Michiel van Erp
Van Erp (1963) created more than fifty documentaries, both for television and cinema. In the 1990s, he made a name for himself with Lang leve…, a long-running series in which ordinary Dutch people were portrayed in a special way, often with much irony (which is regarded as his trademark) and full of sympathy at the same time.
He filmed portraits of famous Dutch people, such as author Connie Palmen and photographer Erwin Olaf, but also Queen Beatrix and singer Mary Servaes. He made films about the funeral of Prince Claus and the relatives of the MH17 plane crash victims. A recurring theme is (sexual) identity. In I Am a Woman Now, Van Erp portrayed five women who underwent gender reassignment surgery more than fifty years ago. When asked ‘who is the successor of Bert Haanstra?’ Haanstra’s former cameraman Kees van Hin answered: ‘Michiel van Erp’.
In 2014, Van Erp caused a sensation with the television series Ramses about young Ramses Shaffy in 1960s/1970s Amsterdam. The series won ten (international) awards, including the Silver Nipkow for the best television programme and the Prix Europa for the best drama series. Leading actor Maarten Heijmans was awarded a Golden Calf and an Emmy Award.
When asked about what his characters have in common, Van Erp says: ‘They temper with the lives they lead and take up challenges. They pursue their dreams, they are brave. That often means they’re not in sync with the people around them, because they usually mimic each other. Ramses Shaffy was like that, his fire, his enthusiasm, his urge to live, and the willingness to take a deep fall for that sometimes, those are characteristics I admire and they are an example to me. I would never have become a filmmaker if I had kept in step with everyone else.’
In 2018, his first fiction film was released, starring Minne Koole and Hans Kesting, among others. Van Erp made a film adaptation of the novel Nobody in the city by Philip Huff, a coming-of-age story about a group of college friends trying to find their identity in Amsterdam. Michiel van Erp: ‘What captivated me in the book is that three young lives are completely shook up by a dramatic event. They are forced to learn that you have to make firm choices in life to really become happy.’
For several years, Michiel van Erp was part of the artistic team of theatre group Mugmetdegoudentand. With his adaptation of The wood by Jeroen Brouwers, he makes his debut as a director in the main theatre. Van Erp sees his directing for TA as a natural continuation of his drama production work. The themes of The wood combine perfectly with the themes he addresses in his film work.