Case Study: Daydrift

Tim Jans about his short film which was selected for Euregion Film Forum 2024 and won the Best Euregion Film Award.

The short film Daydrift by Tim Jans was part of the Short Film Competition | Made in Euregion in the Euregion Film Forum 2024. For this case-study he tells us about his screewriting process and how the film was made.

A personal story

"The idea for this film came to me after hearing my dad share a personal story about his time at a boarding school, where he spent most of his childhood. It really struck a chord with me, and resembled an issue I see a lot of people around me struggling with. During my work as a volunteer in several institutions, I have talked to people in prisons, institutions, and twelve step programs. All these stories seemed to be related in one way or the other. A genuine loss of real connection and how it impacted all these lives. I also drew a lot from my own experience but wanted to make it more universal.That’s when I decided to make a shortfilm about this topic."

Of research and inspiration

"I wrote the script within approximately one year, including research. During early drafts I consulted some of my friends who are professional screenwriters. I like to keep writing until it feels just right. Some scenes have been changed a little during shooting. In particular the group scenes, where we tried to do some more improvisation. I like to keep options open during shooting to enhance authenticity, to let the characters find what works best for them."

"When I write something, I usually listen to some music I find inspiring. In this case it were some early albums from the composer who also did the music for my film. His work tends to be very cinematic by nature and it gets me in a certain mood. During the writing process I already have a lot of images that come to mind, so I know pretty fast how I would like to depict certain scenes. There’s also a very cool platform for filmmakers called ‘Shotdeck’, which gives you an unlimited amount of movie stills. I like to create visual moodboards through this database to convey my vision for the film. These moodboards I’am constantly sharing with my DoP, so we’re on the same level from the very beginning. The shotlist was also created together and we talked about everything concerning the image. Composition and color, but also how we wanted to move the camera. It made production go smooth because we were always on the same page."

The importance of planning and vibing

"Since this was my graduation short, I had to plan very early to get everything done in time. It was a lot to handle, but I was able to surround myself with good people. My crew consisted in a nice mix of fellow students and some professionals. Luckily, I was also able to get exactly the cast I wanted. They were all excited about the story and gladly wanted to be part of it. I got their contact info from people that I know in the industry. The number of shooting days were decided by the first ad, and it seemed to be the right amount of time, especially since we were shooting in just one location. The movie was funded partly with my own money, and the rest was secured through a crowdfunding campaign. This was also a lot of work but definitely worth it."

"The production went fairly straightforward. Because we were so well prepared there wasn’t a lot we could not handle at any given situation. The diversity of my crew gave it a nice edge. They seemed to uplift each other and it was a nice opportunity for us as students to work with people who had a lot more experience. It made everyone alert and do their very best to create something nice. As a director, I think it’s very important to have a nice atmosphere on set. That everyone feels part of it as a whole. This approach makes people willing to go the extra mile for you."

Cut and recuts

"The first editor made a version that didn’t connect with me. I even panicked a bit, because I knew the movie was there but it did not show in the first cut. Apparently this is a very common thing after a first cut. But it was still a humbling experience. After talking to my editor we just did not seem on the same page, so we parted ways. As luck would have it, my DoP suggested to look at it together. We just dove in it ourselves, and she seemed to have a natural feeling for what I was looking for. So we just kept going until we felt we had the version we wanted. It was a very insightful experience. I think we made about five versions. We also got feedback from one of the best editors in Belgium, which didn’t hurt things either. He gave us very knowledgeable suggestions which we incorporated in the final cut. I’m very grateful for that. This whole way of working has made me very aware of the importance of a good cut, and to not count your losses too early. If you know the film is there, it’s just a matter of being persistent and keep trying things until you find it."

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