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This Is Gonna Be Great (2024)

My friend Rein Mulder and me worked for about ten years on the idea for our European comedy series before it finally came to fruition. We worked as writers/creators on the series, from pre- to post-production, with Rein even taking on the lead role.

David (30) finds himself stranded in Berlin after his girlfriend Eva dumps him upon arrival, exhausted by his grand, yet ultimately empty gestures. This isn't at all what he expected; he's a dreamer who sees the world as a movie where he's the protagonist. Despite his parents' skepticism, the same romantic impulse that led him to the German capital now compels him to stay and create a new story for himself.

Integrating into a new city proves challenging, especially for someone with such high expectations. David continues to embellish reality and is continuously drawn to bizarre, larger-than-life characters that need to color his stories. As a true entertainer, he masks his sorrow with jokes and songs. Fortunately, he finds lodging with Rob, a hyper-rational Norwegian physics student with a love for the guitar and physics, and reconnects with his Flemish childhood friend Aisha who’s always on and busy working. He then meets Hanna, a direct yet mysterious German girl whom he inevitably sees as the new love of his life.

David struggles to connect with Berliners due to a harsh language barrier. His acting aspirations lead him to a humiliating EU commercial audition. His date with Hanna is ambiguous. He encounters a man who lives permanently in a techno club, a cashier who becomes biologically aggressive when he tries to pay with a card, and ends up in a champagne bar where guests' pretensions reach absurd levels. All this leaves David increasingly confused: can he still rely on his romantic ideals? A visit to Dieter and Monika, intense friends of his parents living in the forests around Berlin, makes David realize he needs to overcome some barriers.

Meanwhile, inspired by David, Rob decides to revamp his lifestyle to improve his dating prospects. Aisha also realizes she needs to change her self-sacrificing, intensely busy life that's causing her harm. Initially reserved, Hanna is gradually drawn out of her shell by David. The four individuals in Berlin start to spend more time together. David realizes the others are real people - not characters in his film. Yet, David's attention still gravitates toward Hanna. Increasingly David is plagued by fear and panic.

David decides to take action. But does the answer lie in addressing his health (his testicular pain), exploring new (BDSM) adventures, delving into Berlin's history, or pursuing love? When should one relax, and when should one push oneself? As David receives a major film audition while his friends each face crises, the question arises: will he remain stuck in his romantic fantasy, or will he finally confront reality?

Produced by Big Blue Series and co-produced by BNNVARA, the Film Fund Incentive, ZDFneo (10x ’25). 

Shot in Berlin and parts of the Netherlands in the spring and summer of 2023 with a cast of over 30 international actors, most notably Jonas Strand Gravli, Abigail Abraham and Mona Vojacek Koper. Directed by Beer ten Kate and Valerie Bisscheroux.

Dit Was Het Nieuws

Drie jaar lang (2019-2022) was ik redactielid bij dit klassieke satirische programma, waar niets te dol was. Grappen (her)schrijven, items produceren en samen het programma in elkaar zetten.

Ik begon ooit als grappenschrijver voor DWHN, na mijn mislukte avontuur als stand-up comedian. Als tiener was het mijn lievelingsprogramma, echt iets waar ik voor thuisbleef. Redactiechef Eric van Sauers gaf me altijd veel vertrouwen, maar het was vreemd om vanuit huis grappen in te sturen, zonder enige binding met het programma (ik werd per uitgekozen grap betaald).

Een compilatie van mijn grappen uit die tijd.

Nadat ik Eric een verbolgen mail met kritiek op de inhoudelijke koers van het programma stuurde, nodigde hij me prompt uit om redactielid te worden. Na een gesprek met zijn compagnon Koos Terpstra kon ik beginnen.

Dit Was Het Nieuws bestaat al heel lang (ik mocht het 25-jarig bestaan meemaken) en werkte nog op een vrij ouderwetse manier. Maar ik voelde vanaf het begin veel warmte en respect voor de professionaliteit waarmee het gemaakt werd. Presentator Harm Edens werkt ongelofelijk hard. Teamcaptains Peter Pannekoek en Jan Jaap van der Wal zijn altijd scherp en voorbereid.

