Screening “Ad Infinitum” by Cam Thys + Launch party Box-House

Dear Belgian Reader,

My friend and colleague Cam Thys got selected for this year’s Short Film Corner at  the Cannes Film Festival! Therefore, we would like to celebrate together with you at an official screening of the selected short film Ad Infinitum. The film leads you through the emotional wirlwind of holebi-love through the eyes of the lovers.

Scenario and director: Cam Thys.

Cast: Pieter Verelst, Hans Claes, Peter De Vriendt

Production: Box-House

After the sceening, the people behind Box-House Productions will officially introduce themselves and party the night away at the Box-House Launch Party!

Where: Nonkel Wannes (café), Montignystraat 21, Antwerp

When: Saturday, May 14th. Screening starts approximately at 8pm, followed by the Launch Party.

+ you have the opportunity to finally meet the person behind Hitchcock is my Homeboy!

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Check the Facebook-page of the event and the site of Box-House for more info.

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The Oscars 2016 diversity row

Prior to the 88th Academy Awards on February 28th, film director Spike Lee (Malcolm X, Inside Man) caused huge controversy when he openly accused the Academy of discriminating against black filmmakers and therefore he demands a boycott of the Oscars by skipping the official Ceremony. The lack of diversity is also what convinced Jada Pinkett-Smith and her husband Will Smith. Questions about the Academy’s policies as an institution were inevitable.

15-spike-lee.w529.h529Incentive for the entire debate is that for the 2nd year in  a row, no black actors or filmmakers received a nomination. Due to Lee’s accusation, people around the world tend to use the word ‘racist’ and this is also how the media describes the entire debate. Using the terminology ‘racist’ is rather judgmental though, which I think should be avoided whenever possible. With all due respect, I think, in this heated discussion the use of ‘discrimination’ is more in place, leaving the issue raised by Spike Lee too one-sided when you take all aspects of race and gender into account. On the other hand, the USA and Hollywood are unfortunately still patriarchal systems dominated by a white male-only mentality. Consequently, amendments are necessary, but I do like to raise some other issues that could be raised, that make Spike Lee’s accusations too one-sided. What About Asian, Middle-East or North-African actors and actresses? Or the Hispanics, since they make up for 17,32% of the US population (in reports of 2014)? The US counts multiple nationalities from all over the world, so what about all the others and their ambitions. And I don’t even mention other minorities such as transgenders. Which means that other minorities than only the black actors also deserve representation, without denying the fact that black actors are facing severe institutional problems. This community now gets the acknowledgement and support by other Hollywood-actors and actresses, mainly Caucasian, like George Clooney.

Also Spike Lee raised the issue and although last year no black filmmakers were nominated as well, he nonetheless received and accepted an Honorary Award. And this year’s ceremony will be hosted by Chris Rock, who refused to step back, despite calls for him to quit the job. He will focus his opening speech on the #OscarsSoWhite-Issue though.

There are 3 possible solutions to avoid racial rows like this in the future and to keep the Oscars-ceremony a peaceful happening:

  1. The Academy could add 5 more nominees to each category to increase the likelihood for black actors and directors to become nominated. But taking Spike Lee’s words literally, that when the racism is a deeply-rooted institutional problem, the addition of more nominees will have no remarkable outcome for the minority group.
  2. The Academy could come up with diversity quota or a black filmmakers-only category, which would result in a revival of Apartheid, as we know from our history books. (Apartheid is the racial segregation system in South-Africa from 1948-1994)
  3. Maybe cutting members from the Academy, who haven’t been active in voting or in the film industry for a certain period would be the best way to change the entire institutional mindset.

According to recent news from The Guardian on January 24th, the Academy Awards organisers announced a series of substantial changes, like the aim to double the number of women and ethnic minority members by 2020 after above mentioned complaints. The changes also include a 10-year limit on a member’s voting abilities, which also can be removed if the member is no longer active in the film industry. President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said that “these new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing the membership composition.”

