In my third year at the Netherlands Film Academy, we had 5 weeks to research whatever interested us. I had long loved the book series “The Pillars of the Earth”, “A World without End” and “A Column of Fire” written by Ken Follett. It was actually part of the reason why I wanted to study architecture and engineering back when I was younger. Especially in the first book, the description of how three different builders (no such thing as an architect back then) imagined the cathedral of fictional Kingsbridge, struck me for its poetry and accuracy, without ever feeling like reading a history book. Afterwards, I fell in love with the tv series, based on the two first books, but the books were still my favorites.
As a Production Designer, it felt really interesting to study a building that is fictional but really accurately described in a book. I wanted to study other churches from around the same period and area to see what could have been. Since there were 3 different builders designing and changing this cathedral over a whole century, it seemed relevant to imagine what these designs would look like, what they would have in common and what would be different, following the storyline and the personalities of each character.
Here’s the power point presentation I made back then, explaining the different steps of my research, from the books to the proportions of the designs, through the research in real locations for historical accuracy (sorry it’s in Dutch) : ontwerpen-2-celeste-coupez.pdf
For this western graduation film, I wasn’t the production designer (Klaudia Schenkels) or art director (Henk Pol), but I helped where I could, doing research about that time (around 1850-1855) and helping setting up some sets (amongst which a house and a camp in the wilderness).
“The Underground” was my graduation film. It is a 15 min long, sort of sci-fi film taking place in tunnels under the city of Amsterdam. There, according to this story, lives a large community of misfits and outlaws since the 70s-80s. Amongst them, the Reinhardt family, composed of the strong mother, her three sons and one daughter. The youngest son, Napoleon, has a form of autism that separates him from his family. He sees patterns in everything, even in how people act. However, his family doesn’t realise what a fantastic tool he could be against their feuding clan, as they believe him to just be strange and simple-minded. That is until they bring Rosa into their circle to find the feuding clan after their latest robbery. Will she get Napoleon’s and his family’s trust ? And will they be able to get their revenge?
This film was quite the challenge to make. We filmed everything in a set that my team built in school’s big studio (as in 1 studio for 4 different locations). I started designing the look of this film around mid-September and we shot during 8 half-days at the beginning of December 2018. So everything had to go quite fast. I was both Production Designer and Art Director for this film, but luckily I had an amazing team to help me. Henk Pol was construction manager, Milou Wegbrans was costume designer and Annika Lelieveld was set dresser.
The Director was Max Everett, whose brother also has a form of autism (although quite different from that of Napoleon). He therefore understood the dynamics surrounding such a character. The Director of Photography was David Koster, with whom I had worked a few times already, so it was nice knowing what to expect of each other.
As a preview, here are some stills of the film, followed by pictures on set and moodboards. The full film is still in the post production fase and will premiere in July 2019 during the Keep an Eye Filmacademie Festival in the Eye Film Instituut in Amsterdam.
During my internship at 87seconds, I was lucky to be sent to Paris to interview a Flemish engineer architect (who coincidentally had also studied at the VUB) working for Besix. What was also super interesting was that she was the only woman on that site, and she lead a big group of men. We had a small team with a cameraman, a director, an assistant producer and me (who mostly interviewed her).
Again with 87seconds, we made a short advert for Noukie’s. It was a lot of fun for me because I got to place all those cute toys and stuffed animals in our studio. The video is unfortunately not yet available online, so here are only a few pictures from the set.
The Hogeschool Gent (HoGent) wanted a rebranding video and asked 87seconds to help. On this project, I was both set dresser when needed and production assistent. We shot throughout Ghent with the goal to show another side of Ghent and of its University. We used actual students, professors and employees of HoGent as actors and had them read out a poem from a local writer.
During the summer of 2018, I co-directed this aftermovie with Cato Kusters as a part of my internship at 87seconds. Couleur Café is an alternative, family-friendly, world-music festival taking place every summer in the parc next to the Atomium, this iconic Belgian monument. 87seconds had already made the previous aftermovie, so Couleur Café asked them again. In turn, 87seconds trusted me and Cato to direct three different camera teams throughout the festival (3 days long). We actually had to make one film for Friday, one for Saturday and one for the whole festival. It was an amazing experience, with tons of great artists and quite a bit of sun.
During my internship at 87seconds, one of the first projects I took part in was this vlog-like presentation video of one of Besix’s employees. This was the first of a series of videos, meant to show all the different kinds of works and people working for Besix. We shot it in Belgium, in the natural areas around Namur and at the HQ of Besix in Brussels. In this instance, I was location scout, production assistent and make-up artist. Besix was quite satisfied with the result, and therefore asked 87seconds to make the other videos as well, going to other countries as well (France, United Arab Emirates, …). Unfortunately I only got to make one more video before my internship ended.
In my third year at the Film Academy, I made an Avatar mask for myself as a part of an exercise for school. I got a mold of my face and then went on to sculpt the desired mask over it. Once the mask was made (out of rubber) I got to decorate it. I added a wig (with feathers and braids in it), eyes (made of halved and painted skippy ball) and eyelashes. Then I went on to get photographed in it wearing a necklace and body paint. I finally asked my friend Anouk Regensburg to add the background in Photoshop.