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Myrthe Nauta Don't Say War: An Interview with Jan-Willem Bult

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘Myrthe Nauta Don't say war’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

I must have been 13 years old when I came out of bed, entered the living room and my parents were watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I probably watched a bit with them and then must have said: “I want to make things like that.”

At the age of 17 I had a Saturday job, earned some money, bought my first 8mm filmcamera and started my first filmcompany ‘Atlantis Film Productions’. With a friend from school acting, I made a trilogy of shortfilms about love and death. One entitled ‘Hitch’, a tribute in style of the master. Since then I’ve been making films and tv all my life and in different positions, including being creative head of tv channels.

For KRO Netherlands Public Broadcasting I developed and produced over 125 films, programs and series for young audiences. The past decade I started a new production company in which I develop and realize independent films and I’m doing a lot of news and ngo documentaries for a.o. Free Press Unlimited, UNICEF and United Way.

Tell us about ‘Myrthe Nauta | Don't say war’. How do you describe it?

When I heard Myrthe her spoken word I was impressed and suggested to go into the studio and see what would happen. I more often work with artists and we always try it to make it an experiment of a two way creative process. It is a strong personal view of Myrthe on how Putin’s ban of the word ‘war’ could impact many people and especially journalists, who should be able to report in freedom, not in fear.

Once in the studio I tried some classic shots and classic lighting until I found a light and an angle that gave a raw and direct style and personality to the performance. That creates a unique film language for her words.

Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

As a young adult, I saw a retrospective of the French Nouvelle Vague in Amsterdam cinemas. It struck me completely, I felt in all modesty a connection between this philosophy of filmmaking and what I tried in my first shortfilms. Especially impressive to me were Alain Resnais ‘Hiroshima mon amour’ and ‘L’année dernière à Marienbad’, François Truffaut films, Claude Chabrol, Agnes Varda. Later the early Danish Dogma films and the Coppola’s for instance. Directors that I’m currently following closely are for instance Celine Sciamma and Ruben Östlund.

Director Jan-Willem Bult

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

One thing I haven’t written and directed so far is a feature film. If the money would be there I would work out a couple of ideas that I have and realize the one that feels most needed at that moment. In fact this is not different from the shortfilm projects that I’m doing, but that is sometimes even without a budget.

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

Fully understanding why and what you’re doing, who you need, what the potential of your film project is and what the pitfalls. Then there are projects where ‘on schedule’ means ‘reached it’s potential’. It’s all all about decisions.

What was the hardest part of making ‘Myrthe Nauta | Don't say war’.

First of all there was a great spoken word written by Myrthe. That made the filming a creative joy, an energetic search that literally found the light. The editing was technically not difficult, but needed organic creation, an invention to complete the image. All the graphic ideas were born there, the font, the color of the black and white, the framing, the contrast.

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

At the moment I’m doing quite some social documentaries and art and continue to do so. Meanwhile working on a feature length football documentary of a forgotten but significant story. I’m in the middle of editing a short documentary with children as main characters and I started developing some new shortfilm ideas. I’m also supporting my girlfriend with a shortfilm that she is developing in Argentina. Besides all this I’m lecturing around the world and supporting local film and tv projects, especially those made for preschool, children or youth with the intention to avoid mainstream by connecting deeper with autonomous main characters.

And not to forget, I’m making a cinema podcast ‘Night of the Filmmusic’ and sometimes dj with it on filmfestivals.


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