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It is an undeniable fact that the Academy and its approximately 6,000 members is a bit out-dated, because of those non-active members that also belong to a different generation in time. It is therefore important to point at the current US census and importance of diversity. According to reports by the US Census Bureau 13,2% of the US citizens is Afro-American. When you compare to the list of nominees and winners of the Oscars since the year 2000, 4 years were without any black nominees, but still you have 31 out of 320 nominees (and 9 winners) who were black, which makes up for 10% and is more or less equal to the census and therefore makes sense. Very talented black actors and actresses like Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, 2004), Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball, 2002) and Jamie Foxx (Ray, 2004) are being hired, nominated and winning Oscars at a proportional rate. And this is where you should keep the artistic, rather than political or racial, aspect of ‘talent’ in mind. Who the Academy considers the best logically gets nominated and many talented actors like those in Straight Outta Compton (F. Gary Gray, 2015) of to compete with actors with the calibre of Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant, 2015).

“Ride or Die” – Alec Tibaldi & Magaajyiah Silberfeld

naamloos (5).pngCheck out the trailer of Ride or Die, a thrilling coming-of-age shortfilm about an afternoon in the lives of 3 teenagers in LA! This 11-minutes long/shortfilm by Alec Tibaldi en Magaajyiah Silberfeld (also the producer!) got selected for so many international film festivals in 2015 (Cannes’ Court Métrage, Portsmouth, Chelsea,…) that I don’t need any more arguments for you to watch it…

Alan Rickman died at age 69

Normally, I am not really into sentimentality. But as you know, the British actor Alan Rickman, died from cancer yesterday on January 14th aged 69.
He was known for his outstanding performances in Love Actually (2003), Snow Cake (2006), Sweeney Todd (2007), etc… and for his soothing warm voice. Mostly, and I speak for my generation, he was Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter-series.

Raise your wands, wizards!
Dear Alan, rest in peace.

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Ready for the Tarantino-fever?

One of the most anticipated films of the year and maybe already in the Top 10 of 2016 is Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. His films are a matter of ‘love it or hate it’. They are full of cynical dialogues and a specific kind of humour, paired with ruthless violence. Personally, what I love most is Tarantino’s use of music, which seems incoherent with the stories’ historical context, but stills creates the kind of  atmosphere we like so much in his films. The Hateful Eight has a musical score by the famous composer Ennio Morricone. The two already siuccesfully worked together for Kill Bill Vol. I (2003), Inglorious Basterds (2009)and Django Unchained (2012).

The Hateful Eight is now playing in cinemas and already very hyped.

The Belgian filmmagazine Vertigo now has The Hateful Eight on its cver for the January issue, but 8 different versions so readers could collect all of them… which I obviously did!

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PS: Review coming soon.

Hitchcock is my Homeboy Top 2015

The end of the year is already there and 2015 surely was a fantastic one for the international film industry. We witnessed the release of many blockbusters like Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, the long awaited 50 Shades of Grey, Fast & Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Martian, Spectre and many many more. Only recently Star Wars Episode VII was released and by now already shattered all box office records with over 106 million dollars in only 12 days. I expect nothing different from The Revenant or Tarantino’s  The H8teful Eight, that premiered last week.

Tradition implies us filmcritics to come up with our own top 10 of every year’s films, but I will provide you with my very own Hitchcock is my Homeboy-awards.

Best film

Youth by Paolo Sorrentino

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Sorrentino’s Youth is a well-balanced feel good film about an ageing composer who retreats in a hotel in the sunny Swiss Alps. Here he finds out what it is to actually grow older and get confronted with the concept of modern-day ‘youth’. With splendid performances by Sir Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda and Rachel Weisz as Caine’s daughter. Youth was my personal favourite at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Best foreign language film

Las Elegidas (The Chosen Ones) by David Pablos

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Pablos’ film tells the very dramatic story of Sofia and Ulysses, a young couple living in Tijuana near the Mexican-American border. Although he loves her, he tricks her into child prostitution. Pablos uses asynchronic sound and images as a means of suggestiveness and to confront the audience with reality of Mexican sex trafficing.  All close-ups are focused on the eyes, as they are the mirror of the soul. Las Elegidas is a confronting love story, which apparently is not so far from reality as one might think.

Best Belgian film

D’Ardennen by Robin Pront

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D’Ardennen is a dramatic thriller set in the 90’s Belgian ‘Johny & Marina’ scene -think bomber jackets, loads of hair gel and house-/hardstyle music. The soundtrack of D’Ardennen therefore is one full of 90’s beats that almost make you jump up from your chair, like the end credits theme. The title of the film refers to the Walloon part of Belgium, but is a dialectal use of the original word ‘Les Ardennes’

Pront could count on the participation of a good cast and crew, full of professionals. Veerle Baetens, who plays the female lead, is internationally renowned since her part in Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012). But she is not the one who steals the show in this gem, but the male leads Jeroen Perceval and Kevin Janssens, who go into deep to become the violent -almost marginal-, but humane brothers Kenneth and Dave.

