In the past few years a number of international and English oriented (ex)students, along with several of my filmbuddies, made a local TV-series that is right up my alley: it’s in English, it’s populated by character types and it is drenched in humor. Being what it is, it has international potential, which is why I’m blogging about it. What’s it called?
The television series “North” follows a group of international students in the city of Groningen as they struggle against the half Irish, half Scottish mob boss McSeamus, all the while trying to survive university, make friends, and experience all that student life has to offer. There’s laughter, there’s tears, there’s bad mustaches and Spanish lovers, there’s three-leaved clovers and two-faced liars. But most of all, there’s friendship and a shared international grudge against living in a city where no one can pronounce its name.
The story comes from mastermind and director Thomas Mook and was produced by Henriëtte Poelman against all odds – of which there were many. The main cast consists of members of Stranger Things Have Happened, an English-speaking comedy and theatre group that Thomas is also part of. Unfortunately he doesn’t feature in the series himself – I didn’t even spot a cameo – but I dare say you’ll find your favorites among that cast. Kudos go to Jeroen Meijer who took it upon himself to film the series. I don’t believe anyone I know could have done the job but him. Together with a dedicated cast an crew they came up with practical and exciting ways to capture the drama of the story as well as the scenery of Groningen in this, the most northern part of The Netherlands. Well … not quite the most northern part, but then, if there is one main theme in the series, it’s stereotypes.
Being a family man these days and starting my own business didn’t give me room to actively participate. Indeed, when the plan was proposed and filmmakers were sought to help out, it deemed it quite daunting for anyone involved: producing 6 episodes of 20 minute tv in two weeks time! With little to no budget! Admittedly, it took a bit longer. Come to think of it, we might have a production baby since my girl Zoe turns 2 next Friday 😉 In any case, I had to let it slide, leaving it all to the more time-endowed people.
As time went by, however, the moment arrived when I was able to chip in, when it was my turn to shine, I suppose. I am after all a Golden God (megalomanic quote alert). This moment was when things went – how shall I put it – awry: boom microphone in the shot, in fact, entire soundperson reflected in window! More booms! A dolly! Shadows of booms! … each and every one of them had to be made invisible. So now, after much ado about nothing, I’m known amongst cast and crew as a verb: ‘to frank a shot’ mainly means to fix something in a shot that wasn’t supposed to be there.
Eventually, as postproduction moved along, the time came for visible shots. This meant I didn’t have to erase but add elements. Elements that were actually wanted on the screen: bulletholes, fire, 24 clocks, and deadly action. Plot essential stuff, then. So all in all I did get to work on something that all the cast and crew must be very proud of. For my part, I’m proud of them. Sure, you can bitch and moan about some of the things that don’t quite work, but this is such a feat with a whopping €5000,- budget, such a joy to behold, such lovable or memorable characters, that I can fairly say I love the series and can’t wait for it to go to DVD or Blu Ray! Thanks for letting me play along, and I’m looking forward to watching the next project.
Oh, and maybe I’ll add a bit on VFX for the bonus features, maybe I won’t. I already spent part of an effects reel on it. My current ode to the series consists of the following GoAnimate version of an already wacked out scene. Boy, is it hard to get the diction remotely similar. But that’s the fun, really. The free GoAnimate version has the following options: pick a setting (one of two), pick two characters, and fill in 10 lines of dialogue.
I dare you to make more! Find the North clips and GoAnimate: http://strangerthings.nl/north/