There (NL/Taiwan, 2009 - still shot on 35mm) got Hillege his first Gouden Kalf. A professional gamer (Stijn Koomen) is faced with boundaries in Taipei. From his mainly virtual world, big hotels, gaming halls and desolate hotel rooms, he travels towards the real world somewhere in the Taiwanese countryside. Just like that.
Hillege: “We filmed in Taiwan and mainly worked with a Taiwanese crew. It was not always easy to grasp what is allowed or not in a country like that. However, David knows exactly what he wants. We talked extensively about the entire project beforehand. I think it is a beautiful, artistic script.”
Hillege agrees that the first part of the film is a bit of hard work. The virtual world with animated scenes is, almost by nature, detached, just like Koomen’s character. “But Taiwanese nature, the atmosphere we could create then, was really great,” says Hillege. It is an instinctive film, he feels. “David avoids anything that becomes too clear or symbolic. I myself am bad at that at any rate. Mystery, that is what I like.”


Poster 'R U There', David Verbeek

But what is that in a concrete sense? “Yeah, well, it doesn’t always work that way. It’s like finding the right wavelength. Doing some decoupage in preparatory talks. You talk about each other’s tastes and that way, a kind of sequence comes into being which you try to create without putting anything into words.” Koomen had to act ‘small’ for a large part of the filming process –a detached and expressionless human being – and David was on top of that, he tells. It was very clear for him. “It has to be consistent, you cannot, then, film an emotional scene all of a sudden, because then it does not work anymore.”

Hillege won his second Gouden Kalf for Urszula Antoniak’s Beyond Words (NL/Poland, 2017). A young and successful Berlin-based lawyer has to deal with his father, whom he presumed dead. It confronts him with his own origin and the role he plays in his own carefully crafted life.
“We very much wanted to create a classic Berlin-style backdrop. We decided to film in black and white, because with colour everything would have been too modern. But the subsidy funds are often critical of the black and white aestetic. It is all thanks to Urszula’s effort that we pulled it off. If she wants something, she succeeds in doing so. She just persists until she has won everyone over.


Lennert Hillege and Urszula Antoniak on the set of 'Beyond Words' (2017)

Pandora’s box opened with the whole black and white set-up; it brought everything to life. That such a simple choice gave us so much freedom immediately! It makes it all look like the film takes place in a different time and it becomes a bit intangible, just like we wanted. The idea was also to film with as much contrast as possible, extremely in your face. What also makes it so special is that without colour, everything that is light, can instantly be used as sun.”
The fact that the camera glides (in an almost stately fashion) through the decors was a clear choice. “It is a classic world in which the lawyer lives and tries to present himself as something he is not. But, honestly, during the shoot I never thought about it in such a literal way. At the time, a basic Steadicam had just been released. It was affordable, but it had its limits. I had to operate it myself, which resulted in a kind of ‘clumsiness’, but in hindsight, that gave the film a subjective feel at times. Something in between handheld and smooth. Following the main character a lot, stuff like that. That fit in with the story, the sets and the character. Estranged from himself, really. Urszula documents the feeling of such a character, she does not let you feel it yourself; she records. It is brutal. And indeed fundamentally different from Kan door huid heen, a completely different starting point.”

Genre
A director, he tells, is usually one station ahead of the rest of the crew during the creation process. And you will just have to catch up or at least try and catch on. Is that what makes it easier for him to work with directors he knows, because he is familiar with their approach? Well, Hillege does find it healthy to work with others every so often, for himself, but definitely for the director as well. Having to find out what wavelength to attune to. Having to learn to dance again, the both of you. To different music, with new directions.
He has worked most often with Diederik van Rooijen, so what about that? “That always works out, but he creates much more films than just the projects we collaborate on.”
He and Hillege filmed in the United States a couple of years ago: The Possession of Hannah Grace (US, 2017), a slow horror film about a young policewoman who, for various reasons, starts working the nightshift as a security guard in a morgue. It was most instructive to work in the United States and get to know the studio system, says Hillege. “It is just a different game from the way things are here. They pull out all the stops and go all in. Building an entire set in the studio, for instance, just so that everything can look as perfect as possible.”