Keep an eye on Robin Pront, because his productions may seem somewhat on the ‘dark side’, but are set out very carefully to assure perfection.

Best cinematography

Life by Anton Corbijn

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In the last few years, the Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn focussed more on filmmaking, but nonetheless, you can still find traces of his main profession in his productions. Life is his 4th feature film and a biopic about the famous 50’s actor James Dean (Dane DeHaan) and his friendship with Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson), a photographer for magazines. All of Corbijn’s shots are beautifully stylised, so the film more or less becomes one consecutive series of photographs. But his mise-en-scène does not necesarilly overshadow the narrative or the character’s development. The latter are complex human beings, who one might identify with.

Best  Animation

The Little Prince by Mark Osborne

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Based on the books by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, director Mark Osborne tells the story of a Little Girl who is getting prepared for the adult world, but loses herself in a fantasy world when she meets her elderly neighbour, the Pilot. The main plot gets intertwined with pieces of the little girl’s fantasy world, in which Little Prince and his planet are creatively constructed out of papier-maché.  Provided with a beautiful soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and the focus on respect, friendship and childhood fantasy The Little Prince definitely becomes the perfect film for quality time with the entire family.

Best Performance International Male

Tim Roth

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He already played a lot of remarkable parts, like Mr Orange in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). But in 2015, I loved him the most in Chronic as well as in Tarantino’s The H8teful Eight. Roth easily switches from modest roles in the character-driven Chronic to up-tempo and cynical ones in The H8teful Eight. At the age of 54 he already has an impressive record of achievements due to his talent.

Best Performance International Female

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn.

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Brooklyn is a romantic drama by John Crowley, that stars Saoirse Ronans in its leading part, who is only 21 years old, but already played in big Hollywood productions like Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Brooklyn gives her the opportunity to act in her mother tongue, namely Irish, which adds up to the credibility of the story. Moreover, her natural way of acting makes the love story between an Irish immigrant (Ronan) and Italian boy (Emory Cohen) in Brooklyn to be one of the most heartwarming since Cassavetes’ The Notebook (2004).

Best Belgian Performance Male

Jeroen Perceval/ Matteo Simoni

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Jeroen Perceval proved himself a talented actor in the abovementioned D’Ardennen by Robin Pront as the criminal, but sensitive Dave. Who knows Perceval, would know that this is not his first stand-out performance.

Matteo Simoni is famous for his parts in commercial productions, but he should be admired for being a multitalent. Whatever role he is given, he plays it with dedication and never gets typecasted . In 2015, he played the clumsy and caricatural poser and party animal ‘Smos’ in Safety First, the filmversion of the similar television series about a securityteam at events. I can’t imagine anyone not laughing or symphatising with his well-meant stupidities.

Next television season, he will be playing a strappy callboy in a television series.

Best Belgian Performance Female

Martha Canga D’Antonio

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Before the summer of 2014 Martha Canga D’Antonio would never have imagined herself becoming an actress, let alone becoming an award-winning actress. Her part as Mavela in the Shakespearean love story Black by Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi (see below) got rewarded with plenty of selections at international film festivals and already won her one award for Best Actress at this year’s  Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. The actress was only 19 years old when she played a gang member in Brussels, who falls in love with a Moroccan boy from a rival gang. She received standing ovations for her highly credible and modest performance, which are well-deserved.

Special mention also goes out to the rest of the young cast, who all proved themselves to be born actors, some of them surely are equally talented as Canga D’Antonio.

Best Soundtrack

Eden by Mia Hansen Løve

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Eden is a coming-of-age film about the Paris underground music scene in the 90’s and early 00’s. It tells the story of  Paul (Félix De Givry)’s youth as a DJ and the uncertainties he comes across. Eden has a rather  slow narrative, but is yet very vibrant because of the references to the rise of Daft Punk, the world famous French house pioneers (One More Time,…) Their pulsating beats pull us back to those early days of underground clubbing and fill us with melancholy.

