Case Study: For Better or For Worse Rembert Evenepoel talks about his film.
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Case Study: For Better or For Worse

Rembert Evenepoel talks about his film.

Rembert Evenepoel went from former television director at a national television channel to film director of the short film “For Better or For Worse”

“If your film is a personal project and not a commercial assignment, only work with people who you can trust and love.”


27 oktober 2017

The idea

“The idea for For better or for worse came into my mind in 2013, when I suddenly went from having a stable job as television director at the national television channel of Flanders and having a steady relationship, to living back with my parents (and broke as hell because I quit my job).”

“In that period I started to wonder about the purpose or use of relationships. Why do human beings get married, what’s the point of it, why do we want to decide at an early stage in our lives to be together with one person for eternity?”

“All these questions started slumbering in my head and in April 2014 I wrote my first draft of a story about a young couple on their bachelor weekend. I’m by the way not the kind of writer that gets behind his computer and starts working. I’m very jealous of writers who can! In my case, I rather believe that in order to write something, you’ve got to live a bit first. It’s like a disease: first of all you’ve got to pick up the virus somewhere, let it boil in your mind and body and when the time is right it will come out in the form of an idea for a story.”

Funding the film

“I took me about 20 drafts before I found it was ready to send it in to the national commission to get funding, in September 2014. Unfortunately, we were rejected. So, with all the feedback of the commission (which was really helpful!) we started from scratch again, rethinking every little detail. By this time I got my producer, Manu De Smet, on board who was the perfect co-writer to constantly defy the changes I made and to push me further. If I can give one piece of advice to starting writer or directors: find someone who you can trust. Someone who you can be vulnerable with without fearing his / her reaction. There’s nothing more scarier than writing a first draft and show it to someone… It’s also important, I think, that this person is someone that’s also in the business and knows what he/she is talking about. Don’t choose your partner or parents (unless they’re in the business, of course).”

“So, after 14 more drafts, we were ready to take our second and last chance with national commission, but again we were rejected. This was May 2015. Although their feedback was really nice, we were left in the dark with a script where Manu and myself very much believed in and already put very much time and effort in, but with zero money. Manu, who was the producer, wanted to pull the plug out of the project, but I was more determined and so we started looking for private investors.”

“While we were doing this, we were also already looking for locations and booking cast and crew, because we really wanted to shoot in August 2015 so we could apply for Leuven Kort, the biggest short film festival of Flanders.”

“Two weeks before shooting we had found the half of our locations, the half of our crew (luckily all the department-heads were on board) and our main investor just reduced his funding with 50%. Again Manu wanted to call off the entire project, so I decided advance the entire missing budget (yup, this was painful!).”

Someway, somehow we managed to get everything started and the shooting period (5 nights, 1 day) went like a charm.

Filmselections

“Also the post production (5 editing days) went perfect, grading and sound recording / mixing also, so that we were ready before the deadline of Leuven Kort. But… we were not selected! This was a huge slap in the face, but all the other international selections that followed made a lot up for it. Funny fact: it was during attending one of these festivals that I noticed that our film was way too long. So I cut out 7 of the 17 minutes. Having all our financial problems in mind, Manu could really kill me because we could’ve shot the film in 2 nights and one day instead of 5 nights and a day. The lesson I learned by doing this, is not only to kill your darlings, but – and especially with short films – learn to start your story as late as possible.”

Looking back

“Looking back, there are a few things that I would do differently. First of all: way more meetings with my DOP! I had a very large moodboard for every scene and character and a detailed shot list made on my own, but you should really create this together with your DOP. Don’t be afraid to do this, even though you’re probably not confident enough to discuss lenses and lighting with a professional… Because we didn’t have enough conversations between the two of us in advance, we started getting new ideas on the set, which took a lot of precious shooting time. So again: talk, talk, talk!”

“Another thing that I learned is to involve your art director (or set dresser) and costume designer way earlier in the process. These guys need a lot of preparation-time, the same as location scouting. Actually, I think you need to get these people on board as soon you’ve got a green light, and then start looking for cast and other department heads.”

Music

“About the music… This was really important to me. I worked with a good friend of mine who was in some sort of the same position in life as I was, so he really understood every scene. By the time we started shooting he already made some basic tracks, that we used during the shooting: sometimes we just put the music on during the scene so that the actor could really understand the mood and vibe of the scene.”

Piece of advice

“To end with, if I can give one last piece of advice: if your film is a personal project and not a commercial assignment, only work with people who you can trust and love. On the set is everything teamwork, so make sure you’re a team. Collaborate with old friends from high school, give some chances to people and make everyone feel important. On top of that, look for people who can affiliate with the story you’re trying to tell. You’ll be surprised of the amount of input you then get…”

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