Picture 'The Possession of Hannah Grace', Diederik van Rooijen

The differences in work methods are interesting, but Hillege does not prefer one country over the other: “Who is responsible for what; that is the bottom line in the US. It is about ‘real’ money there, not money from some kind of fund, but money invested by individual people who wish to make a return on investment. The script is all, a contract, and it should be followed (and filmed) to the letter. You are not going to pay for something that is not in there. Here in the Netherlands you could maybe still change something if it serves a purpose. Then we could, say, maybe pretend to be bad boys who remain in the attic for a bit longer and come up with something new. But that is impossible there. Still, Europeans usually thrive in the US because they take freedom along with them. Hollywood is and remains a tightly run school. We bring in creativity and that is worth a lot over there.”

“I really like doing genre films. I think De slag om de Schelde (NL, 2020) turned out really well, for instance. It was exciting in the beginning. How will we go about things? So many war films have been made already, so how do you avoid cliches? If somebody puts on a nazi costume, they will automatically start to walk and march with a more straight-up posture and we had to get rid of that. But Matthijs (van Heijningen Jr.) is such a good director. I had every confidence in him and that is part of the reason why it was great working together.”
The film was made to commemorate 75 years (at that time) of freedom from nazi occupation and it covers a forgotten chapter of our national war history, that of the province of Zeeland. It was well received, although Corona spoiled the release. It has hair-raising action sequences, so the reviews say.
Hillege loves to talk about the flight scene: “You mean the one in the cockpit, right?” Newspaper De Volkskrant called it spectacular in its review dated 2 June 2021, and ‘a feat action filming that is unprecedented in Dutch cinema history’.
Hillege: “We wanted to film it outside at all costs, not in a studio with green screen. That would mean a lot of post production involved, which is quite an ungrateful job for that department. You keep feeling that it is two combined layers. So he wanted to do things differently. We reconstructed a cockpit on an airstrip somewhere, with ten people around it who had to move the thing manually. We had done something similar with Nova Zembla (Reinout Oerlemans, NL 2011) with a ship, but because that ship was so huge, it could only make a few set movements; with De Slag om de Schelde, things were more successful, because that cockpit was, of course, much smaller.
It was February, so there was little light and the producers felt it would not work. It was a risk, also due to the weather, but I am happy with the result. It is bombastic with all these planes flying around the cockpit, and that may make you realise that things are not real, but despite that, it is right.”
Hillege won his third Gouden Kalf with this film. In his acceptance speech, he said that the film had given him wings. The work was often done with a gigantic crew. Hillege emphasises that once again. He went all the way from the start as well. No starting easily with a small scene or anything like that, no: “In Lithuania we immediately shot the one with the battle ship, where 75 soldiers run towards each other, bombs, grenades, the works, all on day one.” Hillege smiles: “Day 48 was in the Netherlands with someone staring out of the window; the leftovers.”

“I really like doing genre films. I think De slag om de Schelde (NL, 2020) turned out really well, for instance. It was exciting in the beginning. How will we go about things? So many war films have been made already, so how do you avoid cliches? If somebody puts on a nazi costume, they will automatically start to walk and march with a more straight-up posture and we had to get rid of that. But Matthijs (van Heijningen Jr.) is such a good director. I had every confidence in him and that is part of the reason why it was great working together.”
The film was made to commemorate 75 years (at that time) of freedom from nazi occupation and it covers a forgotten chapter of our national war history, that of the province of Zeeland. It was well received, although Corona spoiled the release. It has hair-raising action sequences, so the reviews say.
Hillege loves to talk about the flight scene: “You mean the one in the cockpit, right?” Newspaper De Volkskrant called it spectacular in its review dated 2 June 2021, and ‘a feat action filming that is unprecedented in Dutch cinema history’.
Hillege: “We wanted to film it outside at all costs, not in a studio with green screen. That would mean a lot of post production involved, which is quite an ungrateful job for that department. You keep feeling that it is two combined layers. So he wanted to do things differently. We reconstructed a cockpit on an airstrip somewhere, with ten people around it who had to move the thing manually. We had done something similar with Nova Zembla (Reinout Oerlemans, NL 2011) with a ship, but because that ship was so huge, it could only make a few set movements; with De Slag om de Schelde, things were more successful, because that cockpit was, of course, much smaller.
It was February, so there was little light and the producers felt it would not work. It was a risk, also due to the weather, but I am happy with the result. It is bombastic with all these planes flying around the cockpit, and that may make you realise that things are not real, but despite that, it is right.”
Hillege won his third Gouden Kalf with this film. In his acceptance speech, he said that the film had given him wings. The work was often done with a gigantic crew. Hillege emphasises that once again. He went all the way from the start as well. No starting easily with a small scene or anything like that, no: “In Lithuania we immediately shot the one with the battle ship, where 75 soldiers run towards each other, bombs, grenades, the works, all on day one.” Hillege smiles: “Day 48 was in the Netherlands with someone staring out of the window; the leftovers.”

