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My Pre Digital Movie Making

Dad became well known for his secret photography during World War 2 when Holland was occupied. It was a precarious time and taking photos out of doors was dangerous. One could easily get arrested if seen with a camera. Dad had a little daughter which for him was a source of inspiration. He soon became very creative and his black/white still lives won many an award also internationally. Dad encouraged me to take up photography when I was in my teens but the medium of `moving images` was more attractive to me.

When I was 20  dad bought me a cine camera for 8 mm film. That same year I joined a local cine group where I learned about the art.

I plucked up courage and entered a national film competition by a Dutch TV channel and I won a third prize plus an honorable mentioning for a second film.

These were my first films with added sound. Together with other club members I took part in the BENELUX FILM FESTIVAL in Ostend, Belgium winning 2 awards for best in my category.

My name was being noticed by important people.

The offer of being a camera woman on a 5 week travel film expedition to the exotic islands of Indonesia ( former Dutch East Indies ) I grabbed with both hands.  The fascinating islands of Java and Bali were the settings for a film about the culture and the daily lives of the people. This trip was an eye opener for me. The result was a film lasting 45 minutes and was meant for educational purposes.

I had become much more confident and after I had done some research I had found another interesting  subject to tackle, IRON ORE MINING. An opencast mine in Central Europe, Austria, could not be an easy option.  I did my research and I got in touch with the TECHNICAL COLLEGE in Delft. The Head of the Mining Department was most intrigued by a young lady wanting to take on such a big subject to film. This professor offered to do the communication with the Head of Engineering running the Mine in Styria. He  was also intrigued by my request and he gave his permission to film the excavation.

Together with a soundman and an assistant I travelled to the town of Eisenerz. We were given 14 days which was quite amazing as an Austrian TV Team were sent home after 2 days of filming. We received fantastic help from the people running the Mine and whatever was to be filmed had been arranged the previous day. The drilling, detonating and explosions made strong subjects. Inside the HEAVY LIQUID PLANT the noise was deafening. Here the ore was separated from the dross by colourful machinery which was kept spotlessly clean.

All this resulted in a 25 minute documentary shown in Eisenerz, in the lecture theatre of Delft College and lectures for groups interested in this subject.

The next thing for me was wanting to return to the same area to film part 2, the transport of the ore to the furnaces.

The same year my life was turned around as a young man from Oxford and a group of photographers came to my hometown of Leiden on a cultural exchange visit. This young man had done some film work but was mainly a still photographer.

We `clicked` and together we planned a documentary of the transport over the mountains and through tunnels

Powerful steam engines pulling and pushing the hopper wagons up inclines. The steepest sections were fitted with a cog rail. Then down the other side to the melting plant 10 miles away. We had permission to film inside the plant where the liquid ore came out of the furnace. A scorching hot and smelly process.

Back to the editing room in Leiden I put the `takes` in the right order and added the recorded sound track. This took about 8 weeks to complete.

From then on my life changed dramatically as I got married to the young man from Oxford and moved into a completely different life. I joined the OXFORD CINE GROUP where I showed the film and I got the advice to enter THE TEN BEST a worldwide competition for movie-makers which was based in London.

Over the next 3 months I received letters sent by the judging panel telling me that my film was still `in the running`. 

Law and behold our film had won a GOLD STAR AWARD, a runner up.

Me and my entourage were invited to the Award Ceremony in London`s National Film Theatre. The top prize winning films were shown on the cinema screen.  This was an unbelievable experience seeing the film on such a large scale.

The Hollywood actor JAMES STEWART happened to be in London and James agreed to present the trophies, the icing on the cake.

During the following few years video took the place of film material and after that it became digital. I might be nostalgic but for me the art of cinematography can`t be replaced by any other means. But progress can`t be stopped, there has be  progress ! What has happened to the IRON ORE MINE ? The Celts, during Roman times had discovered the deposits on this mountain about 2000 years ago. During the late 1970s it was decided that the Mine was no longer viable...…..

Equipment used for this project:

BOLEX PAILLARD 16 mm camera with a VARIO SWITAR zoom lens 70/120

KODACHROME 2 colour film material


PHILIPS reel to reel magnetic tape recorder

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