Most Promising/ Upcoming Talent

Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi

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Photo-credits: Adil El Arbi

Black is their 2nd feature and might be a bit a-typical for Belgian cinema with its epic Hollywoodian style of narrative and shooting. But the least you could say, is that this director duo Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi comes up with a  ground-breaking production for the Belgian media by making a film with non-professional actors from different cultural backgrounds. A lot of fresh faces on the screen and a signed Hollywood contract as a remarkable result.

Most expected

The H8teful Eight by Quentin Tarantino

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The H8teful Eight is Tarantino’s 8th feature film, and one of the most awaited films in years since the overwhelming succes of Django Unchained in 2012. The film could count on a bunch of big names such as Tarantino’s sweethearts Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth, but also an impressive performance by Kurt Russell. What to expect: witty and cynical dialogues, violent and up-tempo action scenes and a musical score by the one and only Ennio Morricone (Bugsy, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds,…) This is a Tarantino as we like it!

More than meets the eye: the professionals behind the best of Belgian cinema

Published in The Spread

From casting directors to editors, directors and composers, these are the craftspeople who are responsible for most of the product – but don’t always get as much of the spotlight.

When people are watching a film in the theatres or at home, they mostly only pay attention to its narrative or the famous actors and actresses. But they forget that filmmaking is a long process which is impossible without the help of many others. A film could not have the same dramatic effect without a proper soundtrack or sound effects made by a sound mixer, and a good cameraman is an essential sidekick to help convey the director’s message. These are only a few examples.

Making a film is about pre-production, the shooting or production itself and eventually post-production, which involves all the montage. You could not imagine, how many important professionals are involved in every stage of film production.

This article is not about the film itself, but about the people behind it, because many hands make light work. These profiles hope to make clear how these people work, how they feel about what they are doing, and why they are so passionate about their jobs. On top of that, a 24-hour journal by one of our respondents offers a unique insight into what making a film is all about – read on to find out!

prod4Chafic Amraoui & Max Moutschen

Age: 27 & 25

Function: Casting managers

Nationalities: Belgium

Organisation: Hakuna Casting

Why and how Hakuna grew: Hakuna Casting came to life only in 2014 as an initiative of two friends, Nabil Mallat and Chafic. Along with the help of the director Bilall Fallah and many other participants, a new casting agency was born! The goal and positive mindset of the Hakuna Crew is all about pointing at diversity.

In a land like Belgium, where so many different kinds of individuals live together, one should definitely realize that not only natives or Flemish/French-speaking people can act or show their face on television. Commercial television focuses on political correctness, but still stresses the cultural and racial differences too much. There is also the strong division between Flemish and Walloon television, that never actually seem to cooperate.

That’s why Hakuna tries to fade out these lines and differences between people and wants to show that talent is everywhere, no matter what size you are, what the colour of your skin is or what your sexual orientation is. Yes, Hakuna Casting aims for ‘diversity’, and in their opinion a Belgian native is equally diverse in his own country as someone who originates from Japan or Mexico.

Working methods: Hakuna makes up a database of actors by organising events like open casting days, like most recently on the 11th of July in Brussels. Headhunting is a 24/7 job. Hakuna also takes care of the coaching of actors who have no experience in front of a camera or on a stage.

Works: The feature films Image, Black, and Belgica; the short films Broeders, Sonar, and Hand in Hand; the music video 03 by NoMobs; commercials for Dash, Unibet, and IP: Creative Solutions.

Duration of casting: Depends on the client; sometimes a selection of actors only takes 1 day, sometimes our actors have to wait for over a month before the client decides!

Do you work with famous Belgian actors or directors? Yes, the directors Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah are booming business in Belgium!! And some of the actors who played in their films and who are known by the mainstream audience join and support Hakuna as well (like Matthias Schoenaerts for example)!

Dream: To keep on working with talented people from any possible background on an equal level. Although they might differ in some way, they all belong to one race, and that’s the human race. Any talent is welcome to the Hakuna family.

Motto: “A generation of new talent!”

