Luuk Walschot directs ‘Union Jake’.

This film premiered on Directors Library on the 12th of December 2019.

 

1.1 Preface

Text by Luuk Walschot


Union Jake is a short fictional film based on true events. Leading character Jake questions his identity in a politically and religiously divided community. He is done fighting and is in search of something which unites us all.

 

Coming from the Netherlands I knew little about the history of Northern Ireland and the civil war it went through during ‘the troubles’. What triggered me in making this film was seeing a documentary about the 11th night and orangemen’s day on the 12th. It intrigued me that in this day and age bonfires are lit from 100 feet or higher, often in the middle of a residential area, to celebrate one’s nationality.

 

I think we live in very exciting times in which I believe we need to evolve faster in terms of our collective consciousness so to speak. We need to realise that we don’t live in separate nations anymore, but in one single country called capitalism.

 

1.2 Production

Text by Luuk Walschot


Having an advertising background I wanted to make something uncompromising and as brutally real as possible. I wanted to make something which to me felt as truth. With very little experience working together, Tobias Corba and Hannah Padding from Bandit Amsterdam [1] gave me a budget to work with and total creative freedom to do what I wanted. They took a risk with me for which I’m very grateful.

 

It proved difficult to run the production from Amsterdam so I flew to Belfast ten days prior to the bonfires to find locations and most importantly my leading actor. I started by approaching mixed community centres who are involved in strengthening the relationship between the catholics and protestants and who have a core goal of mutual understanding. This was a difficult process and although I received a lot of support it still is a controversial subject matter for a lot of people.

 

Eventually I found Jack Marshall, a sixteen year old boy with parents from both sides. His unique face and powerful energy were perfect for this role. He did a great job and I couldn’t have wished better. His family was very supporting and they all gave a 100 percent.

 

After a week of research and pre-production the cinematographer flew in and we shot the majority of the film in three days time, shooting only during magic hour. The weather in Belfast is mainly crap and summer is no exception! Sorry to say so.

 

Coming back and looking at the material we were happy but not fully satisfied and decided to go back for another three days of shooting. We met so many great people and saw so many great places that it felt right to push it a bit more. The film grew very organically in this way. It was a great experience.

 

[1] bandit.amsterdam/

 

1.3 Cinematography

Text by Luuk Walschot


The cinematography is done by Abel van Dijk [2]. I literally met him a week before my departure and based on his amazing reel and visual approach decided he was the right man for this adventure. Abel is a true artist and has a sensitive yet fearless energy which was perfect for this project. It really helped that we had the same taste in terms of what we find beautiful.

 

I decided to go for a 4:3 aspect ratio, because I wanted the full focus on Jake and his inner struggles and psyche. He feels trapped and experiences a suffocating feeling from which he wants to break free. This framing fitted nicely with this intention I believe.

 

It was important for me that every shot was very pure and stripped from all nonsense so to speak. Although it comes across as a documentary like approach, everything you see is very staged. In this way I could achieve the concentrated aggression I was after.

 

We shot with an Arri Amira and a set of Kowa spherical lenses and had the fortune to arrange a nice package deal with Camera Rentals Amsterdam [3].

 

[2] abelvandijk.com/
[3] camerarentals.nl/

 

1.4 Sound & Music Design

Text by Luuk Walschot


The music and sound design was done by my buddies Mari Koning and Joshua Petit from Soundsright [4]. I’ve worked a lot with them in the past and although they mostly work for commercial clients they know how to produce a score with more depth and edge.

 

I wanted to go for a spherical score which doesn’t distract you too much but does have a nice build up towards the middle. Besides music the sound effects play an important role in really feeling you’re there. They did an excellent job in finding the right balance between music, sound effects and voice over. In less than three minutes the viewer is shaken from their feet and softly brought back down to the ground again.

 

[4] soundsright.nl/

 

1.5 Post-Production

Text by Luuk Walschot


Because we basically storyboarded the whole script on location we didn’t have a lot of choice in the edit. At one point we were so short of footage the script needed a little rewrite. It’s cool to see that you can always adjust and that the film will only get better as a result of it. Tobias Corba, the owner/creative director at Bandit is also a gifted editor. He did an amazing job. You make one film in pre-production, one during filming and one in the edit. It’s always a cool process.

 

In terms of grading we wanted to go for an analog look with nice, natural colours and a grainy feel to it. Jeffrey De Angst did a great job. The graphic design is done by my buddy Joran Backx [5]. A super talented guy who instantly understood what I was after.

 

[5] joranbackx.nl/

 

1.5 Direction

Text by Luuk Walschot


Considering the time and money we had I knew I needed to keep it as simple as possible. Therefore I chose to write a voice-over narration and focussed purely on compelling imagery. I produced the majority myself in the week prior to Abel’s arrival, but we still needed to arrange quite a bit of things on the days itself. In this way my full focus was on finding intriguing cast, shooting at beautiful locations and thinking of unique actions.

 

My intention was to tell a very personal story which everyone can relate to, but subconsciously feeling these bigger themes. Jake was raised as a unionist, but doesn’t really care and wants to look beyond these outer appearances. Although the title refers to the Union Jack and the film takes place in Northern Ireland, it is a very universal story about love. Love for each other and self love.

 


Luuk is on Instagram & Vimeo

luukwalschot.com/

Join thousands of filmmakersGet the Newsletter.

An occasional email featuring selections of video from our shelves. We will occasionally share special announcements, projects, screenings and other site news with you. Sign up.