Case Study: A Stranger from the Past A Stranger from the Past is one of the 12 selected short films which will compete for the SHIFT Film Festival awards.
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Case Study: A Stranger from the Past

A Stranger from the Past is one of the 12 selected short films which will compete for the SHIFT Film Festival awards.

Jan Verdijk is a Dutch director and screenwriter. He rose to prominence after his CineSud Shorts film Wild (2018) won the prestigious Méliès d’Or at Sitges Film Festival for best European Fantastic Short film. After completing his film studies at the Utrecht School of the Arts, Jan made his directorial debut with the short A Man Falls from the Sky (2017). The movie was critically acclaimed at over twenty screenings, gathering much praise for its direction and world building. Currently Jan is developing a science fiction film for the Dutch streaming platform Videoland, alongside writing his first feature.

"Having experienced the future of automotive, it dawned on me how most of us with non-electric cars are living in nostalgic times."

27 augustus 2020

An idea born from nostalgia

"A friend of mine recently let me drive his Tesla. Immediately I was overwhelmed with a sense of futurism. When I stepped back into my own car - a diesel - it felt prehistoric. Like a loud, shaky monster. Having experienced the future of automotive, it dawned on me how most of us with non-electric cars are living in nostalgic times. The idea for this film was born that day."

Writing the script

"Usually, in my case, these things take a lot of time. But this one was written in one afternoon. The idea was so clear, there's no dialogue, and the whole thing is so 'tiny', that it only took a couple of hours. I wrote it at home. I did two drafts. The first one didn’t have an ending. It was just the mechanic running away. After having written de script I started the project's production. Of course, a couple of weeks before shooting, I made a very detailed shot list with the DOP. And we talked a lot about color and lighting."

Preparing production and monster

"Before we started with the production we already had most of the funding (via AFK). We got our crew from our network. DPPLR has a big network of course. And I brought some crew (DOP and 1st AD) from my previous film. We only had money for 1 shooting day. That's why we made a very detailed and economic shotlist. No time to waste. In the end we used almost every shot in the edit."

"For me one of the most important things was the monster. It needed to look good and move like a monster, not like a guy in a suit. So I found a terrific actor with a background in modern dance/mime/acrobatics, and we did some rehearsals for the movement."

"The production itself went great. We prepared very well, so there were no surprises. I think we only went half an hour over the estimated shooting time."

Post-production

"In the edit we were searching for the right tempo. The first edit was way too fast, which killed the tension. It was around 3,5 minutes. The final edit is 5 minutes."

"Daniel, the producer, introduced me to the amazing composer Koen van de Wardt. He immediately knew what my idea was with the music and created this insane score/soundscape. His first version was already great, so we only changed some sounds and details."

"We also did a colour correction. We did the grading in one day. The DOP and I pre-graded some stills of the film ourselves and along with the color grader we found the right look based on that. The DCP was made inhouse, by DPPLR. Everything worked like a charm."

Going on

"We're doing the festival distribution ourselves. We are working on this as we speak. We have some selections already, for example at: BIFAN South Korea, Imagine, NFF, Screamfest LA, SHIFT, and a couple of other festivals."

"My tip for other directors is to keep things short and compact. It is way better to tell something really small really well, than to drown yourself in a production which is too big for the resources you have available. Something small is already a huge effort to produce."

A Stranger from the Past

Short Film Competition 1
September 11, 18.00-19.30, Online

Get your free viewing-link here!

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

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