Special Release: A Bad Trip (1999)

The latest release on my YouTube channel is the 17:13 minute short A Bad Trip (1999). One of the highlights of my career as an amateur filmmaker. I am currently working on the redux of another highlight, the feature length De Gako’s in Thailand (2001), but won’t be able to release it publically due to the extensive use of music (A Bad Trip only has three musical tracks that I have replaced by licenced music).

A Bad Trip is an in-camera-edited short about a drug user Sjakie (my old buddy Boris Bruin) who buys wrong pills from the local dealer Eddie (played by yours truly) and enters into a nightmarish trip. I have improved the edit by removing a few bits and pieces and adding the odd sound effect. I also added subtitles. It is one of the few fictional shorts that I have made that actually tells a complete story with a beginning and an ending.

Reviewing it today, 22 years later, I can see my lack of experience at that point. The camera work is of inconsistent quality and contains quite a few beginner mistakes, like jumping the line. However there are some very nice shots and camera moves as well as a bit of camera trickery.

The acting is – well amateuristic at best – but consider that we shot it in four afternoons and many scenes are built up from one-take shots with dialogues improvised at the spot. Since a lot of focus was on the timing of the shots (we had to edit in-camera, since I had no editing equipment at the time), the acting got far less attention.

What I like most about the short is the scenery from my childhood. Sjakie’s house is my parental house in Heiloo and all other interiors are the houses of my friends. The point-of-sale of dealer Eddie is the first school I attended. And the woods in Heiloo (my Heilooweed) have a unique atmosphere to them. I love those woods.

Working on this project has wetted my appetite for amateur filmmaking. It is still my dream to one day shoot Brainfood, which would be the biggest amateur movie ever attempted. It is about a race of aliens secretly invading the Netherlands to steal our drugs. Then a special military squad is ordered to find them and exterminate them. It is currently budgeted at 150.000 euros, so for the foreseeable future it will remain a dream.

To be continued, I hope….

A Bad Trip (1999, The Netherlands)
Directed by: Jeppe Kleijngeld
Cast: Boris Bruin, Ben Bouwens, Jeppe Kleijngeld
Length: 17:13 mins.

Sjakie buys two pills from dealer Eddie which cause a nightmarish trip. There is only one person who can help him get out of it…

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