Where I'm @
Audiovisual Design

A Documentary Approach

Jack Westerlaken
Sat 27 Oct
Function Filmmaker
Year 2014
Major Audiovisual Design
Practice Social Practices

Nominee: Henri Winkelman Award 2019

On 29th of May 2019, the annual award show of the Henri Winkelman Award will take place at the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA). The Henri Winkelman Award has been created seven years ago by the Stichting Ondernermersbelangen Rotterdam. This foundation supports young innovative entrepreneurs on their way with two incentive prices of € 10,000 and € 5000.


Photo by Sander Ploeg

What is your occupation now?

I run my own film production company 'Het Grote Doek'. I work as a director and a producer, making short films and commercials. Always with a documentary approach.

What expertise did you gain at WdKA?

I have learned to translate my observations and ideas into a detailed film with a deeper meaning. I have always been full of ideas, but did not know how to implement them in the best way at first: I found it rather difficult to get to the core of the story. A film can have a strong visual appearance, but it is the underlying message that makes the film original or personal.

'Valt een man uit de lucht’, set photo by Sander Ploeg

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

If I look around, I notice that almost all of my fellow-classmates have 'landed' well. But there are also people who have changed their career path completely.

Stories will always be told even though there are more and more options to do it. Years ago it was still very uncommon to see drone-shots in a movie. Now your next-door neighbor kid can make similar shots. With that all said, the art of making an original film will never seize to exist.

The academy is full of people with talent and inspiration

You never leave your house without?

An idea of a well thought-out and planned day. I always decide beforehand what I want to get out of my day. If you open my calendar, you will see all my activities structured in all the colors of the rainbow. Even my free time activities are marked as recreation. In my opinion structure is necessary, especially when your head is overwhelmed with impulses.

Any words of advice to future students.

Don't try to do everything yourself. I used to do everything myself in my projects. I wrote my script, thought about decoration and scenery, filmed and even went so far as designing the poster. Try to learn from the people around you. The academy is full of people with talent and inspiration. Build a team of people around you with whom you can create beautiful stuff together.

'Valt een man uit de lucht’, set photo by Sander Ploeg

Name your favourite recent project.

The short film 'A Man Falls From the Sky' that had its first screening during the NFF. The idea came from a fellow-director Jan Verdijk. He was writing a script for the movie that had so many similarities with my work. I told him that I'd loved to help, which resulted in me becoming the film's production manager. I am very proud of the result. I prefer to be a director on the next film's set though. Leading a production gives me too much stress.

Curious about jack's other projects? Visit his website.

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