Between the visible and the invisible

Reinier Noordzij (1981) studied direction at the Theatre Academy Maastricht (2007). He has since worked as an assistant director on the production of ‘Closer’ by het Nationaal Toneel, as an actor in various productions and as a casting director at Kemna Casting. He embarked on the Master of Film Programme in 2009.

‘Writing and directing for film and TV is the course I have chosen. I learned a great deal about actor direction in Maastricht, where the programme is good, broad based and highly disciplined. And although I enjoy working with stage actors, I have always had this urge to make films. If the stage is my best friend, then film is my one true love. I am highly visually oriented and keen to tell stories using images.

From theatre to film

How? I believe in the power of mystery between the visible and invisible, the volcano waiting to erupt beneath the surface. That which is left unsaid. I am eager to learn how to adapt an image with such surgical precision as to enable the viewer to penetrate this mystery. After all, it is the mystery that ultimately determines what happens. The suspense that this force field provides is excellent material for a camera which can look through the eyes of a character like an X-ray machine, deep into one’s soul. And there, in the very depths of the soul, lurks the humanity which often makes stories so particularly poignant, funny, painful or unpleasant.


Today's visual culture appears to lend obsessive significance to the exterior. A lot – a helluva lot – is assessed on the basis of visible performance; cameras are literally omnipresent. I prefer to concentrate on things that are perhaps not readily apparent, on people you might not immediately view as winners. I want to give those who appear to have achieved very little so far a voice.

Tragic, yet comical

I have a particular fondness for people who are not what they think they are. This can be tragic, but just as easily comical. If I succeed in telling the story of one particular case with sufficient precision, then I trust that I can simultaneously come up with a universal story. This is the thread running through the three work products and the essay I aim to complete in order to graduate.


In November, we made a short film, the script for which I wrote myself. It is a sort of Pinteresque story about the difficulties of an obsessive devotion to social status. However, we also shot a documentary on the creation of a dance production by a cast of mentally retarded actors. I was keen to examine just how aware the actors were of the things they were doing. And in particular the effects of the distinct lack of social mask on the interaction with the counsellors. And to conclude, I am currently writing a short pilot for a TV series, which we are going to shoot this summer, as well as a bible containing the outlines for the first season.


I benefited a great deal from attending a seminar held by Robert McKee in London. Film Academy funding enabled me to finally fulfil this wish which I have harboured for such a long time. McKee triggered a great deal of awareness within me with regard to scriptwriting for the cinema and TV. ‘Story is a metaphor for life’, he said, ‘but not life itself…’ He devotes a great deal of attention to the significance of the core value of the story: The insight into the key question of what the ‘soul’ of your story really is. And finally, the importance of a penetrant character. I was deeply impressed, in much the same way as I was by the workshop given by Molly Stensgaard, Lars von Trier’s editor.


This programme, especially after the first six months, has been absolutely wonderful for my personal development. I have been given the freedom, the resources and the expertise to pursue my own learning objectives. It is both important and pleasant to be able to account for what I am doing in this regard and what the results are. This calls for discipline, but I am graced with that ability. I am really so happy that I am learning how to continue to acquire a deeper understanding.’

February 2011

Reinier Noordzij

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