Case Study: Waiting Room Laura Huygen tells about her short documentary Waiting Room.
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Case Study: Waiting Room

Laura Huygen tells about her short documentary Waiting Room.

With limited access to a job or entertainment, how would you spend your time? Laura Huygen's film Waiting Room is a portrait of eight people who await their asylum procedure, showing what they do during the day and what all that waiting does to them. The film was shot in Heerlen and celebrates its premier at the Euregion Film Festival 2020!

"I hope that the screening will create more awareness about the living situations of people living in the asylum seekers center."

17 februari 2020

The subject

"During the last few years of high school I was volunteering with Stichting de Vrolijkheid at the asylum seekers center in Heerlen, where Waiting Room takes place. This foundation organizes activities for children and young adults at the center, which meant that I found myself immersed with the people living there."

"During my time there I witnessed many meaningful moments. Every time one of those moments occurred, I wished a camera was present to capture it. I had been wanting to make a documentary about the people living there ever since and after studying Film and Anthropology I finally felt that I was in a place to capture it well." 

"During my research I spoke to young adults who are living at the center by themselves and they all described the same issue to me; the constant waiting. My curiosity about what waiting means to them, how they spend their time and the effects of waiting drove me to the subject and shape of the film."


"I joined the activities of Stichting de Vrolijkheid for young adults for a couple of weeks, where I got to know some of the characters. I chatted to them while we were painting, making music or having dinner together. These settings gave me the opportunity to start an informal conversation in which we got to know each other. About half of the people I spoke to didn’t want to be a part of the film, but many were open to telling me about their lives in the center instead. Their insights were very helpful in shaping the film."

Finding the crew and characters

"When we started the production I had five characters who wanted to be a part of the film. I found most of the characters at the last moment. I was worried about not having enough people but since the residents of asylum seekers centers must move often, it was not possible to make plans to film a long time in advance. During the production we attracted some attention, since we were walking around with a camera which meant that people would come up to us and ask what we were doing. Through that we found three more characters for the film."

"I found the majority of my crew-members though a filmmaker’s collective in Amsterdam. During production I worked with Jasper ter Mors who did both the cinematography and the sound recording. In editing I worked with Max Ploeg and the sound mix was done by Thymo Boog."

Preparing for production

"After the research phase I realized that I wanted to show the characters doing their everyday things where the waiting would be an underlying layer to these activities. I decided that I would first interview them with audio recording only. Amongst other questions, I would ask them how they spend their time and from the things they told me I chose one aspect that would fit into the film. I prepared for the interviews by thinking about the themes that I liked to be thematized in the film and by reading anthropological works about waiting."


"For this film we had four shooting days. Each day we would film with one or two characters. There were not many setbacks or challenges during the production. I think it helped that we had a clear image of what we wanted to shoot but in a way that was not restraining us." 

"We knew the shape of the film but not the exact actions we wanted to film which meant that there was enough space to explore and play around with possibilities. This is also the part that I enjoyed most about the production since we got a chance to take some time to figure out what moments would be good to capture. Luckily, we found characters who were willing to open up to us."


"The film finally got its shape during the post-production. I was happy to work with an editor whose choices I trusted and who helped me bring the material to a higher level. The process took a long time since we had to work around our schedules. This was a positive thing since it gave us a lot of time to reflect on our choices and see the film with fresh eyes. It was also difficult at times since we had to work with the energy that remained after a workday. In the end it helped to set a strict deadline for ourselves. The sound mix and grade were both done in the same week."


"For the distribution I looked at festivals that matched the theme and that were in the area where the film was shot. I am happy that the film will premiere at the Euregion Film Festival since the festival is located in the city where the film was shot. The asylum seekers center is located at the edge of Heerlen which limits the interactions between residents of the center and people from Heerlen. I hope that the screening will create more awareness about the living situations of people living in the asylum seekers center."

Waiting Room at Euregion Film Festival 2020.

Join the Short Film Competition 2 screening Saturday March 21st, 18.00 at Royal Theater Heerlen.

More information and tickets.

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

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