The director's path towards her career
The Dutch filmmaker Maasja Ooms has not always been dreaming about connecting her life with cinematography. In fact, she actually wanted to study biochemistry. However, as the readers might notice when watching her films or reading this article, things turned out completely differently. It was her grandfather who changed her mind. Maasja remembers: "My grandfather was always carrying a camera around his neck. He was fond of photography. Nevertheless he was just a passionate amateur. As a child I was excited when he showed me how he was printing his pictures in his darkroom." Seeing how the images appear as if from nowhere definitely was a magical performance for a young girl. Therefore, later in her life she decided to try it herself and discover this magical but at the same time unknown world of photography.
The director studied phootgraphy in The Hague. Despite the fact that Maasja's wish was fulfilled and she learned all the secrets of photography from the technical side, she was not completely satisfied with her profession. The filmmaker says: "When I finished the School of the Arts for photography I started working as an assistant photographer and soon felt that I was not ready to work as a professional yet."
Maasja Ooms wanted to continue researching and experimenting in a school environment in order to understand her vocation and study it properly. Soon she found out that she liked watching documentaries and felt that moving images had more expressiveness than just one image. The director says: "At that time there was also something of an activist in me, like feelings of injustice towards various matters. Thus I thought storytelling suited me better as with its help I could meet my activist's goals. Furthermore, artistically, using a camcorder instead of a photo camera was a challenge for me."
Maasja Ooms entered the Film Academy in Amsterdam so as to study cinematography. She comments that technically there was a big overlap in subjects with the photography courses she had taken, such as lighting of subjects/portraits. Therefore, it was usually a bit boring for Maasja. Instead, her favorite subject was Human Behaviour, what lies behind the unsaid. She says: "The academy focused mainly on the technical side while I wanted to investigate who I was and what I wanted to express. That's why I have been thinking about going to the Gerrit Rietveld Academy for a long time.”
Eventually, the director decided not to submit an application for studying there. Maasja believes it is one of the reasons why her own development as a director has been slow. She had been working as a cinematographer for a huge period of time before she felt the need to tell something specific with movies on her own.
Experimenting in the role of an editor
During the work on her own films Maasja Ooms started noticing that the editors who were in her team did not understand her way of perceiving the world through camera. This fact has become a driving force for the director to experiment in the field of editing herself. She remembers: "I started editing my own filmed material because I often felt that other editors were spoiling my movies. They often cut the material into pieces… My way of shooting is often narrative and by doing the editing work by myself in the films which I shot, I was able to leave scenes intact that, in my opinion, made these films more powerful." Maasja says that she likes all the parts of editing: spotting the material, building scenes, combining scenes in search for the best dramaturgy, etc.