Case Study: Feniks Laurens Zautsen tells about his short Feniks.
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Case Study: Feniks

Laurens Zautsen tells about his short Feniks.

Laurens is in his last year of the Audiovisual Media course at the HKU in Utrecht. During his education he has written and directed short documentaries and fiction-films. His stories focus on a variety of people who are searching for themselves and their own place in society. Productions range from multi-media installations, fiction, online content to documentary.

"Limburg will always be the first place in my mind to be associated with ‘home’."

06 oktober 2019

Back to the roots

"When I was 20 I moved to the Randstad. Originally I was from a small town in the south of Netherlands, Limburg. Once in a while I returned back home to my parent’s place. To me this was a ritual that caused quite some ambivalent feelings. While I enjoyed being back in the calm place I grew up, opposed to the busy city I lived in, I was also confronted by the fact that my attitude towards my hometown environment had changed. I didn’t agree with certain behavior the way I used to when I was younger. Since I was becoming an adult myself I learned that I might have different ideas about how you should live your life the right way."

"In my second year I got quite stressed-out at some point. I have been a perfectionist for a long while during my life. I worked hard for my uni, but at that point my striving for the best result became a bit too much. I stayed at my parent’s place for some weeks to get relaxed again. It was at this point that I inhabited a fear of living a life that won’t get improved during time. I saw my hometown and the way things didn’t really seem to change and for some reason I was afraid I would turn out the same way. It was this fear that inspired me to write the script for ‘Feniks'."

Feniks' origins

"‘Feniks’ is Dutch for ‘Phoenix’, the mythical bird that burns to ashes to get reborn again. I found it quite a good metaphor for our desire to change and live our lives differently. In the film an ambitious fashion-student travels back to his parent’s place. His mother has been depressed for quite some time. In an attempt to change her life a bit, he tries to motivate her to do something new with her life. He actually hopes she can be a phoenix herself, despite her condition."

"This was my first fiction-film consisting of 20 minutes. It was also my graduation-film for the HKU (the art-academy of Utrecht) I wanted to write it in a way that wasn’t too heavy. That’s why I decided to turn it into a tragicomedy. The situations in the film are tough, but they also have some sort of hilarity. It’s this combination of funny and sad moments that define life in my opinion."

Creative process

"During the writing I already collaborated with my DOP, Ward Trommelen. I wanted to create characters that were believable and corresponded with the world that the audience would witness. Together with the feedback of my former crew I kept on working on the story and since I hadn’t written a tragicomedy before I learned quite much during all the rewrites."

"I already had Loes Schnepper in my mind for the role of the mother when I was working on the story. It was amazing that she was enthusiastic about the script. After some time we also casted Lars Brinkman for the role of the protagonist and Maarten Brorens for the role of Jos. It was a honor to work with these actors. Not only were they able to make these characters their own, they were also able to add new elements by giving amazing creative input."

Made in Limburg

"We shot the film in the area where I grew up. Something that was very joyful for me, I already desired this idea since the first year of my education. When we designed the spaces the story would take place we didn’t limit ourselves. We found a beautiful farm near Klimmen where we were allowed to paint the walls. We shot the film at 8 different locations, from the Rotterdam Central station to the parking area near the Roda Stadium. It was a rollercoaster, but the relief that we captured everything was amazing."

"The editing was the moment we reshaped the story. Since it was my first long fiction, certain mistakes were inevitable. But we worked hard to create a structure that would work. On the same time Beau Zwart worked on the score of the film. Since the mother in the film is a carnival singer we even created an original song that is played during one of the scenes in the film. My own mother provided the vocals for this."

"Looking back at the entire process of the film I can just say that I really learned a lot and for me that is the most valuable thing. I have been blessed to work with such a lovely crew and cast at one of the most beautiful locations to tell a story. Because even though I moved to the Randstad to start a new life, Limburg will always be the first place in my mind to be associated with ‘home’."

Wildcard winner!

Feniks won the prestigious Wildcard from the Netherlands Film Fund!

Read more.

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