Picture: Mark de Blok NSC - 'De Slag om de Schelde' - Matthijs van Heijningen

A set, he finds, is as good as its director. If they exude calm and give you confidence, then you get an energetic, free film. Hillege: “Film is the art of achieving a lot with as little talking as possible. That was the case here. Matthijs is a balanced, smart filmmaker who is very close to his own “little voice”, stays true to himself. That allows him to work extremely subtly. I do not always manage that myself. Sometimes so many people talk to you and then it is hard.”

New Deal
Time to discuss the New Deal from 2018. The NSC manifesto is against the slow and administrative system that filmmaking sometimes has become: ‘out with the standardisation and uniformity’. Because that would never result in a proper film climate, is the idea. Especially the DP’s role should be bigger, and should be more free, so they can help the director focus on the film. With custom jobs, no time pressure, that big enemy at every stage, especially in preproduction.
Hillege: “The industry functions properly if there is healthy competition, supply and demand, a healthy selection process and that may be hard in the Netherlands. How we handle film as culture… creativity just has little value here. We have to make a good film once again. The more pride there is, the more protection there is. We have to have more guts and not be afraid. Take the mentality of The Possession of Hannah Grace’s producers, for instance. If we wanted to do something in a certain way, something ‘new’, they immediately went ahead to find out if that was possible. In the Netherlands that kind of thing has a paralysing effect, everyone shuffles about a bit and they do not know how to act. Things get quiet and then it just kind of disappears. If something is different, we all get scared immediately. I do not understand why we do not take a little more risk. We are such a small country and that could also be what gives you freedom, right? It bums me that it is impossible to make any real mistakes on the artistic side. You get judged so harshly. I am all for being more daring and having the guts to fail, because that automatically means there will be a good one as well. That should be possible without anyone being ostracised. It just does not change, because we do not know how to distribute the work and money. Why is one person allowed to make another film while the other is not?”

How does Hillege feel about what the NSC manifesto states about budgets that are too low which means one can better look for smarter scripts that match the available budget, and are therefore easier to film?
Hillege: “Restrictions are nice if the script has enough in it to make a potentially good film. Though it does not if it contains something that is simply impossible. You will always come up against what is maximally feasible. It is however frustrating if there are ideas that are just totally impossible. If you are creating something with a cardboard puppet on a stick, the fun is long gone. That is a complicated process, especially for the screenwriters, because how do you know where the tipping point is? If there is a fairground in the script but you can only find one piece of cotton candy and a light bulb, well… then it is obvious that there will be no fairground. And then you can blame the restrictions which make you more creative, but there are limits. On the other hand, I do not function properly if the possibilities are limitless. A shared limitation can create good energy on set.

