Start of the career
Marleen van der Werf received her research master’s degrees in Biology and in Philosophy. The combination of these both disciplines helps her to create really philosophical documentary movies which make the audience hold their breath, stop for a minute and think about their inner world and feelings. For instance, by showing nature as it is, Marleen creates the reflection of calmness, which inspires people to think about the philosophical questions of their existence. She comments: “Biology intensified my way of looking at the world and nature particularly, while at the same time philosophy taught me to question the world around me.” These studies guide her on a path of filmmaking and still provide an ongoing source of inspiration for her films.
When Marleen was working as a biologist in Kenya after finishing university, she met a crew filming a new TV program for National Geographic. Instantly, she understood that this was something she wanted to learn herself, as it seemed to be a perfect opportunity to communicate the work on lions she was doing as a researcher to a larger audience. Therefore, Marleen decided to learn how to make films thoroughly by graduating with a Masters in (wildlife) documentary filmmaking in the UK. The director remembers: ”When I studied for my Masters in wildlife film production, my interest shifted from scientific content towards telling more creative stories that express and explore more abstract ideas in a cinematographic way.”
Talking about this time, she mentions that she values having strong and honest discussions about work. What is more, while studying in the UK Marleen realized that she was Dutch to the core and missed working in the Netherlands a lot.