Niels Bourgonje (1980) is an award winning short film and commercial director based in Amsterdam.
Niels started out as an intern on the international feature film THE DEVILS DOUBLE which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. He graduated with the short thriller BURN, which was selected for several international filmfestivals winning numerous awards. His follow-up was the high intensity drama ORDER.
In 2014 Niels directed PEACE AND QUIET, winning the 48 Hour Film Project. Shortly after, the black comedy won two awards at the Filmapalooza in Hollywood. In 2015 he made three short films back-to-back; NEIGHBOURS, DESERTED and BUDDY. BUDDY has been selected for more than sixty filmfestivals worldwide, including Palm Springs ShortFest. This year Niels will release two new short films: TURN IT AROUND and SKOGAFOSS.
Turn it Around (2017) is about the courage it takes to kiss someone.
Giving someone that first kiss never loses it’s thrill and excitement. A universal subject matter that anyone can relate to, at any age. Imagine how thrilling and scary it must be for a fifteen-year-old kid. Let alone him kissing another boy for the very first time. No wonder our main character Bram is scared to death to make his move. Not only does he have to make himself incredibly vulnerable, Bram also risks losing his friends who have no idea what his sexuality is.
What fascinated me about the story, is the inability of our main character to communicate. At a party, with the volume turned all the way up, it’s almost impossible to have a decent conversation. And since he’s surrounded by friends and classmates, Bram is constantly watching his back. This atmosphere of excitement and anxiousness makes for an interesting arena to tell a very visual story of looks and movement.
The moments that are the most awkward tend to be the funniest. That’s why I wanted to make the movie very lighthearted and colorful. There are already so many movies that tackle the subject matter of “coming out” in an heavy manner. Being an eighties kid myself, American director John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club) made a tremendous impact on my life. His work always knew how to find that perfect balance between humor and drama. I have used Hughes’ films to inspire the film’s style. By giving the art direction an eighties American look-and-feel, combined with modern additions like popular contemporary music, I’ve tried to create a timeless atmosphere that is accessible to audiences of all ages.
Working with real teenagers presented a challenge. In collaboration with my director of photography we created a shooting style that enabled our young actors to move and act freely. Most of the actors had very little to no acting experience. This enhances a sense of realism that brings an interesting contrast to the very stylized surroundings.