Jan van Gorkum

He is the man behind Tussesntop Dollar Baby Film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Jan van Gorkum: My name is Jan van Gorkum and I’m a filmmaker from the Netherlands. In 2010, I graduated as a filmmaker from the Utrecht Academy of the Arts (HKU).  Since then, I’ve written and directed several short films and I’ve also worked as an editor and assistant editor on films and tv-shows.

SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?

Jan van Gorkum: From a very young age. I’ve always loved movies and made short films with friends as a kid. So it’s something I’ve always wanted to become.

SKSM: When did you make Tussenstop? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?

Jan van Gorkum: I started working on Tussenstop around the second half of 2010 and the movie was finished in June 2011. So it took almost a year of work. Most of the work was organizing everything. The film was made very low-budget, so I had to find a lot of sponsors and crewmembers who were willing to work for free. A lot of equipment was sponsored, from camera equipment to locations. Getting all of that in place, takes a lot of time and work. We shot the film in 4 days, including one night shoot for all of the exterior scenes and highway scenes. All the interior scenes were shot during daytime.

SKSM: How come you picked Rest stop to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?

Jan van Gorkum: In 2010 I read Just After Sunset, the book of which Rest Stop is a part. I really liked the struggle of the main character, about whether or not he should intervene and help a woman in distress. It’s a very primal story: fight or flight. From a financial point of view as a filmmaker, it’s also one of the more manageable stories that you can turn into a film without a lot of money.

I also tried to make the story a bit of my own, when I was writing the screenplay. So it’s a bit of a loose adaptation. In the original story, I didn’t like the whole thing about the main character having an alter ego, which is something that is not in my film. For me, the story was about someone who struggles a long time before he decides to intervene and then things don’t go as smoothly as he had hoped for. I tried to keep the story a bit more basic and grounded in a way.

SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?

Jan van Gorkum: I think I discovered it online, on a movie website that published an article about movie adaptations of Stephen King’s work. After I had read Rest Stop, I checked the website of Stephen King and saw the list with short stories of which the rights were available. Rest Stop was one of the available stories and then I decided to buy the rights and make a Dutch film based on the story.

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?

Jan van Gorkum: There’s always something goofy or funny that happens during a film production. One moment that stands out for me, took place during the night shoot. We were driving on a highway for some of the interior car shots. Yorick Zwart, who played the main character John, was driving his own car for real and I was in the back with the director of photography. So we were driving on this old and desolate highway near the Belgium border, and we suddenly noticed it was really dark outside. There were no streetlights, no nothing. It was pitch black. Yorick slowed down the car and we started to talk about what could be wrong. It took a short moment before we all realized that the headlights of the car had stopped working. And we were driving there in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, the high beam lights of the car still worked and we drove to a gas station to buy some new regular car lights. We were there right on time, just before the shop closed.

SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?

Jan van Gorkum: Personally, I hope the Dollar Baby policy changes in the future, so that the film can be available online for free. The film had a great festival run in 2011 and 2012, but after that, you can’t really show the film anywhere, apart from film festivals. And to be available online, is very important for short films in the long run. It’s a bit frustrating, because as a filmmaker, you put a lot of time and work in a project and you want the film to be available to a large audience. And it’s an independent film, not a commercial film. So I really hope the policy changes, but that’s out of my hands unfortunately.

SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?

Jan van Gorkum: Overall, I have received a lot of positive feedback. People seem to enjoy the film and they like the suspense. But of course, there are also people who don’t like it or that have issues with some parts of it. I think some of the stuff concerning the argument the troubled couple has in the film, is a bit long and gives too much exposition. And the fight scene between the main characters could have been a bit more visceral. Looking back on the film, that are things that I would do differently now. But I’m still happy with the film. Every film you make is a learning experience, and I learned a lot during the making of this film.

SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?

Jan van Gorkum: I have no plans for the film at this time. The film had its festival run back in 2011 and 2012, so there aren’t any screenings planned in the near future.

SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?

Jan van Gorkum: Yes, I’m a fan of his work. Stephen King is an amazing storyteller and I really enjoy reading his work. I don’t have all of his work, but I do have a lot of books and films. My favorite books are The Dark Tower saga, It and Different Seasons. Some of my favorite adaptations are Stand By Me, directed by Rob Reiner, and The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont.

SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?

Jan van Gorkum: Unfortunately, I did not have any personal contact with Stephen King during the making of the film. I did send a copy of the film to his office back in 2011, but sadly haven’t heard anything. I do hope he has seen the film.

SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?

Jan van Gorkum: No, I don’t have any plans to make more films based on short stories by Stephen King. It was really fun to make an adaptation, but I enjoy writing my own stories for my films a bit more.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Jan van Gorkum: I’m working on my first feature film called The Cleaner, a combination of dark comedy and horror, which is currently in development. Last year the project was presented at Frontières, an international co-production market in Canada, where it received a lot of great buzz. I’m still working on the screenplay for that film.

SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Jan van Gorkum: Maybe that I’m an avid collector of action figures based on films.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Jan van Gorkum: You’re welcome. I hope the readers find it interesting.

SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?

Jan van Gorkum: Thank you for the interview. And I hope that one day more people get the chance to watch Tussenstop.

A BIG THANKS to Danny Paap for making it possible!!!

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