Dutch producer Reinier Selen of Rinkel Film Productions entered 2009 with a spring in his step following the recent decision of fellow Dutch commercials producers Ivo De Jongh and Jack Kuiper to become shareholders within his company. Aside from the roster of commercials talent that the pair can bring to Rinkel, De Jongh and Kuiper also own post-production facilities which, Selen argues, makes his company an attractive option for international projects in the future.
‘De Jongh and Kuiper bring a lot of new and fresh energy to the company,’ Selen stresses. ‘They add further financial expertise, and as they are producers of commercials they bring a different approach to the work. They produce a commercial every week, which is very different to the rate of feature film production, so that adds a lot of energy. What’s more, with the post-production facilities, Rinkel can now post-produce films and tv in-house.’
Selen suggests that the collaboration has hardened his resolve to develop projects, both arthouse and mainstream, that can deliver in both critical and commercial terms. ‘The productions will be more commercially-oriented, but we will also be critical in determining what is the audience for our films. This is important because the market demands it. You should talk to Dutch distributors – they are really careful about selecting projects that may be very beautiful but which may not bring in the audiences. Unfortunately 2008 has thrown up many examples of Dutch films which were artistically very interesting but didn’t make their money back.’
Selen set up Rinkel Film in 1997 and saw immediate success with the children’s short film DE BICYCLEe which was selected for over 40 international film festivals. In 2003 tv producer Edwin van Meurs came on board at which point the company morphed into Rinkel Film & TV. The company’s 2003 hit GODFORSAKEN (Pieter Kuijpers) won the Golden Film Award for exceeding 100,000 visitors and picked up three Golden Calves at the Netherlands Film Festival, for best director, screenplay and actor. Their 2008 BLOOD BROTHERS (Arno Dierickx) was also nominated for five Golden Calves and continues its festival run into March 2009 where it will screen simultaneously in festivals as far afield as Mexico, Italy, Sweden and Bucharest.
The company is currently in post-production on NOTHING PERSONAL, the directorial debut of Urszula Antoniak, which will star Stephen Rea (THE CRYING GAME) and the up-and-coming Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek (Left, 2009). The English-language film is a co-production with Irish production house Fastnet Films and is a supported by the Dutch Film Fund, the Irish Film Board, Dutch broadcaster VPRO and the Dutch CoBO Fund. A psychological drama about a young vagabond woman who end ups in the house of an older man, the pair subsequently struggle to maintain a platonic relationship, hence the film’s poignant title. ‘The film is very visual and very personal, with little dialogue – it is not a standard psychological drama,’ Selen points out. Nothing Personal will be ready for Cannes 2009.
Selen stresses that the company’s upcoming project RIFF is another example of his more muscular approach to isolating projects with greater financial viability. The film tells the story of a dedicated drunk whose resolve never to love again is severely tested when a new woman enters his life. ‘It is a dark and tragic comedy by Marco Knijnenburg,’ explains Selen. ‘It’s specific, funny and also strange in a way, but because the humour and the dialogue is so good, it’s the type of film that may transfer from accessible arthouse to mainstream. It doesn’t lend itself to co-production as it is set entirely in The Netherlands, with Dutch characters and a very Dutch humour, but it may very well travel.’ So far the Dutch Film Fund has covered development costs. Selen is looking to entice a Dutch broadcaster to contribute towards the film’s €1 million budget.
‘We also have a co-production with South Africa, Flawed Life, which I am the minority partner on,’ Selen continues. ‘This is generating a lot of interest within the Film Fund as it will be one of the first feature films to establish a necessary collaboration between Holland and South Africa, where I have strong contacts. For a long time I wondered why, with the peculiar history between Holland and South Africa, we don’t have a co-production treaty, so I helped design a memorandum of understanding between the Dutch Film Fund and the South African Film Fund to acknowledge a willingness to support each other’s projects. Hopefully Flawed Life will be a project that will benefit from that interest.’
Selen is continuing to develop Melinda Jansen’s A RECIPE for Hendrik Hadders (WITTE WIEVEN) which picked up the Kodak Development Prize of the Netherlands Production Platform in 2005. With German Riva Filmproduktion acting as co-producer, Swiss distributor Frenetic Films on board and a tv deal struck with Dutch broadcaster Max, Selen is hopeful that the Film Fund will finally give a nod to the project which is budgeted at €1.7 million. Bavaria Film Sales have agreed to handle international sales.
Selen insists that the changes within Rinkel Film benefit greatly the company’s ongoing co-production activities, especially given his partners’ desire to forge allegiances within the German post-production industry. ‘We are already co-producing actively with Europe but this might result in more co-productions with Germany as on a company level you can decide on the collaborations that both companies can benefit from more. I’m not saying that we will become like the Danish Zentropa with offices in many countries across Europe, but we are certainly spreading our wings.’