NETHERLANDS' LEADING EDITORS
See NL profiles four top Dutch editors whose work both shapes and defines the films of leading Dutch and international auteurs.
Job ter Burg
The list of directors Job ter Burg has worked with over the past decade reads like a who's who of European arthouse and crossover cinema. He cut Paul Verhoeven's Academy Award-nominated Elle and is currently working with the renowned Dutch auteur on another French-language film, Benedetta. Ter Burg edited Alex van Warmerdam's last three films, including Borgman, which was nominated for a Palme d'Or at Cannes 2013, and has cut all the films of Martin Koolhoven, including the powerhouse Eurowestern Brimstone in 2016. Recently he worked with renowned Dutch actor Halina Reijn on Instinct, her directorial debut.
"I find that the more experienced the directors are, the more they know their vision and their material, but that they are very open to whatever their collaborators, be it their DOP or their editor or actors bring to the table," Ter Burg underlines. "They know immediately whether something is right but are very open to considering whether they themselves may be wrong. But it is only because they are so sure that they are ready to be unsure and explore what maybe they hadn't thought of in advance. [The process] doesn't throw them out of balance."
Ask him how he defines his style and he puts his hands in the air. "To be honest I don't know and I don't want to know. I think there is a risk if you're doing any kind of creative work that if you start defining what defines you, then you are no longer able to do whatever creatively you feel should be done."
Mieneke Kramer is relatively new to the industry but already has four international features under her belt, the most prominent being Sam de Jong's Prince, selected for Berlinale Generation 2015 where it garnered a Special Jury Mention. She is currently in Bali editing Jim Taihuttu's The East, about Dutch colonial involvement in Indonesia.
"I still think with my little experience as an editor I have the luxury of being able to apply new approaches to new projects. I don't have a trick yet, a way of working, I am inventing it over and over," comments Kramer, adding, "I hate being on set. I don't like large groups of people, I like one-on-one contact and I like to crawl inside the character, the personality of the film, and into the head of the director and try to figure what is their vision and how to translate that as best as I can."
Kramer tells of her experience on Ja teraz klamie, directed by Pawel Borowski, shot 100% in Polish. "He wanted the film to be universal and cut by somebody who didn't know the language, so I had to cut it and still judge the acting, the credibility and the tempo of the story - that was kind of special. If you have a little feeling for language and intonation then it is not that difficult. I got to understand a little bit how the Poles used their language despite being unable to understand it."
Dorith Vinken, likewise, prefers the intimate atmosphere of the cutting room to the organised chaos of the set. "I like it more on the sidelines, that is my character. Ok, when you are making a big film you are never on the sidelines, but in the editing room you are able to write the film again."
Vinken is most closely associated with auteur Mijke de Jong with whom she worked on the likes of God Only Knows (2019, IFFR Limelight), Layla M (2016, Dutch submission for Foreign-language Academy Award) and Brozer (2014). "At this point in our professional relationship we don't have to talk so much anymore, we really feel the same about things," she says, but is nevertheless wary of complacency. "The most important thing is to really challenge each other to get to another level, and not take the easy way."
She speaks of their work on the fiction/documentary Brozer, during which actress (and friend) Leonoor Pauw died. "We had to finish the film after she was dead, for the family and the other people involved, but also for ourselves. At one point we cancelled everything to work on Brozer until it was finished. ... We said we would never do something like this again, but we also said it was maybe the most impressive thing we have ever done."
Currently editing two feature docs and slated to cut Isabel Lamberti's El Azul for IJswater Films later this year, Vinken offers sage advice to new directors and editors. "Even if you have been working on an edit for 3 months, never forget the impression you had the first time you saw it."
Peter Alderliesten started out as a physics student but became so active in (and good at) amateur filmmaking at university that he was invited to cut professional films on the side. When he eventually attended film school he also found that editing suited more his character and strengths.
"I thought that the energy I put into the production while editing was much more creative than being on a set with 30 or 40 other people doing their parts. I am much better at putting stuff together and seeing a one-on-one result of what I do. I am not very good at making stuff from nothing, but I am very good at making something from the pile of creative processes. I make strong choices to drive the story-telling, and my choices reflect my character in that."
He adds: "Whenever I get the material I see it all and have my opinions about what will work and in what order, and how we can grab the audience and push them in a certain direction. We as editors are in the place to make those choices, and that choice is 24 frames per second when we choose what the next frame will be. That might be [by using] a different take or angle or sentence, or we may apply stuff out of context."
Alderliesten cut Vincent Bal's Dutch kids classic Miss Minoes and has enjoyed a close working relationship with Joram Lürsen for whom he edited, among others, Love is All (2007) and The Resistance Banker (2018, Dutch submission for Foreign-language Academy Award). In June 2019 he will commence editing on Lürsen's eagerly-awaited hi-spec Flying Dutchmen TV series, about the aviation pioneers of early 20th Century Holland. NC
SEE NL Magazine #35 May 2019 / Cannes - Annecy Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by Eye International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.