"We are, as a species,
addicted to story.
Even when the body goes to sleep,
the mind stays up all night,
telling itself stories.
Let's celebrate ourselves
as storytelling animals.”
- John Gottschall
Telling stories: it is at the core of what makes us human. As an 11-year-old boy, I wrote my first sort-of-book that carried the all-encompassing title 'Africa'. Decorated with photos cut from travel guides I described the romantic image I had of the continent and fantasized about all the life that takes place there. Full of clichés and without any nuance, but the narrator in me was awakened from that moment on.
In 2010, after my studies in anthropology and tourism impact, I set out to shoot my first documentary film. It became Framing the Other, a film about the invasion of tourists at a tribe in southern Ethiopia. I indulged in this adventure without a degree in film, it was simply a story that had to be told in a visual way. And with success: the film was screened at over a hundred film festivals worldwide and received multiple awards. The fantasizing boy with his unnuanced book had grown into a full-fledged storyteller.
Since then I craft documentaries and journalistic (travel) programs for various broadcasters and streaming platforms. In addition, I also create commissioned films for companies and NGO's whose vision I share.
I see myself as an all-round filmmaker with a focus on directing. I have also taught myself technical skills, from camera operating to sound recording and editing. I also own my own filming equipment and edit set.
Besides filmmaking, I gained ample work experience in the development sector. As a communication designer at Butterfly Works I designed social campaigns, educational materials and new media forms for development organizations. I also trained local media professionals in storytelling and in technical film skills, from Afghanistan to Zambia.
In filmmaking, I translate big themes and complex issues into visual personal stories. By means of a show-don't tell approach, I always try to take the viewer into a world that was previously unknown, or that provides a new perspective. I also believe in the power of the personal, the small, the intimate. Personal stories of individuals have the power to move, to stick, or to leave an uncomfortable feeling. This way of filmmaking has the power to make a real change.
© 2023 Willem Timmers