Emotional architecture in science-fiction films

Architecture, Artistic research, Graduation projects

For my bachelor thesis, I had the choice to present my research in any way I thought relevant. I picked the form of a short video, the kind which can be found on YouTube, to present it. It would therefore be spoken in English, the universal language of the internet, in order to reach out to as many people as possible.

As for my theme, it came naturally. Architecture has always been a part of my life, and I thought it was too bad people didn’t seem to realise how emotional it could be. In my opinion, architecture is a medium just as emotional as music, and should be used as such more often in films. So I showed examples of science-fiction films (one of my favourite genres) that did just that.

Romeo and Juliet Act 4 Scene 1

Artistic research, Graduation projects

The last project I did at the Netherlands Film Academy was this photograph. We had to make a picture inspired by a text (could be a song, a poem, a few lines from a novel or theatre piece, or even a newspaper clip). I chose a specific scene from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, in which Juliet, distraught after the exile of Romeo and her coming marriage to Paris, goes to Friar Laurence for help. She is ready to die, but he offers her hope in the form of a vial containing poison. The contrast of those strong emotions was what I wanted to show.

I took more inspiration in the Pre Raphaelites movement for the form. They had a way to show the emotions of the characters in their painting in a beautiful and tragic light, while rendering the textures and colors with immense precision, which I find mesmerising. The clothes and setting are obviously not historically accurate for the quattrocento (when Romeo and Juliet should take place). I did this the same way as the Pre Raphaelites, as they took loose inspiration from legends and stories, and put a story in a beautiful setting.

The beautiful set location in this case is the Apotheek Museum in Maaseik, which I highly recommend visiting. The actress playing Juliet is Louise Verdoot, a long-standing friend of mine, who’s also a talented graphic artist. And Friar Laurence was played by René Martin-Prevel. It was presented during the Keep An Eye Film Academy Festival 2019 in Amsterdam.


JULIET
Tell me not, friar, that thou hear’st of this,
Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it:
If, in thy wisdom, thou canst give no help,
Do thou but call my resolution wise,
And with this knife I’ll help it presently.
God join’d my heart and Romeo’s, thou our hands;
And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo seal’d,
Shall be the label to another deed,
Or my true heart with treacherous revolt
Turn to another, this shall slay them both:
Therefore, out of thy long-experienced time,
Give me some present counsel, or, behold,
‘Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife
Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that
Which the commission of thy years and art
Could to no issue of true honour bring.
Be not so long to speak; I long to die,
If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.

FRIAR LAURENCE
Hold, daughter: I do spy a kind of hope,
Which craves as desperate an execution.
As that is desperate which we would prevent.
If, rather than to marry County Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That copest with death himself to scape from it:
And, if thou darest, I’ll give thee remedy.

Designing the cathedral from “The Pillars of the Earth”

Artistic research, Portfolio

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

El Muerto

Graduation projects, Portfolio

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

Graduation projects, Portfolio

“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.

Here’s the stopmotion video of the building of the set


Stills


Set pictures


Moodboards

Avatar mask

Artistic research, Portfolio

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.

Van Binnenuit

Portfolio, Short films

In my third year at the Film Academy, I was the Production Designer for one film: “Van Binnenuit” (meaning From the Inside Out). It was an interesting experiment, as we tried to visualise angst as a concept. The result was not completely satisfactory but it allowed me to better get acquainted with the cameraman who would shoot my graduation film, David Koster. As this film is the propriety of the Netherlands Film Academy, I can only show these stills.

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Commercials, Portfolio

https://youtu.be/94VU-feLVtM

At the beginning of my third year at the Netherlands Film Academy, I made two tv commercials for the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leyden (Netherlands). Thanks to this great experience, I got to see how to creatively make people (between 15 and 26 year old was our target audience) want to go to a museum. We had an extremely limited budget and timing to make them so I’m quite proud of how they turned out. The first one eventually got chosen to represent the museum. The other one couldn’t due to lacking rights.