Quentin van den Bossche
1) How did you get into directing?
I’ve always had a huge appetite for stories - specifically in film and television - which developed into wanting to craft my own. Naturally my curiosity led to film school, where outside of directing I focused on playing with as many different roles as possible. From producing to sparking; anything that could shift my perspective. After graduating I worked in visual effects production at Double Negative in London for a couple years. I was hugely inspired by the incredible work created by my talented peers, which motivated me to go out and build on my passion for storytelling. I successfully applied to Wieden+Kennedy’s creative incubator “The Kennedys” where I shot and edited small content pieces over 7 months. I was fortunate to be surrounded by the brightest creative minds who pushed and challenged me till the bitter end, and graduated as a director straight into commercial work.
2) What is your most recent project?
I just finished the post on a series of content films for Corona as part of an upcoming global campaign with W+K. I’ve got to remain tight lipped about the work until its release, but it was a super rad project that spanned an awesome globe-trotting shoot, which I look forward to sharing. I also just wrapped a shoot for the Sea Shepherd conservation society, which was an incredible experience shooting out at sea for ten days. Work to be released over the next couple months hopefully.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
For me it’s the creative process and its emotional journey. I love losing myself in every aspect of production. The concept stage is a perfect excuse to feed on all kinds of stories, art and culture; turning over every stone to be inspired by the amazing work that exists out there. Then the shoot is always a big adventure. I love the unpredictability and reacting to the variables, working in organized chaos with various people from all walks of life brought together by a collective determination to build something great. Before moving on to the edit, which is essentially like assembling a giant puzzle without the final picture on the box. Rather, it shifts and moves until you’ve locked in that final piece.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
Killing your darlings. Every. Time. Having to dropping that beat I loved in the edit. Or not quite nailing the shot quite I wanted on the shoot. It can be painful, but equally it’s the flip side to the countless happy accidents that happen throughout the process which can heighten the work. So in the end it all evens out.
5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
At the moment it’s largely commercials and branded content. It’s a great arena to tackle a constant stream of short stories and ideas, and learn by constantly making. I’ve been especially lucky at W+K with our client base and surrounded by brilliant minds, where it’s been great fun to streamline the creative process as an in-house team. I also like to stay inspired by working on personal projects, having released my first music video earlier this year, and dusting off some scripts for a potential short film. Generally I’m curious to taste a bit of everything in these early days of my career, and look out for stories that have the ingredients to blend together into a perfect cocktail of emotional and technical flavors.
6) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of mentors over the last few years. There were a couple producers and supervisors at Double Negative who were wonderful teachers, and had a tremendous professional attitude, working with kind and open spirits that allowed me to make my first mistakes in the industry. Important lessons I took on as I moved to Amsterdam, where Alvaro Sotomayor and Judd Caraway - creative director and producer of “The Kennedys” - have played very important roles in my directing career. Their support and trust in my work has allowed me to grow with great confidence, with the key lesson being to just keep making, making and making. And never be afraid to fail harder.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
Tricky question! The house of directors has many rooms, and depending on my mood I’ll seek the comfort or entertainment of different spaces. But admittedly it’s largely a 90’s setting, where David Fincher, Michael Mann and Tarantino have played central roles in my film education. I’ve also extensively studied the works of Jean-Pierre Melville. On the surface I seem to be drawn to crime epics, but it’s mostly the technical precision with which these filmmakers tackle their craft that has attracted me to them. Especially their courage in pushing the story telling envelope with new techniques, while remaining to keep the integrity of their voice. Something I have huge respect for when you consider the scale and focus involved to make these films happen.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Again, this is an ever-shifting answer, but I can say “Heat” and “The Thin Red Line” are up there for me, as well as Fincher’s filmography which I find very consistent. Television wise HBO has played a huge role in my life - from
The Sopranos to The Wire and Band of Brothers; I love their general attitude to storytelling culture. More recently Breaking Bad and Fargo have also struck a strong chord with me. Commercial wise, Nike’s “Write The Future” has to be up there as one of the greatest sports ads of all time, while other personal faves include Phillip’s “Carousel,” Levi’s,“Legacy” and Jonathan Glazer’s “Surfer” Guinness spot.
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I’m French born, but I grew up in the Netherlands. There I attended the International School of the Hague, and as most of my family lived in France, I spent my youth traveling back and forth. So I’ve turned out a bit of a melting pot of cultures. I had a passion for filmmaking from an early age, and I’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive family who have helped me in pursuing this passion from the beginning. At school I won a couple national prizes in student film competitions, whilst helping out on the local theatre scene. I did the odd bar job to stay afloat like any student while at university, but mostly I started off working as an AD or in lighting department on low-budget music videos and online series when I had time off.