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Filminute @ Filmmaker: David Stevens’ M22

Throughout the month of September, Filmmaker is partnering with the online short film competition Filminute, hosting five of its nominated titles and running interviews with the director’s of these one-minute movies.

Tell us who you are (where you’re from, background, previous credits as a filmmaker)
My name is David Stevens and I live in Breda in the Netherlands. I currently study film at art academy AKV|St.Joost and prior to that I studied photography at Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam. I am now the owner of my own photography and film production company davidstevens.nl. In my work, I strive to bring a world to the surface where the flow of time is absent and where the viewer gets drawn into an emotional story which he of she experiences in another level due to his or her personal history. I am still relatively new in film but what I enjoy is that film and photography are becoming closer related than ever before. Due to technological developments you can produce a movie with a minimum of equipment without worrying about the existing light fading. For example, the first imagined shot of M22, where you see me standing in the snow between those huge trees, was shot at midnight. I can remember stories of Kubricks especially built f/0.7 lens for the low lit candle light scenes in Barry Lyndon. It is a blessing that proper equipment is getting more broadly spread so everyone can focus on storytelling with their fantastic images.

Describe your film in 100 words or less (plot, style, influences)
This film is a portrait about my stuttering, the dread for producing sound and my struggle concerning that. M22 started with the desire to visualize in a clear and concise manner the inner world of a stutterer. I’m the stutterer in the film. I made the film as part of my art study at AKV|St.Joost Academy. The task was to create a short film about a “physical problem” people may have. My work is influenced by work from people as Trent Parke and Martin Kollar, but also people like Tim Hetherington, who recently died in Libya but was one of the people who reinvented photojournalism with his film Restrepo. A lot of my inspiration also comes from music, bands like M83 refer to that same inner dreamy state of mind what I like so much.

What were the biggest challenges of making a one-minute film?
During the making of the film, a real call was made to a T-Mobile call center. The help-desk person required all her patience as she did not get an instant response on her question as I was in a stutter when I tried to answer her. You hear her spontaneous “hello….. hello” in the film. This was very important. It had to be a real situation where the conversation took place because many of the things I tried afterwards felt faked. After this, huge steps were made in the edit. Without the editing of Rob Willemsen this film wouldn’t be as is it now; he helped me to get the essence of the inner experience clear so it would work in the film. Thomas Gebben also played a very important role with his sound design; his work took the whole video to a more intense level.

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