Yesterday was a very nice day. Firstly we all had breakfast together after spending the weekend at home, and immediately realized that we all had big fights with our partners at some point over the past few days  that is so typical, but also very funny. But then we got down to business and shot two sequences, which I was very happy with.

The first was when Richard walks along the street with a lot of extras, looking them in the face, trying to provoke a reaction. This is a signature sequence for Richard as this defines his very prickly personality. Eduard sees him and follows him into a tanning salon, where we shot the second sequence.

But it was also a beautiful day for quite another reason. Yesterday I was awarded the Special Achievement in Direction Award by my colleagues in the Dutch Directors Guild for my tv series Adam and Eva. My partner accepted the award for me as the shoot in Brussels  continued through to 8pm, just as the award ceremony was beginning in Amsterdam. For me, directing is all about trying to gain freedom, to liberate yourself from life’s problems, and I was so happy that it worked out so well with this series. And to receive this award from my peers is extra special. They know exactly how difficult it can be to create an entertainment of real significance.

And yesterday too, my editor Isabel Meier visited the set. She was here just for the one day, but this day was very important both for her and for me as she got to see the production at first hand and to get to know the actors better.

Since the first day of production we have all led a nomadic life travelling froml ocation to location. Sometimes we have to use three locations in one day, and yesterday’s scene in the tanning studio was cramped and uncomfortable and very very claustrophobic.

But now we start an 8-day period of shooting in the house of Eduard. It is very large and beautiful with a sumptuous library and a winter garden, and the art department has a done a wonderful job in refurbishing it. It is like walking through the desert and reaching an oasis. Everybody will be very happy to stay in one  place for a while.

By the way, I contemplated celebrating my award with a bottle or two of champagne with the cast and crew, but I figured that this could wait. So I celebrated instead by having a nice early night and good sleep ahead of a very busy day.

Norbert ter Hall


When the story becomes something of itself

In a film production you always have to find your rhythm quickly and, if I am really honest, during the first few days of this film shoot I found it really hard to get into my stride. No scenes were messed up. Nothing was spoilt. And in the end we did a really good job. But nevertheless this period of uncertainty lasted longer that I thought it would.
But yesterday, things turned full circle. For the first time I had the feeling that we had finally arrived. We were shooting two scenes, the first in which Edurne assesses the photos she has taken on her digital camera before deciding on her future, the second when Eduard turns and leaves the Atomium building.
In Veronicas (Edurne) scene I asked her to wear a Mona Lisa smile that the audience could interpret as one of happiness or sadness or relief. The way she reacted to this instruction was with a gesture both complex and magical, and beautiful. 
In the scene where Mark (Eduard) runs from the Atomium building we decided to shoot from an objective angle, towards the camera and using a long lens. First he started walking, and then he was running, and then we realised this action could be interpreted both as leaving a failed relationship or embracing a new and better future. It was an inspiring moment.
These scenes turned out more wonderful than I imagined they could, and this surprised me. It wasnt as if we shot anything other than what is in the script, but we discovered more options than I had originally seen. That is always the most interesting moment, when the story becomes something of itself, when it becomes in some way self-determining, when it begins to dictate its own logic.
Filmmaking is not something you can do alone. It is collaborative, and it can only fly when everybody contributes their best, at which point the result can be something that none of us ever expected. That is what you are looking to achieve when making a movie. Otherwise it is just a straight repetition of what is in your imagination, and that would be rather boring.
Norbert ter Hall
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