Find out more about Hakuna on their website

prod3Ben Verrept

Age: 24

Nationality: Belgium

Function: Director & film student at KASK School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium

Works: Constant & Cécile (short film), The Notorious Visitor (short film for The 48 hour film project), The Desk (Admission for KASK)

Favourite part of film production: Shooting the film itself is without a doubt the most exciting, because it is THE moment where everybody has to perform, but also where everything could go wrong. You have to focus, and clear communication with the cast and crew is of upmost importance. Proper preparation and a motivated team make the work lighter. There is nothing more pleasant than to work with people who feel you and cooperate with you to achieve that specific goal. For example, an actor who keeps on redoing a take until he thinks it’s perfect – that makes shooting a film so fun!

Another thing is that we shot all the short films on location. Standing in a church or in the woods is absurd and fun at the same time. You have to ask people for their permission to shoot there. Most of the time they love to cooperate, like in The Notorious Visitor, where we shot a scene in a shop. 

But eventually, shooting a film is also a bit of improvising. It is just not possible to have everything on a piece of paper. When these things end up to work out just fine, it’s a great kick.

Duration of work: Hard to say, because it depends on how professional you want to be and what the story is you’d like to tell the audience. Script-writing and preproduction like casting, settings, rehearsals, making of storyboards, that takes the longest. The shooting itself should be a process as compact as possible, mostly because then I cannot afford to pay the people I work with and they do it voluntarily. But, of course, it’s all about the quality of the shots.

Post-production is fun as well, because you can check whether what you shot actually works on screen, but in the meantime it’s a lot of work and fumbling around. You can hire a professional editor, but still it could take weeks or months because of the synchronization, soundtrack, etc…Again, if you prepared well before the shooting and already have something in mind for the editing, your time will be spend more efficiently.

Dream: Making a real feature film that becomes selected for a couple of film festivals (Cannes, Berlinale or Venice would be epic of course.)

Motto: “People are beautiful, because they are so absurd.”

Check out Ben’s work on Vimeo

A day through the eyes of Ben Verrept

4-5.30 am: Because I cannot sleep, some inspiration comes up. Quickly take a pencil and paper and continue writing the script.

9-12 am: Finish the script and write down some suitable locations for the film’s setting. Fix a camera and call some actors I know.

1-5 pm: Time to visit some of the possible locations and check them with a camera and script/storyboard. Take some pictures there of shots I have in mind and change them when they don’t seem manageable in reality. Note down which lenses I have to use in order to get the best shots (long shot, close up, etc), in a professional situation, that would be in cooperation with the DOP.

Pay attention to possible disturbing noises, which you should normally do together with a sound technician. Also ask for permission to film at the locations when necessary.

5-7 pm: Watch some films. Change the storyboard when possible and order a camera according to the storyboard (I don’t own many of the camera types I need myself). Also, the actors confirm, after which I send them the script and inform them about what I expect from them. Are directions clear? Make appointments with the actors to meet and discuss the script.

8-10 pm: Run through the script once again. Make out for myself what kind of feel and emotion I would like to put into the film. Act the script for myself, imagining the actors doing it.

Make a list of all the props I need on all of the locations and write down every single possible difficulty (weather circumstances, noises, and so on). Shall I use music in my film or not? What kind of music? I don’t necessarily have to know that already, those things may change, but at least it leads me in a specific direction.

prod2Beth Dewey

Age: 53

Nationality: American

Function: Director

Production company: Film Entity

Work: The feature films Tweeked (which won Best Actress at the Brussels Independent Film Festival), Kill House, Erasing Eden and Pimp Girl (currently in production); the short films Outcall, Conflicted, and The Agency; music videos for Vampire Moose and The Lonely Trees; the web series Shadowlands and Living the Dream.

Influences: Kathryn Bigelow, Catherine Hardwick, Jane Campion, Agnes Varda, Michelle MacLaren

Favourite part of film production: Most definitely pre-production, because that’s where the magic happens. You first prepare and then everything else comes to life in the moment.

Duration of work: It really depends on the financing. Fund raising and packaging can take the longest. It generally takes me a couple of years – at least -to make a film from start to finish. Sometimes the film gets hung up at the end of post-production because there’s no money left and we go into a holding pattern while we finish fundraising.

Dream: Bigger, better, faster, more!

Plus, since I am  a female director in a business that is (unfortunately) still dominated by men, I also prefer to give a voice to women in my productions.

Motto: “Slates are for pussies” (something I live to regret at times)

Find out more about Beth’s work on her website 

12032260_10156016582680024_1553052085153946996_n (2)Bilall Fallah

Age: 29

Nationality: Belgium/Moroccan

Function: Director (partner of Adil El Arbi)

Works: The feature films Image and Black (in post-production); the short film Broeders, the TV series Bergica.

