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Kris De Meester

Kris De Meester is a director, producer and casting director. He started his career in 1990, taking on different roles with many of the film industry’s finest. Over the decades, he has teamed up with numerous award-winning directors. Such including Lars von Trier, Terence Davies, Thomas Vinterberg, Timo Vuorensola, Wolfgang Becker, Philippe Grandrieux, and Koen Mortier.

Kris De Meester had his film 'I Killed You a Dozen Times' selected for Experimental Brasil


1- What led you down the path of experimental filmmaking, and how do you perceive its role in the broader landscape of cinema?


I’ve been a traditional independent filmmaker for years. I’ve written and directed two feature films so far. Both of which went on to have a successful festival career. My first film even got a 7 week theatrical release in Belgium and The Netherlands. However, I always felt that the traditional way of telling a story was too blunt. This made me look for alternative ways to express myself. At the same time, I started working as a curator for several film festivals, during which I discovered the wide diversity in experimental filmmaking. These films inspired me to go deeper. It also relieved me of certain restraints that I felt with the traditional way of filmmaking. My latest short film “I killed you a dozen times” is actually my debut as an experimental filmmaker. It’s also a much more personal film. A film in which I embrace my vulnerability as a human being. 

I believe experimental films is what thrives the art from to evolve in a more profound way.  

2- When crafting a film, what is your approach to storytelling and how do you balance it with experimentation?


I’ve been a casting director for over 25 years now. I was lucky to work with some of the best directors out there. Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Terrence Davies to name a few. This probably explains why all of my films are character based, rather than based on a story. I create characters and put them in an arena. As a filmmaker I then just observe what happens. I limit myself as much as possible on a technical level, so no fancy cameras, lenses, cranes… This automatically sets the ground for the result. I try no to steer the wheel, just try not to fall from the wagon. Films evolve into what they eventually turn out to be. 

3- How do you view the relationship between your films and the audience, and what techniques do you use to create an immersive experience?


During the creative process I try not to think too much, especially no analysing. I try to ride the alpha waves. I believe this is the best way of communicating to an audience.


4- Can you provide insight into your creative process, from the initial idea to the final product?


I never really come up with ideas for a film. I will get drawn to a certain subject. Start filming it without a real purpose other than recording the event. Purely based on intuition, which I trust without limitations. The way I shot the footage will mostly determine the editing, sound score, etc. At the end I discover what the film is about.

5- What obstacles have you encountered as a filmmaker, and how have you overcome them?


I don’t really see obstacles, just opportunities. I trust in the course of things. What needs to happen, will happen. That being said, you need to take whatever comes on your way as an opportunity. Don’t be too picky. Chances are out there.


6- How do you balance the technical aspects of filmmaking with artistic expression in your films?


Artistic expression always comes first. “I Killed You a Dozen Times” was completely shot on a smart phone. I only had a limited time to shoot and using a smart phone felt natural.


7- What guidance would you offer to those seeking to enter the world of filmmaking?


Just do. Make films with whatever means. Stay close to yourself. Embrace the limitation you’ll encounter. Being it financial, technical or even talent wise. Don’t try to make something look more expensive than needed. Tell ‘the story’ on one level. If, for instance, you want to show a scene in which the character is nervous, you can just observe the character being nervous, not acting nervous. You also don’t need to accentuate this with a supporting camera movement, angle, sound, acting. Less is more. The audience is very active, they’ll do the rest.


8- How do you define success in your films, and what metrics do you use to measure it?


I call it a success when I’m happy with the result. Audience feedback is of course always supportive and very helpful to explore the art form even more.


9- What are some of the recurring themes or topics that you explore in your films, and what motivates you to delve into these subjects?


I work on existential issues, mainly because that’s what occupies my thoughts. I see filmmaking as a way of developing myself. Sure, you can call it ’therapy’.


10- What are your five favorite films and filmmakers?


Five recent favourite films


Letter To My Mother (Iran) by Amina Maher

2020 (USA) by Tom Bessoir

Shivering Wall (Taiwan) by Tseng Yu Chin

The Dream Machine (France) by Michael William West

Heat Wave Hallucination (USA) by Jil Guyon

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