Your new movie Deadly
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. - in a few words, what is it about?
Time has caught
up already. Deadly
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. was released in 2014.
Since Iíve been very lucky and made another UK film Love is Thicker Than Water
which will be released in the USA later this year.
is flat out a genre film, but one with a great dramatic twist. A
mysterious man takes a couple hostage during the weekend. Then he
discovers the husband is an absolute awful guy and he enables the wife
to take revenge.
did you get involved with the project in the first place, and to what
extent could you identify with the movie's theme?
was rather bizarre. I had just finished a film in Holland, The
an expensive picture (almost Ä5m), and the first film I made in my home
country in over 20 years. Iíve never received worse reviews in my
life. The film did commercially well, but the critics and most intellectuals hated
it vehemently. The best thing to do is to immediately make a new film. A
few weeks after the release of The Bombardment I was in London
and called my friend Elliot Grove to complain. At the end he mentioned
he had this script, did I want to read it? I called him back the next
morning and told Elliot he could get top directors like Cronenberg for
this movie. But Elliot was afraid it would take years to get it done.
Was I interested to make it super low budget? Three months later we were
The theme of the
movie for me had a lot to do with betrayal, emotional betrayal. That
wasnít necessarily the theme from the outset, but it was what was
happening in my life, on a personal level and also professionally (the
critics in my opinion deeply betrayed me and were grossly unfair ó
but hey what else is new).
can you tell us about Deadly
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey.'s writer Mark Rogers, and what was your
is an extremely talented writer. If anyone likes the movie it is first and
foremost thanks to his script. Mark is also autistic (plus an entire arrangement
of other mishaps), it doesnít make communication easy. I have met Mark
once. I donít think he said much more than a few sentences, his mother
did all the talking. We communicated per e-mail and that was great.
Without a doubt it has been the most unusual collaboration Iíve had with
a writer, but certainly a very stimulating one.
Of the three main characters of
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey., who could you actually identify with
the most and least ... and why of course?
tough question. I personally identify most with the woman Allison
because she changes, awakens in a way, matures. Her husband is stuck in
his own attitude, and the intruder is a bit too self-assured for my taste.
But my preference is not really that important. Any spectator can have
his/her own choice for a variety of reasons. And all are valid. As a
director you donít own the characters.
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. isn't a film that exactly shies away
from violence, sexual and otherwise - so do talk about the brutal bits in
your movie for a bit, and was there ever a line you refused to cross?
It must be my
morbid mind but I donít think Deadly
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. is that violent at all.
Perhaps the suggestion is violent because on screen you really donít
see that much. Itís all suggestion. I suppose (actually I hope) the
characters are real enough for viewers to believe them and therefore it
becomes more brutal. If the same scenes were made in animation people
would probably laugh and not be scared at all.
donít think you can cross a line. Which is not the same as showing
everything. If you just show violence to offend or to insult I probably
wouldnít be the right director.
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. takes place primarily in one location -
so do talk about that location for a bit, and what was it like filming
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. is a super low budget film shot in 15 days. Something like that is
only possible if you waste no time. Going from one location to another is
very time consuming. We rented a house for a month, which had the enormous
advantage we could also rehearse in the actual location. It was not a very
convenient location because rooms were small. On the other hand because
everything was just a few steps away we could be very flexible in our
shooting order and stick to script order as much as possible.
What can you tell us about your overall
directorial approach to your story at hand?
I always take the characters as a starting point. The character doesnít
have to be likeable, but in essence has to be real ó even if it's a
grotesque comedy or an unrealistic genre film. Then the other important
factor is that it has to be cinema as opposed to TV (most feature films
are glorified TV). In cinema the camera tells the story and above all the
camera tells the point of view of the director and that is quite something
else as just the narrative. In TV the camera just registers the action but
doesnít add any value beyond that.
about Deadly Virtues:
Love.Honour.Obey.'s cast, and why exactly these people?
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. thrived on spontaneity. We didnít have the option to
go through a long casting process. Because we started a crowdfunding
Megan Maczko (she plays the female lead Alison) contacted me.
She ó very wisely ó never asked if she could play the part but
talked about the story. But after several conversations I suggested we
should meet, and we did. After we cast her, she came with ideas for other
actors. Itís not such a bad approach, if you trust someone it
is not a stretch that they will know other people with similar qualities.
It all comes down to trusting your instincts and your experience. So
basically the actors cast each other ó and they were familiar
with each other.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
when you have such a short shoot you canít afford to have a bad time.
That sounds a bit nerdy but really it is true. If you have a huge budget
you can afford to be an asshole, because you can buy quality. If you have
a tiny budget you have to depend on the generosity of the cast and crew.
We had a marvellous time ó admittedly I was the most
impatient on the set, I always think it takes too long and if the camera
wobbles for half a second I see no reason to do it again. But in the end I
think (hope) crew and cast understood that all my actions were always
aimed at getting the best for the film ó not in details but
you can tell us about critical and audience reception of Deadly
of self protection I donít read reviews (not since my 2nd film when I
was 24) - I donít read the bad ones nor the good ones. The
screenings at festivals I attended went quite well. It was encouraging
that many people saw the film as a genre film with a great deeper layer.
It became a feminist movie (in as far as that is possible when a man
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey., Iíve made Love is Thicker Than Water starring Johnny Flynn
(he now plays young Einstein in Genius), Lydia Wilson (Star Trek Beyond),
Ellie Kendrick (Games of Thrones), Juliet Stevenson and Henry
Goodman. A very personal story about two families coming from different
sides of the tracks. It will be released in the USA later this year and in
several other countries.
What got you into filmmaking in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I had no knowledge of film at all, had only seen one film when I was 17 and
was admitted to the film academy in Amsterdam. I knew nothing,
was laughed at by my fellow students who saw me as a provincial idiot. The
one thing I had though ó and they didnít ó I had anger, and
motivation to express myself. And luckily I never had any fear of failure.
made movies in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and the USA (and maybe a
few other places I don't know about even) - so how does filming in all
these respective countries compare?
essence no matter where you film there isnít much difference, the
quality of the crews are the same and the actors also. However, a bigger
industry like the USA or UK offer more options, as a director or producer
you have more choices and that diminishes negative surprises. If you have
a bigger budget you can correct mistakes, with a low budget ó in film-poor countries ó
you have to live with what you can get. So all in all whatís the best
place? It depends on the story. Deadly
Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. could have been made in
France or Italy or Spain or Holland or the UK. Drop Dead Fred could only
have been made in the USA.
Since quite a few of
my readers are fans of the 1980s, you just have to talk about your work on
for a bit, and how did you get the job even?
I was 33 I moved to Hollywood with two suitcases. One filled with (bad)
clothes, one filled with VHS tapes of my Dutch movies. I gave the tapes to
everyone who looked important, went to all the parties, and got
an agent. After
about a year ó you have to have long breath if you want to break
into Hollywood ó my agent gave a tape to the Miami Vice
producer. The tape
wasnít re-wound by the previous producer and it had been stopped at the
only action scene in that (Dutch) movie. It was very stylish. The Miami Vice
producer saw two minutes, enough to get me in for an interview. If the
tape had stopped anywhere else, I would never have had that interview.
During the interview he asked ĎWhat kind of films do you wanna
make?í I answered ĎItís easier to tell which I shouldnít
make, I should not do musicals, because I donít like music.í And then
I wanted to exclude science fiction also but before I said it, the
producer shouted to his secretary ĎWhatís the new show about?í ĎAliens'
she shouted back. ĎAliens, do you like it?Ē he asked me. ďI
love ití, I said. Thatís how I got in. I never understood the episode Missing Hours
with guest stars James Brown and Chris Rock myself but it was a tremendous
quite popular movie of yours was Drop Dead Fred - so do talk about
Dead Fred fell in my lap thanks to the writers who had met me at a dinner
party (and I had given them a tape of one of my films). When we made it we
really had no idea it would become such a classic after all these years.
But I always felt there was a deeper layer to the film which would be
recognised in time. And indeed that happened. To me, Drop Dead Fred is
about severe child abuse, disguised as a comedy.
Any other past films of yours you'd like to
films are like your children, you love them all though at times you favour
one above the other ó that changes all the time. I adore Fogbound
(with Luke Perry and Ben Daniels) but rarely anyone has seen it. An easy
one to mention is Highway to Hell (has Ben Stiller in a few cameos
before he was famous), Brian Helgeland wrote it. He later got an Oscar for
LA Confidential. I wanted to take my name off the movie after the
financier re-edited it, I thought the film was ruined. And now itís a
cult film. Shows you a director should never judge his/her own film. I was
right with Drop Dead Fred and wrong with Highway to Hell, it could just as
well have been the other way around.
How would you describe yourself as a
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Oh man, that is
hard. Vanity comes into play and sincerity. I think Iím a driven
person, but not motivated at all. Perfection is nonsense, compromise is
the game. The best director is the director who can make the best
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Ernst Lubitsch, Pasolini. But then also so many others, watching film is
so much more fun than making them.
one I wonít answer because we now live in a society where everything has
to be the best, the biggest, the greatest, the lowest, the dirtiest, the
most beautiful, the kindest, the meanest. We live in a vertical society
where only the top is important. I want to live in a horizontal society
where many things ó regardless of comparison ó can exist equally
next to each other.
... and of course, films you really
above applies to this question also. But I dislike feature films that are
really glorified TV movies.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
My website (not very updated) is
I have Facebook but donít really do a lot with it. I wish I would find a
smart fan who would bring and keep me in the digital era. Iím hopeless
and that is very very bad.
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
readers donít take film too seriously, nothing really matters, but
because nothing really matters anyway you can just as well enjoy films.
Hope you like my answers.
Thanks for the interview!