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Interview with Philip de Iongh

Filmmaking for Change

Fonds Gehandicaptensport: We are not disabled. We are being disabled.

Published on 07-06-2022

We asked Director Philip and Producer Caro to tell us about their experience shooting this film for Fonds Gehandicaptensport (Disabled Sports Charity). Storytelling through film can inform and inspire audiences to get involved in the issues our world now faces. This film hopes to raise awareness about fairness in sport. When the starting gun goes off, everyone should have an equal chance of winning. But it is never a fair start for athletes with a disability. The costs for sports aids are, for example, significantly higher and there are far fewer sports options and facilities for people with disabilities in the Netherlands. The 1.7 million people in this country with a disability are confronted with social barriers before they have even taken up a sporting challenge. Complex rules regarding financial compensation mean that playing sports or exercising becomes nearly impossible.

Q+ A with Director Philip de Iongh:

Does it feel different when you are directing for a charitable cause and how does the process differ from a commercial shoot?

Yes it does feel different. First of all because the client in this case is a more sensitive and personal client. And we were shooting with a cast of real people (not actors) with real lives and struggles. So the connection with them and the brilliant people that started the charity feels a lot stronger and more important in a sense. I learnt that it is a bureaucratic issue which prevents someone with a disability from playing sports, not the physical disability itself. I think we succeeded in laying the perfect balance between sharing this message and giving these people the stage that they deserve so much.

A difference with a commercial shoot is that the client is able to give me and the agency more creative freedom, which is something I appreciated a lot. Being able to create something with the full trust of the agency and client behind it. Which really was the case on this project.

Storytelling through film can be really powerful medium, why do you think that is?

I think this is because, as a film director, you can steer the viewer in a direction without filling in all the emotional blanks. Every viewer will have a slightly different take from a film. If the message and the images are equally strong then the emotional impact can be enormous: which is how we can effect a change in people’s minds. If a film looks good but doesn’t have a message, or the other way around. It often doesn’t quite hit home, in my opinion.

A well-made and impactful film can hopefully help charities achieve key goals for marketing or fundraising. Do you find the stakes are higher when creating a film for a charity like Fonds Gehandicaptensport?

In a sense yes because they don’t get the large amount of airtime on the big channels like regular commercial companies with big budgets. Also, because the production budgets are often quite low, the films sometimes miss out on impactful (visual) power in my opinion. A smack in the face that really makes you wonder… hopefully we can start giving charities like this one the attention and awareness they need and eventually the much needed money as a result.

There is quite a bit of post production in this film. How was this process?

Well, big props to the people from the Ambassadors studio. They did an amazing job with a large amount of people working on this one. For instance the golden wheelchair is a 3D composit. I was really worried when they told me we would make it in 3D but it totally exceeded my expectations! And all the flying papers that weren’t shot in camera were made in CG as well, which with an unsharp background at night is a very time consuming process to add I can tell you. I loved going through this process and let my visual OCD get its way hahaha.

What was your highlight from this shoot?

The connection with the cast: the real fighters, and shining a light on the battles that they face was the highlight for sure. I learned so much from them that I didn’t know before. Seeing their faces when they saw the film for the first time was really special I must say. In their day to day lives they are often the center of attention and many times not in the form they would like. So standing up for this cause and working with us in this film and showing themselves on film is a compliment on its own. And most of all, showing their strengths and not their perceived weaknesses.

Q+ A with Producer Caro Eversdijk:

Does producing feel different when it is for a charitable cause?

Yes I think so. It feels good to be able to contribute to a good cause with Czar. We think it is important to do this at least once a year. A nice side effect is that director Philip has a bit more creative freedom with a project like this because the client and the agency in this case are very grateful for all the work that everyone wants to put into it free of charge and is also very open to creative ideas and suggestions.

Why do you think nearly everyone you asked to join this project said yes?

With a charitable project, we prefer to involve/ask the people who we work with most and who also do largely paid jobs with. So, I think everyone likes to do it for CZAR. And besides, I think everyone likes to contribute towards a special project like this. Especially if we can deliver a final product together that everyone is proud of.

Why do you think the film medium is so beneficial for a charity like Fonds Gehandicapten?

We are sharing a really important message with this film, and the medium of film simply has a lot of impact. The combination of image, sound design, music, VO and titles ensures a maximum effect on your emotions. We were lucky that we were allowed to make this film with incredible talents from every field.

What was the most special moment of this shoot?

There is not a specific moment for me, rather it was the amazing atmosphere that we created during the two-day shoot. Of course, we had a very ambitious shooting schedule which we had to achieve with minimal financial resources. All the crew, equipment companies, locations and of course our cast gave their everything to make it work. And that makes me very proud and happy. The planning on the shoot days was really tough and we had to work hard to get our shots. It was also really important to Philip that despite the killer pace and the bar being set very high, everyone would still have an enjoyable 2 days. Especially since the main cast are not actors. A pleasant atmosphere is therefore so important. I think we definitely succeeded in that…