Influences: Great directors like Oliver Stone, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. These directors inspired me and Adil when we were still in school.

An important source of inspiration for our first feature film Image (2014) was La Haine (1995) by Mathieu Kassovitz, which is a rough film about life in the suburbs. Our next film, Black, is based on a book by the Flemish author Dirk Bracke, but one could definitely compare the atmosphere of the film with that of the 2002 Cidade de Deus by Meirelles and Lund.  

Favourite part of film production: The production itself, by which I mean the moments on the set. At that stage, you really get the chance to really shoot all the material you need for the final cut. It is exciting and also the moment of truth, where you have to make the right decisions. You can witness your characters and written-down scenes come to life! Shooting a film is a moment of total devotion to your work!

But also most definitely the editing, because as a director you are still involved at this stage and the film takes on its final shape!

Duration: Depends on the project of course, whether it is a short film or a feature film.

Dream: A double one. Firstly, I love conveying the message of only 1 person and making it interpretable for the rest of the world. And also, I want to make it internationally, so I can make real big ‘epic cinema’ like Ben Hur or Gladiator!

Motto: Multiple. But maybe in this context the most suitable would be: The less f***s you give, the more happy you will be!

Find out more about Bilall’s new film Black on its official website

prod1Thijs Van Nuffel

Age: 27

Nationality: Belgium

Function: freelance editor/assistant editor

Works: The feature films Moroccan Gigolos, Wat Mannen Willen (What Men Want – expected in theaters November); the short films De Weg Van Alle Vlees (The Way of All Flesh), De Smet, Lilith, Kus Me Zachtjes (Kiss Me Softly), Aller-Retour, Dit Is Ronald (This is Ronald); assistant editor on D’ardennen, Galloping Mind, Waste Land, The Land of The Enlightened, and Home (currently in production).

Influences: When it comes to editing, it is quite hard to be influenced by someone, but I do admire Nico Leunen (Belgium), who I assist regularly, for his approach to the editing job.

Favourite part of post-production: Film editing is my favourite, no doubt about that! Although I do like to keep track of the sound editing, grading and mixing as well. Right now I am assisting, which means I have to make back-ups and have to synchronize all footage that has been shot the day before. This also includes doing the pre-cuts of every scene, which is the most interesting thing about assisting, in my opinion.

Duration of editing: That depends on the film. People keep on asking me that question even when the film is still in production, which I obviously cannot answer. You never know whether there are going to be any problems and how long it will take before they get solved, but the most recent film I edited (What Men Want) only took me 13 weeks.

The process that takes the longest though, I think, is optimizing the narrative structure. Some scenes might belong somewhere else, are superfluous, or need editing to such a high degree to make them valuable for the narrative. The entire process is one of trial and error.

Dream: To be able to always make films that are valuable to film as an art form!

Sample Thijs’ work by watching the trailers to Lilith (2013) and What Men Want (coming soon).

prodHannes De Maeyer

Age: 29

Nationality: Belgium

Function: Composer

Works: The feature films Image and Black (currently in post-production); the short films De Applausman, Baghdad Messi, Land of Heroes, How to Enrich Yourself by Driving Women Into Emotional and Financial Bankruptcy, Jappegem, On the Road and 19:00; the TV shows Voor Wat Hoort Wat and Professor T.

Favourite part of film production: That moment at the end of the day when you can look back at the beginning of it and realize you started with nothing on your computer screen, but by then you composed something that is beautiful and fits on the film tracks. This also counts for the final mix of a film, the point at which I think back at the start where I was in doubt about how I would manage it and where I had no clue at all about what I would compose.

Duration of work: Depends on the kind of music and how much music is needed, but the entire process will take approximately 1 to 2 months. Sometimes it’s a bit shorter, but it could take longer as well.

Dream: To help with many other inspiring and interesting projects, like films or TV series which I would like to watch myself as a viewer. And, of course, to work with talented, fun and inspiring people in the film industry.

Motto: How about ‘turn on the volume of the sound mix, please!’

Visit hdmusic.be for more about Hannes’ work.

Johnny Depp brings life to monotonous “Black Mass”

12246767_10153699059592591_411165353807225750_nPublished in The Spread

Black Mass might not be the exciting action-drama fans of gangster movies we’re looking for, but committed performances from Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton keep the film watchable.

bmScott Cooper’s 3rd feature film, after Crazy Heart (2009) and Out of the Furnace (2013), is the crime drama Black Mass. The film is based on the book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob, written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill and published in 2001.

Black Mass, though labelled an action/crime film, is mainly a dialogue-driven drama that tells the life story of one of South Boston’s most wanted gangsters from the 70’s onwards, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, and his FBI friend and ally John Connolly. He helps Connolly to solve federal crimes, and in return he stays free from all legal charges against him. That, of course, does not last, and the bulk of the film explores what happens when all this corruption comes out.

The main plot, then, is framed around the hearing of the accused gang members of Bulger’s gang, Winter Hill, and is told as a chronological story from the 70s up to the 00s, making Black Mass more of a biopic than the action film some might have expected. And to be honest, I’m not really a fan of the gangster biopic, but I’ve of course seen the classics. I could easily put Black Mass in the same category as Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990) or Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco (1997). Unfortunately, this one misses the extra punch to live up to these classics.

Black Mass has a rather weak plot, lacks complexity, and never reaches a real climax. There’s nothing that makes the audience want to sit on the tips of our chairs. Overall, the film is really one long continuity of small things happening without much suspense, though the strength of the actors manages to push the story forward.

The cast deserve a huge shout-out. Bulger is played by Johnny Depp, whose most popular roles in the last decade have seen him typecast as the silly moron and anti-hero, as in the Pirates of the Caribbean series (2003-2011) or in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2011). In Black Mass, Depp seems to finally break the curse of these typical roles, and is almost unrecognizable covered under heaps of make-up, a wig, and blue contacts.

Depp performs Bulger as a mobster with equal capacity for both cruelty and humanity. Throughout the film he retains his cold-blooded poker face, which unfortunately almost turns caricatural near the end. Depp’s performance – and, for the most part, his transformation – is nonetheless outstanding, but in my opinion not as remarkable as his role of Donnie in Donnie Brasco.

The real standout of the cast, however, is Joel Edgerton, playing the opportunistic, corrupt FBI agent John Connolly. Edgerton’s acting is never overdone, and always realistic. Other popular faces are Kevin Bacon as Connolly’s prosecutor, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s younger brother and member of the Massachusetts Senate, William M. Bulger. And then there’s Dakota Johnson, who plays the role of Whitey Bulger’s ex-mistress and mother of his son. Unfortunately, it’s impossible now to watch her acting without thinking about 50 Shades of Grey.

Besides the acting, another thing that keeps on catching our attention is the comical – and rather cynical – dialogue. In one scene, Bulger is supposed to tell off his son Douglas (Luke Ryan) after he has punched a kid in class. But instead of being mad at his son, he gives him tips to do the beating properly next time, saying “if nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.”

And as is typical for a gangster movie, there’s also a lot of profanity: at one moment I started counting the “fuck(ing)s”, and although the amount couldn’t beat Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), the number of curse words is still quite impressive. bm2

The work of DOP Masanobu Takayanagi, known for his work on Silver Linings Playbook, also makes the film worth watching; he deftly manages to switch between close-ups and panoramic shots whenever it fits the moment best, and he plays with light and contrast to make the Bostonian setting less grey and chilly.

Lovers of fast-paced mafia films and the action of the crime genre should stay far away from Black Mass, because its lack of suspense and lackluster plot will surely disappoint. But for everyone else, the witty dialogue, unrecognizable Johnny Depp and superb aesthetic quality make the film well worth a watch.

“Black” goes loud

As you all know by now, the Belgian film Black by Adil el Arbi and Bilall Fallah is now in cinema’s throughout  Belgium since its release on 11/11.

The film is a major succes and even causes discussion on the minimum age-regulations in Belgium. Black is rated 16+, but the novels by Dirk Brackeon whick the film is based are young adult novels written for 12-18-year olds. This all results in more people wanting to watch the film, everybody wants to know what the fuzz is all about.

In the meantime though, the promo campaign is still on….

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Fans and crew are driving around with their own costumized car!

This one right here is mine :)!

Whoever still wants to have a nice black-sticker, can send an e-mail to film.black@caviarcontent.com.