the lead character and title
the lead character and title

We just heard from the always entertaining writer/director Erik van Schaaik on two delightful films going into production:

World-famous medieval artist Hieronymus — or Jerome — Bosch was nicknamed the devil maker, because of his paintings full of bizarre creatures. He lived in The Netherlands, in the city of Den Bosch — hence the name — in a time of plague, city fires, and witch hunts.

Writer Erik van Schaaik
Writer Erik van Schaaik

Ever since childhood I’ve been a fan of his work. And I wondered: who is this brilliant, heavy metal artist? I always hoped someone would make a film about him, but nobody ever did. And that’s why I started writing a screenplay: my first feature-length script, Hieronymus.

It’s a dark coming-of-age fantasy story about this 15 year-old boy, embarking on an extraordinary adventure that turns him into the famous artist we know today.

So how to go about it? Watch Youtube tutorials on writing? Read all kinds of books on writing? Or better still: just go ahead and write stuff?

I like to work hard and I have a healthy imagination, so I have no problem throwing out ideas and coming up with better ones. I started scribbling many outlines and treatments — some with the weirdest structures, poems even — until someone said I had to stop starting over again each time. It was around then when I read the first Save the Cat! book. It gave me some friendly but strict advice, short and sweet. Now I knew what I had to do…

STC helped me to knock my ideas into shape. I wrote the screenplay in a short time, with some invaluable help from my script coach — Daan Velsink is a champ on structure — and then rewrote until draft number six. It’s this draft that was bought by The Drawing Room.

Suddenly I’m a writer of an animated feature! Even better: I get to direct the movie. My friend Jiek Weishut is in charge of production. We’re storyboarding now. If you know the Bosch paintings you can imagine that this thing is going to be huge. Huge on a slender budget though. So wish us luck, we’re going to need it!

At the same time I have an animated horror comedy short film, Under the Apple Tree, also in development.

title card
title card

First I wrote a little book, an amusing, creepy, and certainly offbeat “badtime” story. This illustrated poem is fun to read to your bedside companion or to little children. They have to be brave, weird, or downright freaky kids though, which is a good thing to be. It’s also very suitable to be performed round the ol’ campfire or over a can of apple cider.

I turned the poem into a 17-page screenplay with the help of STC! And guess what? I like the movie better than the book.

Under The Apple Tree is currently in pre-production. I finished the animatic and am looking forward to directing a bunch of incredibly talented stop-motion artists.

Isn’t that amazing? I am 44 and I am exactly where I wished I was when I was a kid with a super-8.

I’ll be posting on the process of filmmaking in Holland on Facebook: