Saturday, August 25, 2018

HollyShorts: Aimée - Daan Groot Interview

Photo Content from Daan Groot 

Daan Groot is a Dutch director, currently based in Amsterdam. He newly graduated from the Netherlands Film Academy with his short film Aimée, which won the award for the best fiction graduation film. His fiction is strongly character-driven. It’s always his goal to handle sensitive, socially relevant themes through personal stories. For instance, he directed the short film To ourselves, which examines how striving for freedom – a fleeting attitude towards life with a high degree of self-determination – is connected to egocentricity and loneliness. This film was included in the talent program of Go Short 2018.

Immediately after graduating he also started shooting commercials. His first fashion film MARTAN – for fashion label MARTAN and L’Oréal Paris – won the Young Discovery Award at Fashion Film Festival Istanbul, was both nominated and selected at several festivals, and was released online by ELLE. He also shot his first international campaign in London, Rome and Germany for Brooks Sports (soon to be released). As a commercial director in Turkey he is exclusively represented by 85/90 Projects. His commercial work is characterized by its experimental and somewhat abstract approach, which communicates the brand story to the audience on an emotional level.


´Aimée´ is a short drama film about Tessa, a nineteen year old student of medicine who decided to start working as an escort after a fight with her mother.

This summer a group of final year students of the Netherlands Film Academy started with the development of the story for their graduation movie Aimée. At the moment the formed crew is very busy with the production of the movie.

Tessa is a sympathetic student who has a complicated relationship with her mother. She is at an age where she discovers her sexuality and pushes her boundaries. In this she is more extreme than her peers. After yet another argument with her mother on the phone, where they decide not to spend Christmas holiday together, Tessa decides to start working as a highclass escort. Tessa calls herself after the perfume Aimée, that she initially bought for her mother as a Christmas present. Now she uses it on her appointments with customers. At first it doesn't seem to harm her in any emotional way. She feels powerful not to be in need of intimacy. However, Tessa starts drifting away from herself and the people around her.

Tessa is actually driven by a lack of intimacy. The feeling that she isn't loved and that she may not even be worth it, results in Tessa's self-destructive manner of handling sex. The relationship with her mother plays an important role in this conflict. The anger she feels for her mother transfers in sexual self harm. Tessa fights pain with pain. Self harming behavior is actually a way to deal with unbearable feelings: A way to regulate feelings and get mostly driven by anger.

Aimée tells the story of 21-year-old student Tessa, who takes on a job as high-class escort in a world where sex has become powerful leverage. The secret life that comes with the job and the denial of her true feelings detaches her from herself and the people who love her most.

Director Daan Groot has been fascinated by the theme of sexuality and intimacy for a long time. He met many different people within his circle who have worked as an escort. And these people weren’t ´low class people´. They were people from who you would have least expected it. Money wasn’t always the only motive. This fact fascinated Daan. He also found out in in conversations that he had with others about this theme, that there are many people who thought about starting a job in this business. Daan finds it interesting that prostitution has gotten a bigger role in this time filled with media and internet.

With this film Daan wants to investigate why we as people can be attracted to something that isn’t good for us. How we can feel excitement in the exciting, and how we can deprive our chance on real love because of our low self image. Daan finds it important to create bigger awareness for sexuality and intimacy. Because he thinks it’s everybody’s business.

The whole image and interpretation around sexuality is an important theme in the film. We want to make that visible with the presence of billboards, television advertisements or magazines. We have chosen for a realistic filmstyle, this will give the movie a raw vibe. It’s important that the film feels like a story ‘out of the actuality’. For some scenes we´re going to stay close to reality, almost documentary sometimes. For example a city decor with a lot of undirected people and natural lighting.

In the first part of the movie Tessa dresses like an average girl. She is somebody you could walk by without noticing her. But during the scenes in nightclubs it’s very clear she puts a lot of in dressing up, she knows how to dress up seductively. When she starts working as an escort she gets more invested with her appearance.

Tessa is played by Beaudil Elzenga, just graduated from the Dutch Academy of Theater in Amsterdam. During the rehearsals Daan wants to further develop Tessa as a persona and prepare the drive behind the scenes well. On set there must be room for improvisation.

Daan Groot at the Red Carpet with JBN Journalist, Rachel Litfin.

Daan Groot at the Red Carpet with Rachel Litfin and BJ Verot.


HollyShorts takes place August 9-18, 2018 at the TCL Chinese Theater, Harmony Gold Theater and other locations in Hollywood. Nearly 400 short films will compete for the festival’s top prizes. Last year HollyShorts finalists included 3 out of the 5 Live Action Oscar nominees and the winning short Silent Child from Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton. This year, HollyShorts received an all-time record 5,000 submissions from over 80 countries. The competition will feature Live Action, Animation and Documentary Shorts as well as web series, student shorts, music videos, TV pilots, and VR. The festival also features a screenplay competition where the winning short gets greenlit, shot and shown at next year’s festival courtesy of Seattle Film Summit.

Video/Edit: James Vallesteros (@jamesvallesteros). Audio: Edward Chung.

HollyShorts Film Festival is an organization devoted to showcasing the best and brightest short films from around the globe, advancing the careers of filmmakers through screenings, networking events, and various panel and forums. The Oscar Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival showcases the top short films produced 40- minutes or less. Categories include Short Animation, Short Live Action, Short Documentary, Music Video, Webisode, Commercials, TV, and Digital Microbudget.
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