The new blog is on its way – really! But hereby finally a couple of the short films I’ve directed at Columbia up until now. In chronological order – I hope that’s visible :) I’d love to hear what you think! (NB: the final six-minute project of my first semester, Day, is still in the making, expected release: Feb 26th :D)
October 2010 – 03:36
November 2010 – 04:39
Channel 6 – Breaking News!
December 2010 – 03:32
January 2011 – 01:38
Liz Agate and me in our Orientation Week masterpiece =)
This is the result of an on-the-fly shoot during the 2010 Orientation Week of Columbia’s MFA Film Program: the behind-the-scenes of a movie we never shot… And yes, it contains bicycles and sex scenes. Although we weren’t allowed to use that. So. Thanks to my great classmates and all the laughter and praise at the screening! :)
Amanda Ochoa (Juliet), Valerie O'Hara (Nurse) and Amanda Renne Baker (Lady Capulet) in the Hudson Warehouse's "Romeo and Juliet".
They laid their scene not in fair Verona, but on the fair steps of the Soldier’s Patio in New York’s Riverside Park. Here, at the junction of 89th Street and Riverside Drive, the Hudson Warehouse – “that other free Shakespeare in the Park” – played their version of the Bard’s story “of no more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo” against the backdrop of a setting sun, loud traffic and the occasional lost pedestrian. The audience was seated on the not-too-comfortable steps of the monument, and the location, though visually mesmerizing, placed the actors and the audience for a great challenge of (in)audibility. Yet, the Hudson Warehouse managed to create a performance that actually did overcome the shortcomings of open-air and urban theater. The first half an hour made one suspect to have found yet another proof that Americans just can’t do Shakespeare. Then, fortunately, Friar Lawrence stepped on stage, rendered as a fierce American army general in the tradition of Full Metal Jacket‘s R. Lee Ermey. From this point on, the directorial choices – the classic tale had been placed in the modern context of native Afghani versus American soldiers – started to make actual sense, after a first act of amateurish combat fights, inaudible actors and an unlucky jumble of costumes. Now, all the elements seemed to fall into place. Friar Lawrence, played by a spot-on Kelly King, managed to bridge the gap between ancient English speech and a modern-day context. The concept of weeping women – most notably by a truly hilarious performance of Valerie O’Hara as the Nurse – fitted perfectly in the suggested Islamic culture. Amanda Ochoa proved an intense and unexpectedly independent Juliet, rather neatly matched by George K. Wells, utterly believable in Romeo’s more vulnerable moments. The only things that still managed to hamper the performance were the torturing audience “seats”, a rather misplaced rendering of Mercutio by Tyler D. Hall and an uninteresting Prince (Jesse Michael Mothershed), and a sagging mid piece. Fortunately, these flaws diminished to a great extent by the play’s ferocious and gripping final scenes. As the passion of these star-crossed lovers slowly faded away on the steps of the Soldier’s Patio, one came to realize that some Americans actually are capable of delivering the Bard’s.
Amanda Ochoa and George K. Wells as the star-crossed lovers, J.C. and R.M.
Stephen Dillane, Stellan Skarsgård, and Jack Shepherd in BBC's "God On Trial" (2008).
There are few things that evoke such strong emotions with me as the fate of concentration camp prisoners during World War II. It is the sheer thought of people deprived of all their humanity that sends shivers down my spine. Yet, if we look beyond the cruelty that is impossible to review in an unemotional way, we do see small miracles happen among human beings reduced to their most primitive state – themselves and nothing but themselves. BBC’s 2008 television drama God On Trial provides an example of such a situation. It tells the story – supposedly based on real life events – of Jewish camp prisoners conducting a trial against God for breaking their covenant with him. The movie in itself is a rather plain juxtaposition of opinions, but those opinions are fortunately well worth listening to – for both non-believers and devotees (to which God whatsoever). The often emotion-filled debates amongst the barrack inhabitants leads to several noteworthy scenes: a French physicist calls for reason by pointing out that it is all too far-fetched for some higher entity to create galaxies and at the same to bond only with a very select group of pious Jews; a deeply shattering soliloquy by actor Antony Sher, listing all the biblical entries that portray God as one that slaughters and slays his people without a justified reason (“Our God may be strong and he may be on our side, but he has never been good!”); the heart-rending story of a father (the brilliant Eddie Marsan) who was given the choice to save one of his three sons (“Which one should I’ve chosen?”, he weeps). My favorite moment, though, is when the bullying guard of the barrack speaks rashly of his motifs (which are practical, not moral) and suddenly interrupts his monologue to raise his hands to the sky. All of a sudden the soft sounds of birds become apparent, carried into the Jewish barracks by a gentle breeze. That’s where World War II suddenly becomes not only an intangible horror, but, moreover, a part of the world that we all still live in.
It seems such a long time ago. That I became Editor-in-Chief of the Dutch student’s media magazine Xi. That I started my studies in Media and Culture (or Film Sciences, as I prefer to call it out of shame for the way too popular original name). That I received my high school diploma. That I made my first film.
No matter how you see it, every approaching end (and I don’t mean to be as dramatic as I sound) makes you reflect the days you left behind. What did I do? What did I achieve? What did I learn? What did I lose? Yes, I know, they are intimidatingly phrased Big Questions, but sometimes it does no harm at all to try and find an answer for yourself to these and other questions, regardless of how insignificant and incomplete your answers may be. And as the sun has finally managed her way through the usual Dutch cloud cover, that self-reflection can be most pleasant. Continue reading
Starting this Fall in the world's greatest city, at one of the most prestigious universities on the globe! Cheers! =D