Julie SE Janssen is a 24-year-old student who will soon graduate from the Netherlands Film Academy (NFA) in Production, talks about her experience as one of the producers of Pure Lucht (in English, “Pure Air”). The movie, co-produced with Thijme Grol, Bettie Warnier, is about to premiere at the “Keep an Eye Filmacademie Festival 2018”. The graduation project of the academy’s last year students, Pure Lucht – written by Caspar Smeets and directed by Casper Buijtendijk – combines humour and drama into a plot that, in only 23 minutes, genuinely touches the audience while capturing it with its message.
Enjoying the sun and a cup of cappuccino on a Wednesday afternoon, Julie shared with Medium Magazine the beginnings of her passion for cinema: “In 2000, I spent a year in California. My English had improved a lot, so when I came back to the Netherlands I decided to attend an international school. This school had a course in Film Studies. That was the very first moment I got in touch with all the knowledge that lies behind the world of film-making. After completing High School, I applied for the pre-producer year at the NFA. Those months were a full-immersion experience on the set of different movies. Moreover, they granted me the preparation necessary for the start of my full-time degree. As production assistant, I learned so much. It was not just about movies and how to make them, I also learned a lot about myself and people who surrounded me. Now that I am almost done with my bachelor’s in Production it seems like time is flying by, but I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Pure Lucht: when the reality you believe in dissolves in the air
Pure Lucht, defined by Julie as a “small rollercoaster”, is the story of Bas, an ordinary 25-year-old that finds out that everybody is a balloon. Developed during the past summer, the film was then written between September and November of this year. With 30 people taking part in its realization, Pure Lucht was shot between Amsterdam and Wassenaar, in 9 days of intense work: on June 6, the final project was delivered to distribution, and is now awaiting reviews.
“The movie opens with Bas lying in bed with his girlfriend Sarah. For the first time, he tells her that he is in love with her, and she says it back. The couple is kissing, when Bas hears a strange squeaky sound. They have sex, but it feels like balloons rubbing all over each other. The girl falls asleep, and Bas notices that her breath sounds like air inflating a balloon. Bas freaks out, and, as she wakes up, he pops the girl. Upset, Bas comes home and pops his parents, who happen to be balloons as well. At this point, he is hopeless, running in the street and popping anybody he bumps into with a wine opener. Eventually, he stabs in the neck the last real living man, Jacques (50), who indeed does not pop. The remaining part of the plot tells Bas’ extreme struggle to make a connection with a disillusioned and distrusting Jacques between accidents and suggestive dialogues.”
The imperceptible border between reality and fiction
Giving in to the fast rhythm of the first scenes, Pure Lucht slows down to enable reflection upon values such as friendship and loneliness. Portraying a society characterised by a deeply-rooted sense of insecurity, the movie symbolically criticizes a world of false appearances and mediated truths: “All of the sudden, Nick realizes that he is alone. Today, just like this character, a lot of people are alone, sometimes without even noticing it. In a media-driven society, it’s way too easy to get lost and not to be able to discern what’s real and what’s fake.”
We are not used to showing who we really are anymore, and that’s what makes us so vulnerable.
“I still struggle with that every day, when I check my Instagram feed that seems to seek for perfection. It’s hard to make a meaningful connection with someone in 2018. We meet so many people every day, yet we don’t even dare say hello to each other. We are not used to showing who we really are anymore, and that’s what makes us so vulnerable. Everybody posts amazing stuff, but it’s fundamental to know that it is never actually as it seems. Looking at those pictures makes me feel like if I am not enough. It takes a lot of time and energy to gain confidence in yourself and, as you get older, it gets better; but I must admit that I am still not there. It’s tough, especially with the pressure society puts on us by forcing people to be on top of their game.”
An open ending
Curious to see how people will receive the movie at its premiere, Julie is already looking ahead in search of new challenges that may bring her back to California. Being determined to find her way into the film industry, she takes any obstacle as a chance to foster her abilities. “Somehow it appeals to me knowing that there will always be something better, something you still have to learn. I believe there’s no limit set to thinking, above all when you are doing something you like to do. […] I know that if I didn’t challenge myself I would get bored, and that’s why aiming high has become my daily motivation: the fact that I have taken the risk and tried to achieve what I want to get makes me think that it will be fine, even if it doesn’t work out. Quoting Stanley Kubrick, everything has already been done. Every story has been told, every scene has been shot. It’s our job to do it one better; that’s precisely why I consider fundamental to believe in my projects, falling in love each time with the movie I am going to work for.”
You can see the movie at the Keep an Eye Film Festival in the Eye Filmmuseum in the week of 27 till 30th of June. If you are interested in the trailer, you can see it here: https://vimeo.com/275388866
Cover: Thomas Korver / Final editing: Kyle Hassing