November 11, 2016 Interview – Nick Jongerius
When most think of the Netherlands region of Europe, they think of canals, tulips, and windmills. For centuries a vital part of the altitude-challenged country, windmills come with a ton of curiosity to outsiders, but how about interjecting a horrific twist on their lore? Setting out to accomplish the feat and bring a new spin to Horror cinema, Writer/Director/Producer Nick Jongerius conjured up the idea for such in his latest film The Windmill. A tale of murder, mystery, and psychological terror, Jongerius’ vision of Horror is prime for international consumption as it hit North American audiences October 25, 2016 via Xlrator Media. Recently we caught up with the moviemaker to talk his inspiration to work in film, the ideas behind The Windmill, the balance of different elements in Horror production, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in film in production and directing for some time now. First, tell us, what inspired you to get involved in film?
Nick Jongerius – Basically, it was Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) when I was really young. It had such a profound influence on me. I thought, “How did this work?” The music was so beautiful and it was very scary. That was basically my introduction to film and thinking about actually doing something with it.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. You have done other Horror films in the past including Frankenstein’s Army in 2013. Do you enjoy the Horror genre?
Nick Jongerius – Yes, I have a really soft spot for Horror movies. I am particularly interested in the fantasy part of the genre. I was never really a fan of realistic type Horror films. I am a big fan of Guillermo del Toro. I love the combination of characters and effects and bringing that all together. That is what really triggers me.
CrypticRock.com – The fantasy side of the genre is really fun. It gives you opportunities to explore things a little more opposed to other genres. Your latest film, The Windmill, is a mix of Drama and Horror. You co-wrote and directed this film. How did the project come about?
Nick Jongerius – I first looked at what arena could be interesting to do. When I did Frankenstein’s Army as a producer, I learned that American’s are really interested in the Dutch heritage, especially landscapes, etc. That really got me thinking what I find really scary and basically it was a windmill. I was born on a street called Sawmill Street, and there was a sawmill 500 feet from our house. It was a really ominous thing, what scares you also attracts you. It was always in my mind, and for us Dutch, it is really a normal thing, but maybe I could make it really scary. From there, I developed a concept about a realistic killer who slaughtered all these people, but then I got to think, “Is this the way I want to go with it?” That is where I thought what do I like as a director and what I want to see. That is why the story developed more into fantasy film.
Then, working with Daniel Hubbard (casting director), it opened up such a big pool of fantastic actors. I sort of had an epiphany during this whole process, thinking, “What if we can make this cast more interesting than just people who get axed into pieces.” From there, I developed the characters even more in the script. It also opened up a big opportunity to not make the scenes where they slaughtered just about slaughtering, but also about their emotional life, because that is what they get confronted with. I really liked that combination of Drama and Horror. I thought it needs to be something I could commit to 100%. Thankfully, my producers were behind me. We basically did what we wanted and I am really happy with that.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent. As you mentioned, you worked with a really excellent cast. What was it like working with this very diverse cast?
Nick Jongerius – It was great. When we did the casting, I also looked at it as a football coach because I knew I had to work with this ensemble and I could not give everyone the same amount of attention. I didn’t want too many divas on the set because it would disrupt the whole theme. So I really looked at what kind of person they were. For example, when Noah Taylor came on board, he had so much respect amongst the other actors. He was very supportive of the film. He did not speak much, but when he spoke he was always with us. Charlotte Beaumont had so much experience and is such a professional actress. This was her first big lead and she was so committed. I really sometimes miss it, despite all the hard work. I really have warm feelings about everything.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like a wonderful experience. The Windmill has been featured at film festivals, but as of October 25, 2016, it received a full North American release. How exciting is this for you?
Nick Jongerius – It is a dream come true. We made the film in English. Recently I saw it with a North American audience and they really get involved in the film, and I love that. Sure, there are some people that don’t like it, but everyone is so committed. That is so different than Holland, where everyone is really skeptical, especially a Horror film. It is about entertainment, it is about doing something for an hour and a half that entertains you. I think Americans really appreciate that. I am really excited about this.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be exciting, and more people are seeing it now since it has been a few weeks. What is also nice about The Windmill is it has gore, it has drama, but it also has a supernatural element as well. Was that something else you were trying to achieve.
Nick Jongerius – Definitely. The way the story is constructed opened up that opportunity. Chris W. Mitchell came up with the ideas of where everyone is in a confined space with the same dark history. I really like that idea. I researched several existing myths in Holland. I combined these stories. The supernatural element was tricky, especially with the CGI. Everything needs to feel as real as it could be. Like when Jennifer sees her father and is confronted again with him. We thought, “What if your sin was right in front of you and you can touch it.” To me, that was really scary. It is not about scaring people and making them jump out of their seats, it is more about the subconscious. Creeping into that, I like.
CrypticRock.com – Well it works very well, and hopefully more people give The Windmill a view. My last question for you is what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Nick Jongerius – My favorites are A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I’m really jealous of this concept. It’s so perfect. A killer that you can kill in your dreams and he can alter your dreams to get you is so cool. I also like John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). The film is the best in building the tension. None of the characters is attractive, but they are all interesting, rugged, and together they form such a beautiful ensemble. Special makeup effects have been discussed so often and so revolutionary; masterpiece. Another is The Devil’s Backbone (2001). I do not know exactly why, but I was just so moved by this story. It’s a Horror movie embedded in an interesting time historically. It looks great, the setting is surreal and so effective; the bomb in the square later used in Under The Shadows (2016). It’s seriously scary and the acting is top-notch!