Portrait of an Off-Screener: Passion #3

January 27, 2018



(n.) a thing arousing great enthusiasm


Passion, a feeling that can bring great joy and enthusiasm, a feeling that can let

peoples eyes sparkle when they talk about it, a feeling that brings energy. This

is why I choose ‘passion’ as my first subject for my portrait series. I’ll interview

three people who will talk about something that arouses great enthusiasm

within them. Their passion has either been strongly presented in their past, it’s

fully alive right now, or they have an ambition that is turning into their passion

throughout the years.


My third and last interviewee is someone many of you may know. He is a third-year student of Media & Culture who is currently making the film Van Maya to apply for the Film Academy of Amsterdam. I’m talking about Edward de Jong. He not only has a passion for film but he also has a big interest for philosophy. In this last interview we’re talking about the roots of his passion and the development of becoming a film director from the inside out.


Edward, born in Amsterdam, raised in Hoofddorp, grew up as an only child. He spent most of his time playing outside; sharing stories he either made up himself or stolen from his favourite American television shows. His parents were the ones who introduced him to film. Every night the family watched a film together, exposing Edward to classics ones such as Jaws and Godfather at a very early age, with the following consequences:







‘My parents didn’t raise me well, in the sense that they showed me films

that were not appropriate. Because of Jaws I have a fear for water, which

means I don’t dare to go in the sea and I only go half way in the

swimming pool.


Even though films traumatized Edward, it didn’t stop him from further exploring

his field of interest. Edward went to the Gerrit van der Veen high school, a

school that focuses on creativity and drama. He knew he wasn’t made to become

an actor, but he enjoyed the vibe of creating and externalising ideas, so he started

thinking about directing. Since Edward always had an interest for the American

film industry, the New York Film Academy was a reasonable thought, but paying

50.000 dollars a year is quite an expense. And being accepted was another big

challenge to overcome.


V: ‘Do you think you would have stood a chance to get accepted to the

NY film academy, if you really would have wanted it?’


            E: ‘It’s funny you say that … what do I want?


I didn’t want it in the way I want it now. And since recently I believe that

you really have to want something, before you’ll achieve it.


If you hope for something to happen, then it won’t happen, but if you

expect something to happen, you will make it. But first you really have to

get yourself to that point, where you know you’re already there, before

you make that jump.


People always say: I hope to be a director. That’s when I think: no, you

are a director and you have to believe that. And that’s one of the things

that helped me producing my film Van Maya, because I know I can.’


After Edward finished his high school exams he took a year off to earn money

for his travel to Asia and to take time to make an application film for the film

school. In the end he only focussed on traveling, which resulted in not getting

accepted for the film school.


‘The first time I tried to get in the film school I thought: yes films! I want

to be a director, because it is cool! But I wasn’t prepared at all. And

when I didn’t get accepted I was done with film and everything, I thought

‘fock everything and everyone.’


But fortunately Edward didn’t give up his dream, he just found another way to

get there. After one year of communication studies at the HvA, Edward started

Media & Culture at the UvA, where he got introduced to the course Media &

Aesthetics, given by Maryn Wilkinson.


‘I got film analysis from Maryn and I remember telling her that I got

pretty emotional during that course, because I got struck by how much I

enjoyed it. I realised I really wanted to make films. ‘But now I’m here’ I



‘But that’s okay’ she said, ‘this is another way to get there. First

understand why, instead of understanding how.’


 I really hold on to this. Just like a company you need to have a vision

first of why you do something instead of how you do something.’


This is also the reason why he has his interest in directing. As a director you work

with the bigger picture and you make sure every aspect of film is in harmony with

one and other and also being a leader of a project attracts Edward to this job.



‘In my life, I have always felt like someone who leads and preferably the

one who has everything in control. And when I’m not in that position,

then I become very… I find it hard to accept what happens to me. I let

myself depend on external acknowledgement instead of setting my own



So I would try to control you and how you behave to me, which sounds

very manipulative, but you can just do that by asking for acknowledgment.


My film is also about not being able to control your own life and that you

have to accept that you only control your own interpretation and beliefs

of things. The moment you try to control these external things, such as

friends, relationships, feelings etc., you’re trying to control something

that you’re not capable of and that’s really frustrating.


It is actually because of my group of friends from high school, that made

me realise that it’s okay for me to be here, that I can take space and don’t

let other people walk over me. And that has manifested itself to someone

who is doing well in school, has a lot of friends and is making his own



I find it interesting to see that someone who prefers to have control makes

himself depended on other people, and in this way actually loses that control.

I am also interested in Edwards’s self-awareness, I could tell he has a big interest

for philosophy and self-development, and at the same he tries to keep it ‘light’.