I like to compare film to plotting a bank robbery: the preparations take up a lot of time until the day arrives that you start digging the tunnel. And then you go in and you go out at breakneck speed, with squealing tyres. Only, it never goes entirely to plan and that is where the magic often comes from. Sometimes you do not succeed and that is when your colleagues send you to film prison.
Whether I feel some of that magic already on set? If that even happens, I distrust it. I do not much like to feel the heart of the film during the shoot. Like you are already looking back. Of course, I am critical, but why something works or just doesn’t is something so precarious. Sometimes it is also just a question of persisting. It is better that the set feels boring than too dynamic. Because that means chaos.” Hillege once again refers to Stijn Koomen’s consistent acting in R U There, and consequently the direction. “That was also all about persisting, doing nothing, you walk from A to B, no emotions’. In the end, that will result in more magic.”

Intimate
What was it like to shoot that really hard scene for Kan door huid heen, when there are many emotions, and it has to get really intense? Quite early on in the film, the young woman Marieke (Lodeizen) is attacked in her own home and almost murdered in the bathtub.


Rifka Lodeizen on the set of 'Kan door Huid Heen' - Esther Rots (2009)

Hillege: “I quite like shooting something like that, actually. I have no qualms with it being heavy or intense. That is also due to the fact that the set concentrated really well, everyone really wanted to do things absolutely right and the whole thing had been thoroughly thought out beforehand: it was given all the time that it needed. You do not get that too often. We were locked into the house where Marieke eventually ends op going, with about five to six people. We worked much longer on the film than usual, also on that (nude) scene. We were there to experience it. That small team: focus puller slash lighting engineer, soundguy slash camera assistant, slash everything, basically. Me, Esther, Rifka…. That is how we shot that scene in five, and the entire film in 75 days. We decided per day what part of Esther’s script we would shoot. If things were frosty, we chose the scene with ice in it, etcetera. Everything was so intuitive. I still do not understand that Esther has not gotten more opportunities to make films. She is such an exceptional talent. You have to cherish that, secure it and nurture it. The way she writes scripts, almost like a book. That is a huge challenge. It was, in fact, only a starting point and it worked for me. Did you know that she made three shorts all by herself, with just a little money from O&O (Research and Development fund of the Dutch Film fund) and two of them went straight to Cannes film festival (NL, Speel met me, 2002 and Ik ontspruit, 2003)?
I am speaking from my own phantasy here, but I can imagine that her talent has been impeded. She is one of the most unique film makers I have ever worked with. What she does is truly a new school of filming and working. Undeniably Dutch, the Dutch Way, that is what should come forth from this.”

Very different but definitely equally important to Hillege was the collaboration with Reinout Oerlemans. He asked Hillege to do Komt een vrouw bij de dokter (NL, 2009), after the novel by famous Dutch writer Kluun.


Picture 'Komt een Vrouw bij de Dokter'  - Reinout Oerlemans (2009)

“A huge switch because out of nowhere Reinout got me involved. I went from low budget arthouse, all very intimate, into such a machine of a film with Carice van Houten all of a sudden. It was all about getting to know all other aspects of film making. One of my most pleasant and most beautiful film experiences. A beautiful story too. About a man who loves his wife, cheats on a regular basis and is truly an asshole. She becomes ill and dies eventually. It is a pure starting point and it was made in a pure way. On set, during the death scene (Carice van Houten’s character commits euthanasia) people cried. You should not prepare a scene like that too thoroughly, by the way. The actors are very much leading, in this respect. So not making things too technical. The film was also such a delight to make, because it happened in the peak 35mm period, light cameras, rock 'n roll almost; working like Kluun (who has a bit of a reputation, GH) lives.”

Hillege mentions his collaboration with Steve McQueen one more time: “At the highest level, things get uncomplicated once again. You can be close to your own voice once again. When you start out as a filmmaker, anything is possible. Further on in your career, you start conforming in order to remain able to participate. But if you can stay true to your own voice, if you can persist in this, on that level, if you succeed in that, then it truly becomes worth something. McQueen has gotten there. Then you have your freedom again. That is where I also want to go.”

'When We Lost to the Germans'(Guido van Driel, NL) will have its world premiere in the Netherlands in September this year.                                   'Occupied City' (Steve McQueen, NL/UK/US) had its world premiere at the Cannes Festival last May and is expected to premiere in the Netherlands later this year.

Interview Gerlinda Heywegen
Translation Sonja Barentsen


download the Dutch version