What Do I Really Want To Do?

// One question. It seems easy enough, but a for quite a long time, I didn’t have a clue.

Around three years ago I just gave up on wanting to become a professional mountain biker and didn’t really have a passion that I believed could make a living. I liked my study (Communication Sciences at Utrecht University) but didn’t see doing reseach as something I would be happy doing for years on end. I looked around and saw many people doing something they didn’t love. They liked their job, but they didn’t love it. For them work still feels as something they have to do, not as a reason to get up in the morning. I knew I didn’t want to live a life like this. It sounds corny, but I really believe it’s possible to have a job you’ll never need a vacation from.

Fast forward to 2012 and I finally knew what I wanted to be. A filmmaker, or videographer as I then called it. Now, at the time I was still studying and doing two sidelines so it wasn’t too serious, I was really just experimenting and seeing if people even liked my work enough to pay for it in the first place…

Luckily this was the case and after a few years of working hard, finding my place in the industry and learning a lot, I feel like right now it’s finally starting to get somewhere. I really am having a job I don’t need a vacation from, partly because my job takes me to places that most people go to on holiday anyway, like Norway or Slovenia or Spain or any other amazing country. In the past three years I’ve learned more than I could imagine, both as a filmmaker and as an entrepreneur, and am now on a level where I feel comfortable calling myself a professional filmmaker because I know my work can back up that statement.

“Storytelling is the one thing that can distinguish your work from anyone else’s, because it’s truly unique.”

I’ve also learned what I really love about the filmmaking process: storytelling. The ability to translate someone’s vision or passion into something visible and audible that people can identify with is hugely satisfying. Storytelling is the one thing that can distinguish your work from anyone else’s, because it’s truly unique. It’s great to have access to expensive equipment and fancy cameras and all that, but if you can’t tell a good story and touch people’s hearts it’s all worthless. A film that has a great story and is shot on iPhones is ten times more powerful than a film shot with the latest €100.000 RED Dragon camera that is just shiny pictures and doesn’t have anything to identify with.

Now that may sound great: you don’t need crazy expensive gear to create an amazing film. But that doesn’t mean this makes it any easier. I think it’s safe to say storytelling is one of the hardest things to master in the filmmaking process. Yes, there are some general tips and tricks, but mainly it’s your own personal creativity, skillset and experience, and these don’t just exist in optima forma. They have to grow.

Since I found out how important storytelling really is I started to create my own independent films that specifially challenge my storytelling skills. The film about motorcycle builder Roy Holtman I released two months ago is a great example of this. There’s more films like this in the works, but more about that later. More recently I’m also doing commercial work that focuses more on storytelling, like this portrait series for Specialized Bicycles.

Short films that really have a story to tell, that show the viewer a message of passion, love, or happiness. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me happy and the kind of work I want to keep creating and get better at.

“It will be an awesome challenge to create a film that has people entertained, impressed, touched and on the edge of their seats for the better part of 90 minutes.”

And beyond that? Of course there are small goals, like filming in specific places or working with certain companies, but there’s one biggie that really stands out: I’d love to create a full feature action sports film that can equal high quality films like Life Cycles and Supervention (YouTube them if you don’t know what I’m talking about). It will be an enormous and awesome challenge to lead a team and create a film that has people entertained, impressed, touched and on the edge of their seats for the better part of 90 minutes. Realistically it will be a few more years before I’ll be able to pull this off I’m sure, but it’s definitely a nice goal to set for the future.

Never stop dreaming, never stop working.