Esmée van Loon (1996) directs and produces her own documentaries, often on social issues. Looking beyond the surface, observation and involvement with her topics are important elements in her process. Her films assume a strong humanistic attitude from sociopolitical, psychological and philosophical perspectives.
She works/has worked as an (assistant) producer for VPRO Tegenlicht, 25FPS Commercial Production, SpiegelFilm, KoalaKoncepts, Flikken Rotterdam and Flikken Maastricht. She is a board member of FilmPlatform Rotterdam and editor for Rotterdams Open Doek. In 2017 Esmée was chosen to be the Dutch ambassador in the Youth Jury of the Venice Film Festival and ambassador of the LUX Film Prize. In 2018 she was one of the participants of the Go Short Talent Campus. Her documentaries have been screened at several film festivals, including International Film Festival Rotterdam and ShortCutz. Together with Marijn van der Ploeg, Esmée van Loon is the owner of a new production company KamerFilm. Her latest film Double Lucky will be broadcasted on Dutch Public Television in May 2019.
What is your occupation now?
I am a freelance film director and producer, directing and producing my own projects as well as others. My graduation film is making its rounds right now and I’ve started writing a plan for a new documentary.
Together with Marijn van der Ploeg (right on the photograph), whom I have studied with at WdKA, we have launched a foundation KamerFilm. It is a Rotterdam-based film production company and it is our goal to direct and produce films about socially relevant topics. We are now working on a film called “Onderweg” which Marijn will direct and I will produce. Currently, I work for Warner Bros ITVP as an assistant producer on Flikken Maastricht and Flikken Rotterdam.
I have always seen the WdKA as one big playground
What did you gain from your study at WdKA?
I think my biggest gain is that I’ve got to know and understand myself: who am I and what do I want to contribute? I’ve always seen the WdKA as one big playground. The four years that I have studied there I’ve had the time and possibilities to explore and shape my vision, my way of thinking and my way of creating. I think those are some of the most valuable things to gain.
Double Lucky, Graduation Documentary
Documentary director Esmée van Loon grew up with two mothers. This always raised many questions, which she sometimes finds difficult to deal with. She decided to investigate how other young people handle these situations Just like Esmée, Marijn, Dora and Lieke all grew up with gay parents. They tell her how this form of parenting has shaped them. Because how do you learn to shave as a guy with two mothers? Is it more difficult for a girl to deal with men if you have two mothers? In this film, you’ll see what it’s like to grow up with pink parents and a critical, but humorous, look is cast at all “well-meaning” questions.
Favourite WdKA memory?
That’s a hard one because I got plenty. But each and every one of them has to do with my classmates. Couldn’t have wished for more fun, loving, talented and cheerful people. They truly made my time at the WdKA special. I think one of the most remarkable things in our class that we really lifted each other up. They always gave the best feedback, something I kind of miss right now. I also cherish the last month we all spent together, organising the exhibition and our premiere night in LantarenVenster. We saw each other almost every day: eating, drinking, laughing and complaining. We would sit at the Oude Haven in the sun with a beer, talking about how the years at the academy flew by.
What is the future of your profession in your opinion?
When I started making films, I noticed that my work provoked reactions and realised that as a filmmaker, you truly have the power to change minds, spark up conversations and give unheard voices a stage. I have always believed in the magic of cinema (this is why I chose to study it), but it is even more magical when you are a part of creation and realisation.
I think cinema is something that will always evolve and will always remain important and relevant. Because there always will be stories to be told, and people feeling ￼the need to tell them. That’s something that will never change. Especially in this era, when most of our communication has moved towards the online world, film is something that has become even more accessible and attractive, but also very powerful.
Ma’MaQueen: This film, made in my third year, is about a drag queen. Of course, this is a subject that had already been approached by many filmmakers before me. So I was really wondering how I could make my film different than others. What I wanted most of all was to be able to talk to Dennis's parents, something I knew would be difficult for them. I was really doubting whether I should carry through with this idea, or just forget about it. Eventually, I knew that this was really going to be the best way to make my film stand out, and so I decided to go ahead with it. You can now watch Ma’MaQueen on 2DOC and read about the making of this documentary on this site.
You never leave your house without...?
Food. I always snug something in my bag in case I get hungry (which always happens).
Any words of advice for future students?
Always create the things that you want to create. Never design something for your teachers only. Your time at the academy is the time to experiment, to fail and to find your own voice within your profession. In the end, teachers appreciate you taking risks way more than you please them. Also, reach for the stars. Think in terms of solutions, not in problems. There is more possible than you can imagine - something you will never find out if you think small. Never underestimate your own (creative) power and make it happen.
Double Lucky Crew
Director: Esmée van Loon, Camera: Gijs Wilbers, Editor: Sjoerd Schipper, Sound Design: Ting Fung Chueng, Henk-Jelle de Groot, Colour: Danny Cotino, Graphic Design: Marieke den Ouden, Composer: Dorian Broekhuyse, Ting Fung Chueng, Sound: Guus Voorham, Dennis van Rijswijk, Suzanne Boekestijn, Associate producer: Rien Bexkens, Producer: KamerFilm.
Future plans and hopes?...
After finishing working on the last season of Flikken Rotterdam, I hope to continue writing the script for the new documentary I would love to direct. I want to keep creating and tell stories. Also, I hope that Marijn and I will make steps forward with our production company. I would also like to visit more foreign film festivals.