15th ÉCU Film Festival | 2020 
"But because this was my graduation film I learned so much. But the most important lesson I learned was, that working together as a team you can make anything possible."
Justin Bentvelsen
 Revolution 
European Experimental Film
justinbentvelsen.nl
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Screens occupy the majority of our daily lives, perhaps unconsciously. CGI is becoming more realistic and dominant every day. This increasingly blurs the boundary between reality and the alternative “reality” of the CGI world.

 

Hi Justin thank you for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?

Thank you for asking me. I am handling its quite okay. Living in a nice house with sweet roommates so it could be worse. I am however quite sad about how some people are handling this whole situation, the parks in Amsterdam are most of the times filled with people.

As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative inspiration?

Yes, these are strange times, where the survival instinct kicks in. Where toilet paper is being hoarded, and people put them selves first. I dislike seeing people doing this it ,but it gives me inspiration to write about the egoistic side of humans.

You're currently at doing your MA Animation st Joost Den Bosch, as an up and coming filmmaker how is this experience helping you develop your skills as a filmmaker?

As a director I really wanted to learn how animation works. For me as a filmmaker I consider it a strong medium in combination with my way of filmmaking. I see animation as a rapidly growing medium, to me it feels mandatory to explore it.

Revolution has been selected for the 15th ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?

I am proud that my film is being displayed at this recognised festival. And with that, proud to be part of the experimental competition.

You have had an amazing festival run with Revolution did you imagine you would get such a great response to your film?

No I didn’t expect this. I myself was happy with the end result, as it was my very first film and my graduation film for my bachelors. I didn't expect it to get this far. My love for filmmaking has grown through out the years. And I am very happy that people are enjoying the films I make.

What did it mean to you to to get nominated for Dutch Best Film at the Go Short Film Festival?

That also was very exciting news to hear, and I am happy they recognised me as a filmmaker as ECU did as well.

Has the attention you've gotten for Revolution add any additional stress/pressure on you as a filmmaker?

No not at all. I am just doing what I can do, and if people like it I am very happy and proud. But I will just keep on making new films and hopefully I will be at the ECU next year as well.

You've said "Can we still see the difference between CGI and real imagery?" since making Revolution how would you answer this question?

This is one of the concepts I wanted to tell with the film. I think we as human kind can’t see the difference anymore between ‘In-camera’ and ‘CGI’. This is something not to be afraid of, but to be noted about. With that I am always very excited when people are confused about Revolution, the fact that it is made without any CGI or AE.

Can you tell me a little bit about Revolution, how did this film come about?

My generation grew up with computers and television. As a kid I loved computer games and the internet. It was exciting, new and nobody completely understood how these pieces of metal could do all of this, only computer experts can understand this. As I got older the computer developed, and computer generated imagery got more and more advanced. The grip on this technology got more and more complicated for ‘the common people’. Until the point we as humans can’t see the difference anymore between a camera shot footage and CGI. When an artist tricked me into CGI being hyper realistic, I knew I had to make a film about that.

You made Revolution without using any CGI or AE, what inspired you to want to make a film in this way?

As I mentioned above I was inspired by being tricked into thinking I was looking at in-camera imagery when I was not.


The first time experiencing this was with the work KING (2016) by David Claerbout.


When I saw this I knew I needed to make a movie with this idea. The idea developed in my mind knowing if people can’t explain the image it has to be CGI.

So the way I wanted to do this was with miniatures and challenging myself into making people think they are looking at CGI when it is not. This was a hard challenge for me. Because I had to assemble some rules for myself in order to stay true to the concept.

How did you go about creating the miniatures you used in this film?

This was a complex search, I had to look in a different way to the world. As an example I wanted to make a sun rise with a big hand grabbing the sun, with strange looking clouds that should appear. But of course I couldn’t use After effects or Computer Generated Imagery.


I found out that a squash ball with the right angle and light can look like a sun rising. And white tempura paint with some water and a syringe can work as the ‘doomsday clouds’, that was what I was looking for.

Then the other big challenge was, because I didn't allow myself to use compositing, we all had to film it in an one-take. So it took us more then 20 takes to do it wright.

"As a director this is (almost) the most important part."

What was the most challenges aspect of making Revolution?

Working with a bunch of strict rules in order to make the concept not fail. But still make people think they look at computer generated imagery. Was really tough..

Looking back what would you say has been the biggest lesson you've taken from making this film?

I learn a lot every time I make a movie. But because this was my graduation film I learned so much. But the most important lesson I learned was, that working together as a team you can make anything possible. Every team member has to really like the concept and love the project, if not, you will notice it. As a director this is (almost) the most important part. Making people enthusiastic as well making them feel comfortable, as if being the mother/father of the group.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

No, it grew on me. As a kid I never really knew what I wanted to be. I still like different disciplines, science was a topic in high school that I loved as well. I think that is why I use chemicals to make my films.

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?

You really, really have to want to do this. Because big money is (almost) never made as a filmmaker. You have to work very hard for little money.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow emerging filmmakers about to make their first film?

Yes, listen to your own voice. If you believe the ‘impossible’ shot is doable go for it, show your teammates that it is possible. Because no one believed me that a squash ball can be believed as a sun-rise, but that didn't stop me. Believe in yourself, and if it doesn't work out you can only blame yourself.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a video-clip for an artist with some miniatures. Also I am now making my graduation film at the MA St Joost Animation, with lots of new experiments. And I am working together with a film company on writing a new funded film.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from revolution?

I hope they will walk out of the theaters with the question: “Am I still under control of my mind, can I see the difference between real or fake on a screen?”

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