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A Twenty-four Seven Friendship: An Interview with Nadine van den Belt

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

I feel like I’ve always been a silent observer and note-taker of powerful cinematography by other filmmakers, trying to soak up every detail of the craft. Seeing how every element of a film scene aligns seamlessly – the imagery, the camera motion and the music – altogether carrying me into emotional landscapes somewhere in my soul I never knew existed. The ability to craft your own world by storytelling, inviting others to make it a part of their own, has always fascinated me.

Yet, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I took my first active step into the world of filmmaking by joining the vibrant local film community in Berlin. There, amidst other passionate film enthusiasts, I found the courage to bring my vision of ‘crafting and inviting to my own world’ to life. I began deep diving into the realms of the internet, mainly YouTube, trying to learn every detail about filmmaking, from lightning to editing and in parallel, translating my theoretical knowledge into action, by directing my first short film ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’.

I know that I still have lots to learn and experience, but getting the current level of attention for this film dear to my heart feels like the beginning of an exciting new chapter in my journey as filmmaker.


Tell us about ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’. How do you describe it?

‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’ is a radically honest introspection the constant usage of social media and digital distractions to fill the void during moments in which you feel lonely. It raises the question to which degree technology is substituting human needs. Adding to this, it touches upon topics such as social anxiety and the relentless self-obsession about the idealized public self-image and ultimately, the undeniable impact of genuine human connections on our wellbeing.

Making this film was a way for me to go through my own personal experience. Amidst last winter, I’ve just moved to a new city and found myself getting so comfortable at home that it turned into self-imposed isolation. The comfort of enjoying my own company grew into a feeling of stagnation and self-pity. Having a moment where I saw myself in this situation from outside, I decided to start putting my struggles on film and see if it will lead me somewhere.

What then began, was something astonishing – I slowly, but surely noticed how filming helped me transform my passive and dull state of mind into a creative and passionate ideation process. I had this constant task in front of my eyes, figuring out how to best put the complexity of my conflicting and contradicting thoughts into a compelling narrative for the viewers to understand and be able to discover themselves in the depiction of my struggles. By making myself vulnerable in ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’, I want to demonstrate that it’s not an experience of one person, but many. My hope is that after watching it, you feel a shared sense of genuine vulnerability in the room, to foster hope and compassion for each other.

Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

To me, Greta Gerwig is a big inspiration. Of course, I am impressed by the fact that she, as a woman, has successfully established her position as one of the most influential directors in a still male-dominated industry and owns this position with regards to her storytelling, focusing on mainly female protagonists and their lives in her films such as ‘Lady Bird’ or ‘Barbie’. To me, the way she narrates stories about the complexities of human experience feels very genuine and authentic. At the same time, similar to Wes Anderson, I admire the way how she portrays the imperfect reality with so much joy, warmth and hope.

I feel very similar about Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. The tragic storyline can make you feel melancholic about the messy contradictions of life, yet you are totally in awe of its beauty. In addition, I am fascinated by the captivating cinematography of La La Land: The long takes, the music, the meticulous attention to color choice in costume and set design, all serving the purpose to reinforce the protagonists’ emotions and make the viewers feel deeply for them.


If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?

With a good budget at hand, I would assemble a team of highly talented as equally passionate individuals, bringing their expertise of their respective fields and perspectives to the project. I would invest a lot in creating an atmosphere of shared excitement and passion about the project vision. The team dynamic should feel stimulating and motivating. By leveraging the collective creativity of the team, we can ensure that we create something fun and meaningful we will be proud of. At the same time, I would be aware of the fact that every creative project needs a dedicated leader at the end, forming an opinion based on the group input and taking decisions for the sake of the successful and timely completion of the project.

Other film elements I care a lot about and I would put emphasis on would be attention to detail in the set design, aesthetic film compositions and a powerful musical score. Especially speaking about the latter one, I think having the highest quality audio possible for your film is so crucial. That’s why I would hire the best sound designers I can find, invest in advanced recording equipment and license a few carefully selected music tracks that strengthen the emotional showcase of my vision.


Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

I’ll be honest here – I would hire a very competent assistant director taking on this task, as I have more fun in creatively shaping the overall vision and direction of the film than overseeing all deadlines and detailing out production plans. Of course I would do my best in doing as much preparation during pre-production as possible and fostering effective communication and clear transparency by pro-actively sharing all my plans, visions and breakdowns such as storyboards and shotlists with the crew in an early state. In addition, I would maintain an open and flexible mind in case of unforeseen challenges during shooting.


What was the hardest part of making ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’.

While I was completely autonomous filming ‘A Twenty-four Seven Friendship’ mainly on my own, it of course created a huge workload for me at the end. I especially underestimated how long it took me to edit the film. Going through the huge pile of shots and putting them together with the sound design and music to establish the film’s flow that feels right to me and thereby, resulting in a lot of different versions, was a time-consuming, but at the end necessary process for the sake of the final cut. In the future, I am eager to collaborate with other creative individuals, distributing the work according to our talents and sharing a common vision we are passionate about.


If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

While ‘A Twenty-Four Seven Friendship’ mainly revolved around the relationship with oneself, for my next film I am currently working on story concepts around interpersonal relationships and group dynamics. Making this film and witnessing how people resonate with it opened up another pile of topics for me that I feel like are worth a deeper exploration, such as touch starvation, one of the many consequences of the pandemic and increasing technology usage in our daily life. I am particular curious about the way how living in an individualist vs. collective society shapes our sense of responsibility, belonging and personality and thereby, impacts the wellbeing of the individual.



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