Who was Tom Heene before becoming a director?
I studied film and video at the Brussels Film School, so I suppose I always have been a director even if at that time I prefered to work in a more experimental way. Leaving the filmschool I started to work for television and later for film, always as a production manager or assistant director. Eight years ago, after too much stress on an important movie project, I decided to go back to my personal work: first experimenting with digital media (which I still and always will do) and then coming back to narrative cinema.
Why did you choose this story for your debut film?
Welcome Home is situated in my hometown Brussels. The film talks about its past and present, its longtime and new inhabitants, its feelings of love and hate. Brussels is the world in which I became adult and gave me the inspiration to create stories. It is also the place where I learned to watch cinema. It feels very logic to use this natural environment and its real and fictional stories as the inspiration for my movies.
How was working for the first time on the feature lenght film?
How was the experience on the set? (Most satisfying and more difficult moment?)
The first day of the shooting I was full of happy emotions and positive stress. Being supported by an experienced crew, the shooting went very well. I already had more then 10 years of experience in the cinema industry, so I knew how things functioned and who had wich responsibility. I am the initiator and the guide, I am responsible for bringing the movie towards a good end, but I do have a lot of respect for everyone's part in what is the collective creation of a film. I do not remember any difficult moments during the shooting but I do remember I needed a lot of patience during the post-production. For several reasons, it took us two years to finish the film but at the end it is clearly time itself that helped us finish the editing, mixing and colouring in a serene way.
At the moment, do you have any idea for future projects?
I am actually developing a new media installation called DarkMatr. In this work I try to marry the possibilities of digital (interactive) tools with an immersive cinematic feeling. I got aware recently that the installation somehow can be linked to the use of archives, writing, poetry, and reproducing intellectual property as it was done in certain films in the 1980s and 1990s.
Besides the creation of this installation, I am developing a feature film that would again be situated in a “Euro-Brussels” environment. I also would like to make a late night TV series that has the same arena. And finally, I think of developing a web doc or maybe fiction.
I am also part of a small collective and we hope to curate next year some visual and conceptual artists during special "intimate exhibitions".
The background of your main actors is theatre (Kurt Vandendriessche often worked with Ian Fabre and Manah Depaw is a theatrical director) and both had experiences as a director: how was working with two people who master the theatrical language and can be considered authors themeselves?
I thought that finding the right actors for the two main characters would have been difficult. I was afraid that very few good actors were willing to go that far.
I had seen Manah in several pieces and was impressed by her physical presence and bluntness. Our meeting with Kurt was a total coincidence but I knew the night we looked at the video of the casting that he was the one. We only had to bring the two actors together to verify if their 'atoms' could work together, and it did.
Manah and Kurt's theater work is all but conventional, certainly not classic, the link to a more 'naturalistic' cinema was then easily made. Both also have a lot of experience in using their physical presence, which was needed for the role. Finally, being also directors, they were truly intellectually engaged, and this allowed us to adapt the dialogues and bring them to a higher level. In the beginning of the shooting we all had to find our marks but during the most important scenes Manah and Kurt have given me that precious gift which is called 'confidence'.