Guusje America elaborates on the working process of her documentary Meisjes.
“These are exactly the moments which make filmmaking so exciting and rewarding.”
Interview: first part
How did the idea come to you?
“Most of the time my subjects come to me by surprise. This was also the case with this film. My younger niece got pregnant and naturally I felt the urge to film this process together with her.”
How did you work on the script?
“There was no script. I have never worked from a script and prefer to place myself in an environment and let the situation guide me through the filming proces. I react in the moment and let intuition guide me.”
How did you structure your shooting and collaboration with other people?
“Because the film didn’t derive from a script I also didn’t need to go through the same processes of writing. Also, because it was my first short documentary, I made the film all by myself and didn’t have a team or crew to share thoughts and tasks with. Also there was no producer involved, only a sound designer who helped and taught me a great deal about sound- and post-production. To explain it in a simple way is that I mentally edit while filming. I take my camera and go through the situation as it comes to me. I make decisions based on things happened before and how I want to remember these moments and see them reappear in the film.”
How did you plan the production?
“It was a intimate and personal bond between me and my niece to we just planned whenever we had time.”
Interview: second part
How did you prepare for the shooting days?
“There was no specific time of shooting days planned. We together followed our intuition in when and how much we wanted to film. The one thing that was set was that we would be filming 9 months and off course the day of the birth was incredibly important. Even this moment was not something we could plan. But when the moment came I was already with her for a week so we were as much prepared as was possible.”
How was the editing process?
“I personally did all the editing. It was one of the most challenging parts of creating the film. I never had classes in montage or the editing programs. So I basically followed my instinct and trusted that would eventually bring a good end result. Color-correction I also did myself, but I would like to learn more in the future.”
Did you have a composer?
“This was a very, very interesting experience for me. I knew nothing of sound, sound-recording and post-production with sound. In this time, I was studying at an art school and through the school I got a collaboration with a sound-designer, Bart Jilesen. He taught me many things about the importance of sound. And I am very grateful for that experience.”
We understood this is your first official festival-screening?
“Yes, so I am very excited (with some healthy nerves). I screened the film at my Graduation Show in Utrecht. This was a very pleasant first screening moment where I had to ability to create my own small screening space where I could make people sit on a soft carpet and placed the screen on the floor for an even more intimate setting. So it will be completely different.”
Do you have any tips for directors?
“Don’t overthink. If you want to make a film, just start. It doesn’t matter with what camera. And don’t think too much of what other people will think of your work. If there is one thing I learned is that there will be many moments where you discover there is so much about film that you still don’t know. Don’t see these moments as negative moments. These are exactly the moments which make filmmaking so exciting and rewarding.”