“Usually you’re not allowed to jump around the set”
2 Dutch movies for the very young are currently travelling from festival to festival, addressing the audience in a particular tone. We meet with the main actors from both films.
FROGS AND TOADS is a musical adventure about 6 year old Max going on a quest for frogspawn. With his friend he walks through forests and fields, meeting so many animals: a wounded toad, a funny walking caterpillar, little pigs, a fox… With childlike simplicity FROGS AND TOADS shows a rather cuddly view on wildlife. The children are more ‘real’, overcoming the common obstacles of every friendship: compromises, honesty and forgiveness.
Nino den Brave (7, Max) and Whitney Franker (8, Jesse) are a golden duo. High energy bombs, impossible to cool down. Every single question is countered by 4 questions from their side.
Your film is screened in this festival (Kristiansand, Norway) with a voice over. Someone is translating your dialogues into Norwegian.
Nino: “What a stupid idea. Norwegian is such a strange language. Wasn’t it good enough the way we did it?”
Could you briefly say what the film is about?
Whitney: “About a boy meeting a girl and going on a trip to find frogspawn.”
Nino: “Frogspawn is the medicine for my brother who can’t talk. At the very last moment they told me it actually was all a joke. I found that so sad! All those months we worked hard to find the frogspawn and make that film and then it turned out one big joke! I hated it!”
Still, it looks like you had a lot of fun while making the film.
Whitney: “The most fun I had when we played in the rain and I got all wet.”
Nino: “The rain dance! And making pancakes! And the caterpillar walk! And playing with the fox. I cuddled him behind the ears. It was a bit scary too since he started growling.”
You look cute in your pink dress, but sometimes you had to play very severe.
Whitney: “I can be a catty girl. And I hate pink dresses. That’s why I was happy when in one scene I fell into the mud and was dirty all over. Except my face – I’m not that stupid!”
You also had to sing and dance.
Whitney: “We went into the studio to sing songs. That was easy. But for him it was difficult to reach the high notes.”
Nino: “Not really. Just a tiny little bit. (they start singing a song from the movie) And dancing was so much fun.”
Whitney: “I was allowed to jump around on the set with a real frog in front of me. That was great! Usually you’re not allowed to jump around the set.”
Was it real frogspawn?
Nino: “No, it was made of glass and glued to a spoon.”
Luckily everything always went smoothly…
Nino: “Who said so? In the pancake restaurant the frog jumped out of the bucket. Grandma – in the movie – and I had to chase him.
Whitney: “While filming in the sandbox it was so hot. Nino kept shouting: ‘piiissss’. Because the sand terribly stank like cat’s piss.”
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MORRISON GETS A BABYSISTER paints a truthful portrait of a family with all its good intentions and little failures. Morrison’s dad is working on cars in the garage and his mum is expecting a baby, Morrison feels threatened by the newcomer. Sometimes when getting angry he turns into Bumper, his frightening alter ego. While tension is rising, Morrison runs away, only coming back to… Steal the baby.
More grounded than FROGS AND TOADS, this movie is firmly anchored with both feet in Dutch polder-soil. And so is debuting actor Tobias Lamberts (8).
Tobias: “The movie is about my aunt saying the car is green while my father says it’s blue.”
And then you come and say it’s yellow!
Tobias: “Yes, I was supposed to say so.”
You always said it precisely how it was written down?
Tobias: “Yes, we practiced on the set with the director (Barbara Bredero) and then I had to do exactly the same in front of the camera.”
Sometimes you turn into Bumper, an angry little boy. Did you understand why?
Tobias: “No, I did as I was told. It’s only acting. I don’t even have to be sad or angry to play it. I use my face. I never knew I was a good actor until they picked me.”
You had someone on the set to take care of you?
Anneke Meijlink (Tobias’ mother): “In most children’s films the main character has a best friend or a neighbour girl. In MORRISON Tobias was the only child on the set. He had a chaperone; between the shootings they played games. Tobias’ sister was asked on the set as a stand in and to help out with the lighting. But that was rather boring; she quit after a few days. Tobias had a close bond with Barry Atsma, playing his father. They look very much alike as if they’re really father and son. Barry totally took pity on Tobias.”
A sacrifice for the whole family?
Meijlink: “The shooting was spread over half a year. By the end of the casting 4 candidates remained. In case of Tobias it was clear that he would persist. Even if sometimes he was picked up at 6.30 AM. I carried him down the stairs, sleeping. We flattened the front seat and putted down pillows and I putted him to sleep under a blanket, only to wake up on the moment they arrived on the set.”
You drive a lot in this movie! Can you really drive a car?
Tobias: “That wasn’t real driving. They took out the seat and I sat on the driver’s lap. There was a little camera so that he could see on a screen how to drive, or they filmed us from aside so nobody could see we were in tow of a car driving ahead of us.”
There were lots of animals on the set.
Tobias: “We filmed on a farm. Behind ‘my room’ was a stable. Sometimes the cows walked over the set. We stopped filming when a truck came to collect the milk because it was so noisy.”
The cat plays an important role too.
Tobias: “She was all blue! But the paint was washable. In the closing scene I jump into my dad’s arms while holding the cat on a leash. But the leash was too short. You can see the cat standing on her hind-legs because the line is pulling too hard.”
You like animals?
Tobias: “My sister and me both had a fish but my sister’s is dead, and we both had a cavy but mine is dead. On the last day of the shooting I got a present. I opened the big basket and 2 little kittens came walking out: a black and white one for my sister and a black one for me. I named him Morrison. I got a real ‘crocodile’ too (Morrisons favourite teddy bear), made out of old sweaters.”
I just noticed you’re not only a good actor. You’re also good in signatures.
Tobias: “Yes, I’m good. I have a beautiful signature.”