Onze taak als redactie was om het geraamte van het programma in elkaar te zetten: het quizdeel over het laatste nieuws, de grappen van Harm (selecteren en zelf (her)schrijven) en allerlei gekkigheid. Het vergde enorm veel detail- en selectiewerk om dat elke week, zeven weken lang, klaar te zetten. Ik leerde in hoog tempo enorm veel over oneliners schrijven en het produceren van een tv-programma.

Tijdens de coronacrisis maakten we het programma zonder publiek en met beperkte capaciteit. Ik heb er enorm veel gelachen, en soms wat frustratie gevoeld omdat mijn smaak geen aansluiting vond. Wat overheerst is de dankbaarheid voor de kans op deze ervaring en drie intense, maar leuke jaren.
Dit Was Het Nieuws

Etgar Keret:
Based on a True Story (2017)

Me and my high school friend, the director Stephane Kaas, made a film about our favorite writer, the Israeli Etgar Keret. But above all it’s an hommage to storytelling and jokes, the tools that help us survive life’s hardships.

The film is about Keret’s short stories and his absurd life. It’s a mixture of documentary filmmaking and fiction, autobiography and lies. To our surprise, Keret enthusiastically supported our wild plans.

We tried to investigate how Etgar Keret, with his many short stories and his ’truthful’ anecdotes, became such an amazing storyteller. After the suicide of his best friend, his storytelling became almost compulsive, and endless stream of answers to the question: why choose life?

We filmed Keret and his inner circle in Tel Aviv, Israel, within the sometimes harsh reality of Israeli society, and during his New York book tour. Family (Shira Geffen), friends (Gur Bentwich), and famous colleagues like Jonathan Safran Foer, Gary Shteyngart and This American Life host Ira Glass were interviewed as storytelling-experts, and asked to retell their favourite Keret story.

To do justice to Keret’s associative thinking and his rich life story, we chose to use different storytelling techniques: animated fiction stories, made by BAFTA-winner Nina Gantz, reconstructions of Keret’s anecdotes, and a lively montage with back stage peeks.

We won two awards (Best Literature Doc and Best Debut) at the Master of Art Film Festival in Bulgaria, the Prix Italia, Best Documentary at the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, The Jury Prize at Le Fifa and last but not least: an International Emmy Award.

Praise for the documentary:

“Everyone fell in love with the form and substance of this documentary about an author. Inspired by his subject’s incredible style, the director had the jury laughing out loud even as he offered a deep reflection on the art of storytelling. In a world that often seems senseless, Keret offers a way to reconcile ourselves with the absurdity of life, and his art is a breath of fresh air.”
-Le Fifa jury report

“These filmmakers invented a new way to do a documentary when they made this funny, beautiful, totally original film. New York! You’re lucky to have it in a theatre!”
-Ira Glass, Twitter

“The film unfolds Keret, showing off his poignant, funny sense of humor, his love of gags, his intensely personal way of looking at his own life, and that of Israeli society around him. And, through it all, Keret’s inimitable way of viewing humanity with a gently mocking but loving and quirky tone.”
–The Times of Israel

“A highly entertaining portrait that captures Keret’s vibrant personality, and transpires the inflicting excitement of two boys that grew up loving Keret’s work. (…) An uplifting experience, as playful as its subject. It’s that kind of film that leaves you inspired and longing for more.”
-The Modern Times Review

“Funny, endearing and moving portrait of the fantastic Etgar Keret”
–de Volkskrant

“Amazing documentary”
–Het Parool

“Original, imaginatively crafted documentary.” – De VPRO Gids

“Afterwards, you’re guaranteed to feel happy. Really happy.” -Jaap Robben, writer

Audiotour (2010)

Geselecteerd voor onder andere Festival de très Courts (eervolle vermelding door de jury), het Nederlands Film Festival (NFF), het New Media Film Festival in Shenzen, China.

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© Rutger Lemm