John Appel over ‘Zij gelooft in mij’

NB: John Appel hield de masterclass in het Engels, vandaar de mix van Engels en Nederlands in dit verslag.

Openingscène ‘Zij gelooft in mij’

In de eerste vijf minuten worden de essentie en het eind van de film verteld. Je ziet direct dat André Hazes nerveus, verdrietig en beroemd is. Je ziet ook de rol van zijn vrouw. Met het liedje ‘Zij gelooft in mij’ begint de film en dat krijgt dus betekenis en een rol later in de film. There is a strange contradiction: famous and yet nervous. Het dicteert bijna dat Hazes later in de film een zenuwinzinking krijgt.

First shot: hectic. Second shot: rest, private life, lonely. He has a wife who believes in him, kids, beautiful house etc., and still he is lonely.

‘Wise men work without a scenario’. Appel works solely with a scenario for financiers, but doesn't use it for the film.

Appel spend many hours with André Hazes. He followed him for nine months but in the first six weeks almost the whole film was shot. But it had to be better yet. ‘Everything what goes wrong has a meaning’, therefor Appel did not ask André Hazes to do things over.

John Appel doesn't use archive footage. Because it's about people and their memory. Memory is in your head not in the archives. Reading about someone is something else than making a film about someone. In ‘Zij gelooft in mij’ there are no archival footage shown at all, except for one.

Documentary is about filming at the right time. Apple spend one day with his subject for the film ‘Cigar’. He took all the time to adjust himself to the old man before he start shooting. ‘But if the person ask you to film, you have to do it, that is obviously the right moment’. Don't let people do what they normally wouldn't do. For example Appel didn’t bring the veteranes to the trenches in his film ‘Dodengang’ (documentary about the First World War trenches in Belgium). What people can't do is more important than what people can do.

The scene in ‘Zij gelooft in mij’ in the Arena stadium is very important. It shows André Hazes in a very emotional state, while the production crew is not emotional at all. It shows that he is an emotional man, not a singer of emotional songs.

John Appel had in ‘Zij gelooft in mij’ the final responsibility. When André Hazes asked Appel not to use certain material, Appel responded: ‘trust me’. Appel did not just say: ‘ok’.
The contract is: don't lie about factional things. The gentlemen's agreement is: I make a personal image of you as a human, and not you as ‘the famous man’. Appel used this agreement as a argument to shoot also difficult scenes. it makes the film very authentic. What appeals to the viewer is that Hazes gives himself completely.

The film is not a concert film or a music film, but a film about the man behind the star André Hazes. That’s the structure of the film. The film does however build up to the concert, but that concert is only one song in length.

Appel does not plan on forehand visits to certain important locations. So he doesn't plan how to walk etc. But also: the subject should be fresh in their memories of the location. Using background information can be useful to look for meaningful things, but background research doesn't work if you look for memories.

Appel's documentaries are circle telling stories. Also: the last five minutes of his films are always a reflection of the whole film.

Looking and finding
He uses Up to 9% of the footage for the final film.

’You have to trust yourself that you find something. If you look for something, than you find it’. You don't have to know everything for certain.

Connect an idea to small 'tastbare' things, for example a cigar.

Appel writes in a script what he is looking for, not what is already known (for example research findings). He writes in a script for example: ‘looking for souvenirs from the past’.

Luck or misfortune do not exist. Make use of the circumstances.