CINÉFONDATION | 2019
Flo Van Deuren: "The further you get into production, the more you have to adapt your initial idea and have to let go of the fact to you can never go back to it."
BAMBOE | Debut Film | BELGIUM 19'
Bamboo plants only bloom once, but always simultaneously. The same thing happens to a bunch of thirteen-year-old girls when a mysterious man sets foot on their territory. One by one the girls have to let go of their carefree summer.
Hi Flo, thanks for talking to TNC, what does it mean to be at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival with Bamboe?
Hi. Thanks for talking to me too. To be at Cannes Film Festival with my graduation film, to me, is the biggest reward I, we, the crew, the cast, could get for all the effort we put into this project. This 19 minutes short film took me two years, meaning I had a lot of time to ask myself ‘what the hell am I doing?’ And of course, a festival selection can never be the reason why you’re making a film or the goal, but besides a reward, it’s definitely a motivation to carry on and make more films. If the ‘what the hell am I doing-question’ then pops up again —and it will— I hope this Cannes experience will stick with me as a reminder that whatever the hell I am doing, it might end up alright.
Bamboe is part of the Cinéfondation, does this add any extra pressure on you?
Yes. No. I mean yes, but I think it is the exact amount of pressure I can use. It means there are people out there believing in me as a young maker. As part of the Cinéfondation, I’ll be surrounded by other film students, also being at Cannes for the first time, which feels comfortable. (Unlike the shoes I’ll probably have to wear.)
Will you get any nerves ahead of the festival or are you just taking it all in your stride?
I was taking it all in my stride until I forgot to make train reservations and up until one hour ago, when my computer crashed, but both are fixed now, so I can go back to talking it step by step. The film is finished, I guess all I can do now is roll along and try to enjoy everything that follows. I’m bringing a best friend/fellow filmmaker and my girlfriend with me to Cannes, so they’ll make sure that happens.
What goes through your mind when your screening at a festival?
“What are these people see when they’re watching Bamboe?” I myself have watched it so many times now and I still don’t know what exactly it is I made. I keep seeing the construction, the effort and everything I’d do differently If had to do it over. It’s frustrating, but also a fun kind of mysterious that I’ll never be able to see my film as an audience does.
Can you tell me a little bit about Bamboe, how did this film come about?
It started with contact improvisation, a form of dance. I took the main idea of this dance —someones presence or touch having a physical effect on someone else— and made it into a story element. To this contagious movement I added the idea of puberty also being contagious (I think it really is: even when you’re not ready for it, you roll along with your friends) and from there, I got to idea of a bamboo setting, because when bamboo plants bloom (only once in their life), all nearby plants go along.
"...I decided on film studies, because it was something I had never done before."
What was the inspiration behind this film?
My own teenage days and how, by getting older, I realized there was beauty in how cruel these days could feel back then.
What was the most challenging part of bringing Bamboe to life?
First of all, the production. As a student, I had to organise almost everything myself and it was sometimes hard to guard the creative part while doing that. This creative part, translating a story I completely made up in my head into something visual, something touchable I’d even say, was definitely the biggest challenge. The further you get into production, the more you have to adapt your initial idea and have to let go of the fact to you can never go back to it. Finding actors, costumes, locations, lenses, … it all has an influence on what your “translation” is going to look like. Because ‘Bamboe’ was my first film, trusting this kind of snowball effect was not always easy.
What was the most valuable lesson you've taken from making this film?
Trust the snowball effect.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
No, not at all. After six years of Latin and mathematics in high school, I decided on film studies, because it was something I had never done before. I had always been interested in photography, illustration, dance and literature. I figured all these thing sort of came together in film and I’m glad I did.
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
“Don’t gather too much advice, they could be opinions that are not yours.”
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
You’ve got this.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Bamboe?
I hope that for 19 minutes, they may be reminded of their teenage days and that even if these days back then felt cruel, they may now feel nostalgic about them.