E: ‘I don’t want to be the guy that always takes it too heavy, I try to keep

it light.’


V: ‘Why light?’ 


E: ‘I think that once we take it all too heavy, we lose the reason why we

do it. Things need to be fun because you do it, not because they have a

goal; “The universe is best understood by analogy of music”.

That’s Alan Watts actually, professor philosophy from the 70’s. The

universe is best understood by looking at it as a piece of music instead of

a journey. The universe isn’t going anywhere.


 Look at it as a dance; the goal of the dance is the dance and not that you

have to guide the dance to a specific place; the same for music, it’s not

about the last note.


And that is what art can do, appreciating the moment for being here and

now and that’s the only thing that it serves for. Meanwhile people are

mainly occupied with their studies, relationships and friendships thinking

it needs to serve for a higher goal, but then I think you lose the

playfulness where it actually stands for.  



V: ‘Which film is your favourite?’


                       E: ‘Manchester by the sea. That is a film that gets it.


The film is about the viewer not getting close to the main character.

The moment the character is feeling sad, the camera takes its distance

instead of getting closer.


But also about understanding that some things are just hard and painful.

This film is not about closure; there is no happy ending. Compared to

films about romance, the film is not about the last kiss and people

coming back to each other in the end and everything is okay, no, love is

difficult, relationships are difficult.


And that’s what I like about this film, it’s just really sad and beautiful

but once in a while also humoristic; humour still exists in the film. But

the pain is allowed to be there.


You can be unhappy and that is something we don’t experience anymore

these days. Everybody is constant: I have to be happy in every part of my

life. So when I think of the things I’ve experienced in my life, I allow

myself to be unhappy about it and not thinking of it as a way to solve the

pain, but just accepting it and understanding that I don’t control it but

that I do control the way I look at it and how I deal with it.


V: ‘Do you have a final resolution for you film Van Maya?’


E: ‘I can’t tell.’


 V: ‘Why?’


Edward knocks on the papers lying in front of him; of course, the script.

I try again.


V: ‘But something like a happy ending? Can you say something about that? The vision you just talked about?’


E: ‘I can’t spoil the end but I can say that I’m inspired by Manchester

by the Sea in a way that you can show something very human without

dramatizing it; taking your distance of that what you’re showing.


But the happy end also depends on the viewer of course; so we’ll see, we’re

going to experience it.'


When I ask if Edward would like to have a lifelong career as a director, he gives

me an interesting view on directing; the way he sees it. He describes it as a

process of becoming an expert on one specific topic while making a film. So

 for example if he would make a film about transgender people in Germany, he

would completely dedicate himself to this subject and read everything that is

there to read about. He will talk to all the right people making sure he gets all

the right information. Strong intervals of something you’re really interested in

at that moment. This way he can create his own idea about the subject and turn

it into a piece of art.


Edwards also aims to be a bridge between film and philosophy with his directing.


E: ‘My first hunch of being a filmmaker is to be a link between

philosophical knowledge and an experience of knowledge. So I want to

make it more accessible, but not in a way that film serves for philosophy

but that film takes on a new form that is easier for people to take on;

a new form of the idea.


I just want to ask people: have you thought about what luck is? Have

you thought about this? And not in a way that I’m preaching the right

way to think about it and that I’m the one with the right knowledge, no,

 because that’s not the way to convince people.


For me it’s just about letting people question themselves and their ideas

and that is also what Socrates did. Just planting a little seed; ‘okay this

is your situation and if this happens, what then?’. People will think ‘oh

yeah, I’ve never thought about this before.’ And in this way you inspire

change in people.


My mission is to give something back to the people, by teaching them

how to be human, by giving comfort; not telling them what to do and say

ing what is the ideal way, no. I’ll give comfort by teaching them to be

content with what they have.


There is a quote on my Facebook that says: I’m in consensus with

everything that happens in- and outside myself. So right now it feels like

I’m in a kind of flow; as a director I finally get it: yes this is precisely

the spot where I feel most comfortable; exactly that spot where you can

work with a lot of people who all have great ideas but I can be the one to

say: until so far and no further and also having that feeling of: yes I can

do this, because I have that role.’



And so he does. I had the chance to see Edward in his director role while taking

the portrait photos of his two main actors. During this photo session I could tell

he gave deeds to his words and he knows what he is doing. He has a vision in

mind and because he can answer the question ‘why?’ all the time, there is no

doubt he will be successful. Edwards’s film Van Maya will premiere on the 28th

of February, so make sure you take this chance to question yourself with his

coming film and most of all enjoy this beautiful story produced with enthusiasm

and passion by Edward and his team.  


















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