Interview: Miriam Kruishoop

Miriam Kruishoop
Director, Writer and Producer.

Miriam Kruishoop graduated from the Rietveld Academy in Holland and won best short film in Holland during her 3rd year. She lives in LA, works as a scriptwriter, director and producer. Her film ‘Greencard Warriors‘ went on to win the Latino Film Festival in Los Angeles, currently she’s casting her upcoming movie ‘Juveniles’.

Is Hollywood what you expected it to be?
The American Dream is a marketing concept. You can put any country in front of the word ‘dream’, or replace dream with nightmare. There are many people that don’t make it here. It was a concept to get immigrants and fill up the country to make it an economical success. But it is my home. I lived for years in NYC, but LA is more my jam, the business and I love the beautiful weather.

How is the American mentality different from the Dutch?
It’s very different but it suits me. When Americans want something, they make it happen. It’s very tough and they have a totally different cultural style. There is never an excuse. Of course, they take it to the next level where some people are so wired, but generally speaking, I really appreciate the work ethic and fast response. The only downside is that you will just never hear from them if it’s a ‘No’, Europeans are a bit more elegant.

When I wrote the script for Greencard Warriors, I walked around with it for eight months before showing it to anyone. What if they thought it would be terrible or I would get laughed at? That didn’t happen though.

How did the script move forward?
I sent it to one of my good friends who is also in the business and he brought in two producers. They sent out the script to agencies and actors. The window was very small because it was low budget, we found Manny Perez who wanted to do the movie. The organization Homeboy Industries helped us. The response was really good. We shot the whole movie in 18 days, only two takes of every scene. I still don’t understand how we did it. But I am a gambler.

Some directors leave a lot of room for inspiration. With such a short amount of time, can you do that as a director?
I know what I want. If you have the time and money to do 30 takes, you can play around with improv. With less time and money it’s up to the director to convey a very clear vision. You have to be very subtle to get actors where you want them. They have to trust you. Filming is constant improvisation. Making a movie, it’s an emotional thing.

What is a typical Kruishoop film?
I think I evolved from the self-indulgent to the outcast that really struggles in society. My earlier movies were more self-involved, but that is partially what happens when you go to Rietveld. We all have a role in society; you can’t just be self-indulgent and make elitist French movies. We live in the real world, with real problems and real struggles. This is my way to address those issues.

Can you tell us more about your new film?
The film is called ‘Juveniles’. It’s based on a documentary that I saw about two girls, 13 and 15 in a juvenile detention center. Their struggle and story is amazing. The mother of one girl was a prostitute junkie who was incarcerated her whole life; she never lived with her parents and most of her life she was locked up. The other girl was 11 years old and stabbed someone in broad daylight, you don’t just do that. I found those girls, gained their trust and I bought their life story.

It’s so relevant with everything that is going on right now with all the racial tensions; the problem is the system is messed up. You’re 15 and you’ve been locked up for four years, and when you get out; where do you go? You have no parents. 80% of the kids that go through this end up dead, back in jail or on the street. The system likes that because they make money. There is an urgency to tell these kind of stories.

Interview by Hidde de Vries & Carla Lekkerkerker
Illustration by Lea Embeli

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