Rutger Hauer • Actor
by Boyd Van Hoeij
15/06/2009 - Celebrating 40 years of working in film overall, Dutch actor Rutger Hauer recently returned to the Netherlands to play a different role. Cineuropa spoke with him just before the kick-off of the third edition of the Rutger Hauer Filmfactory Master Class in Rotterdam on June 18, in which some thirty participants will be making 12 short films. But as things are developed each day there might be much more to see.
Cineuropa: What is the Filmfactory philosophy?
Rutger Hauer: It is about the teamwork of professional filmmakers, actors, producers, cinematographers, etcetera, who work together, with a focus on using intuition, instinct. The tight schedule applies high pressure. So they must “dance” without thinking much, and use the surprises. We want them to shoot from the gut. It is about doing it all, channelling the work through their sixth sense.
This is the third edition of the 10-day event. What has changed since the first edition?
The first time we were inventing what we were doing. The second edition, we used what we learnt, made it better. And the teams were more mature, stronger. For this third edition, we have already lined up exciting guest speakers, such as Paul Verhoeven and Robert Rodriguez, who will be in touch via Skype. Like most people, we struggled with financing and our challenge is to concentrate on getting done what is exciting. Because things go wrong and eat up time I am hoping for gaps to fall in the programme so we can turn to our YouTube wall, which carries this very enormous video memory tank, and we will screen filmmaking knowledge that is already out there; it is brilliant.
Besides concentrating on intuition and being creative with the imposed logistical challenges, the participants are encouraged to aim for believable storytelling. Why is this important?
The master class is a good exercise to see how close they can get to a form of "realism." It is a ten-day game. We give them materials, tools and actors to work with. They play with each other and we play with them. We throw a curve ball or two every day, and they must adapt. It all comes from practical experience combined with ideas of the Dogma movement. Believability is part of the execution, it is where it begins and ends.
What are they given at the start?
Anything can be a basic idea for a short film. We will give them screenplays if we like the ones we have. If we happen to have only one good script, we might decide to have everyone shoot the same one, which is something I have been interested in doing. We may also decide to give them a short story, an idea, a poem, a song. A great part of doing this is to see what they’ll do and what sort of struggles and mistakes they experience. We’ll make a party out of it anyway.
Lech Majewski, who is one of the master class teachers, also directed you in his film The Mill and the Cross. What is your working relationship with him?
Lech is editing the film now, and there are plans to release it in the Louvre in Paris. The film explores a Brueghel painting and it comes alive as Majewski crawls into it. I like the project, most of it was shot against a green screen. It poses questions such as what happened to art in filmmaking, why did it disappear? Commercials have started eating away at filmmaking, in a way we’ve sold our souls. Now, watching television is complete torture and making real movies just too expensive. Digital filmmaking, however fragile, is the future. And Lech makes the film he wants to make, for the audience that wants to see them.
The people attending will learn something during the master class. What do you hope to take away from the experience?
My mentors, guests and coaches will hand them a few sparks. I know some of these lights are forever. Nothing compares to teaching, passing on knowledge. We are spreading our knowledge. It is great food. And I am not talking Big Mac.