Interview with Filmmaker Yfke Van Berckelaer (LILI)

LILI was the winner of BEST FILM at the Female Film Festival in July 2020.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We made Lili as a reaction to #metoo. Or more specifically, a reaction to the reaction on #metoo. For me it was incredibly inspiring, seeing so many women (and men) band together and make a stand like this. So, it floored me when I would hear someone say that they thought this was just an overblown cry for attention because “It’s not that hard to say ‘no'”. I realized not everyone was understanding the situations these women were placed in. That’s what made us want to make Lili. We wanted to make a movie that would recreate a #metoo situation and show how vulnerable you can be, how trapped, and how hard it is to get out of. But then also show how far we’ve come as women and that we’re not going to take this shit anymore.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I walked around with a snippet of the idea for little over a year, just storing it in the back of my head. Then when I walked home one day the whole script suddenly took shape. From sitting down and writing it, up until picture wrap was about 3 weeks. Suddenly it all came together really fast, which was great. Then it was another couple of months before we were fully done, mostly because I had a lot of trouble finding the credit song, which turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

#metoo horror

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

To be honest we didn’t really have any, which has never happened to me before. We made it very quickly and everything seemed to magically fall into place. I got to work with an absolute dream team. The crew were wonderful and I still can’t believe I got to work with this cast. I wrote the script with Lisa Smit, who plays Lili, in mind and I knew she would nail it because she’s brilliant. I’m not even sure I would have dared make it if she’d said no. I also wanted to have a really good actor to play the Man. Even though you never really see him, I felt that having someone there would really bring out the best in both of them. Luckily Derek de Lint came on board. I’ve been a fan of his for as long as I can remember so I was definitely a little stars struck at first. The two of them were just magic together and it was so much fun to just see them go at it take after take.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was so nervous when it started but hearing everyone say so many wonderful things about the film made me both tear up and smile from ear to ear. Seeing people react to your film in the way that they did was incredible. It felt like everything we were trying to do and say with the film come across and that is the best feeling in the world. Especially now during COVID it’s hard to gage what the reaction is to something you put out there because you can’t see it with a crowd. So that people took the time to not only watch the film, but also comment on it really meant the world.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. What film have you seen the most in your life?

There are three films that vie for that spot. I watched The NeverEnding Story on loop as a kid. The Last of the Mohicans I’ve seen MANY times, once actually every night for a full week. And then there is Lord of the Rings which I just HAVE to see every time it screens big. Doing a LOTR marathon is kind of like my best day ever. Any time I see one of these films again I immediately get sucked in and it feels like I’m seeing it for the first time.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s a godsend! Really. My first film I spent days googling what festivals where are out there and how to submit to them. Back then you also had to submit everything physically. I spent so many days burning dvds, watching them down to see if they glitched, making a cover for each, and then going to the post office again with this giant bag filled with brown envelops with my film in them. Now you just upload everything and press a few buttons. It’s the absolute best!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Oh wow, that’s a good question. I think maybe Bohemian Rhapsody. When I got my first walk man (yes I’m that old) I stole my brother’s Queen tape and just listen to it over and over again. I also had a period in which I listened to I’m Going Slightly Mad a lot and I still do when in pre-production haha. So it’s probably a tossup between those two, but definitely a Queen song.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working on two feature projects right now. One, The House With The Six Heads is a historical home-invasion revenge movie based on a Dutch legend. The other, FOSFOR is a horror/fantasy. Both are thematically linked to Lili in that they are about female empowerment, so in the way they are all (twisted) sister movies.

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