Hans Peter Schepp is an Amsterdam-based filmmaker born with a true passion for capturing unique moments from an intimate and social angle. Having dedicated most of his life studying light and deepening the craft of cinematography, which fascinates him and gives him a sense of purpose. We wanted to know a bit more about Hans, so we asked him about his creative process and inspiration.
When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
My father and grandfather both used film cameras to capture their life stories. As a young boy, I would watch my dad's 8mm films and 35mm photos. My grandparents would capture medium format and 35mm photos, and some of them really inspired me. But I got it from both parents. My mother was a big observer of small details, a nature lover with hundreds of flowers in her garden. I think that light has always inspired me in general. Light means life, and by seeking it in my films, I aspire to live life to the fullest as a kind of therapy.
While photo means 'light' and cinema a 'moving picture,' I would say that I first got obsessed with displacing a reality into a photo that could be enjoyed later, while around my 18th birthday, I really felt like capturing motion to be able to share emotions, senses through cinema. One of my friends in the neighborhood, Maarten, shared this passion, so we started making our first short films. That was the start of a lifetime of devotion, almost like a craft you can't escape from because it defines you and keeps you sane.
Do you have a secret ritual before starting a shooting day?
Good question! Yes, I do! A few, actually. I like to wear really loose, comfortable clothes and do some deep breathing. And I recently added a cold shower, all to bring me to a state of awareness. Oh, and a nice coffee brew to amplify my excitement is key :).
What is your creative process in preparing for a stock footage shooting day?
First, it is research. I like to think in terms of storytelling; what visual story do I wish to tell? Is there something around me that inspires me? What emotion do I want to capture? Or a growing trend? I like to keep things close to my heart so they can be sensed in the outcome. It can also be thoughts about what colors to use or which details to insert like shades, reflections and textures.
When this becomes clear, I make a mood board and a creative treatment, with a shot list and the production needs. Of course, it can take months until an idea is filmed, but I consider my thinking part of the pre-production process - the visualization of new intentions.
Which Artgrid Story are you most proud of?
The stories of the ballet dancers Nancy and Donnie. It was such a pleasure to merge the arts of motion picture and dance and capture the sense of motion, which I could really feel while looking at it. It made so much sense, I have this with music and dance, it is so related to cinematography.
What usage of your footage is your favorite?
I was deeply touched when a Brazilian electronic music duo named Claxy contacted me - Clara and Gui, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (the country where my mother was born). Clara wrote me through Instagram that she loved the footage of the male dancer Donnie. And when she shared the music video 'Dancing Eyes' based on that story, I was in tears. I felt they totally understood my intentions and how their music merged both arts. Knowing that fellow artists enjoy my stories gave me a lot of energy to keep creating. How amazing is that?
What was the craziest experience you had on a shooting day?
In nature, when conditions are getting out of hand, it can get crazy. This was while I was filming in Iceland. My friends Kike, alba, and I enjoyed ourselves in hot springs in a valley when a snowstorm suddenly arrived. So we were sitting there naked under the hot water, and cold snowflakes were landing on our skin. It was so sensational that I incorporated this scene into my short film about Iceland. In a matter of 30 minutes, the whole Valley went from green to white, unforgettable.
What gear do you have on your wishlist?
Honestly, I have plenty of tools; I'd instead look to improve my storytelling. I have been tech-geeking around for a few years and still do weekly lens and light tests, and I love to film with anamorphic lenses. But hey, another lens is always nice, right? Like a 30-40mm FF 1.8x Anamorphic scope. Also, I'd really love to improve my light kit with a 1-2K Spotlight.
If you could choose any DOP/Director to work with, who would it be?
One of the most impressive documentaries I have seen is Latcho Drom (1993) by Tony Gatlif, with cinematography by Éric Guichard. It entranced me. The film is about a gypsy tribe's journey from India through Egypt and Turkey all the way to Spain. The imagery is mesmerizing, with amazing landscapes and music. Such wonderful, rich, colorful 35mm images, a rather simplistic storyline but with the full depth of nomadic life. I would have loved to be there to capture this.
What would be your dream project?
My dream project is to tell stories of people and places, travel, capture, and live my life. By mastering cinema, I hope to receive a call one day and dive into a feature film with top actors in front of my lens. I really love the project of The Revenant, with Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alejandro González Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, both from Mexico. It's a fantastic production, so bold and totally immersed in nature!
What would be your next filmmaking adventure?
I am currently working on a new project about cold therapy. It shows how things like cold showers and ice baths can improve our health and how this has become a part of people's daily activities. Last year, I was lucky to meet Wim Hof, the master of cold, the Ice Man, and film him for a documentary project. That experience inspired me to dive more into it! So icy shots on the horizon!