Times New Dutchman #1

Entering Rotterdam
Thu 21 Feb '19

New PR Intern Eddie Smith presents his initial thoughts on Rotterdam and WORM, as well as outlining what he plans to do whilst here.

My first experience of Rotterdam was on a European holiday with my friends. After agreeing that Amsterdam was too expensive to stay, we travelled south, taking a coach in what I seem to remember as the dead of night. Upon arrival I was blown away. There is a fresh mix of new and old in Rotterdam that I found fascinating. The city feels as if every element has been designed to work coherently together. Perhaps this is because much of it was destroyed during the Second World War, leaving a large portion to be built back up from scratch in the years since. All remaining pre-war buildings now sit amongst a modern landscape, accentuating their archaic grandeur. Hues of red, blue and green emanate from some of the Netherland’s tallest buildings, looming large over tramways and the Westersingel canal. The people are relaxed. Why had we initially overlooked such a place? I recall thinking to myself at the time “I could live here, I want to live here”, as we wandered the streets of the city. A little over a year after that first trip and my aspirations had become reality; I was back here for good, alone.

After a month of settling in, finding a house, and not learning Dutch, I started work at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), as the image editing intern. The festival hosts 300,000 attendees each year, making it one of the biggest in the Netherlands. Despite this, the team was surprisingly small, comprising of around 100-200 people. Although the office ran relatively smoothly, it took some getting used to, as I had never worked in that sort of environment before. After a slow start, it ended up becoming one of the best experiences of my life so far, working so hard for so long towards one huge event. I enjoyed seeing the festival come into fruition, and knowing that I had played a part in it. To my surprise, one festival-goer even thanked me for how good IFFR was. From the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony almost two weeks later, nearly all of my time was spent watching films, having drinks and going to parties. I know I will look back on my time there fondly.

Unfortunately it was over all too quickly, with my internship lasting around 3 months. However I now arrive at WORM, in my new role as PR intern. Did I ever think I would work in PR? No. When I was kid I wanted to grow up to be Darth Vader. Times change. I first learnt of WORM about a year ago in peculiar circumstances when they followed me on Instagram. I was intrigued as it seemed like a hub for all the things I love; Film, music, art etc. There was a lack of pretentiousness that I was drawn to, in a space where there is often so much. Now I am here I don’t know what to expect from the coming months. I have been to gigs and film screenings at WORM as a customer (which you can read about here), but never known how it works on the inside. Already there has been talk of getting involved with video projects, exhibitions, surveys, gigs. Everything appears to be undertaken with a positive, chaotic, attitude, which has made it (at least initially) an exciting place to be. Although I’m still not entirely sure what my time here will entail, I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.

To help me with this, I am planning on creating an investigative documentary film during my time here, focussing on WORM itself. It will look at WORMs place in Rotterdam, and how the avant-garde fits into our modern society. I want the documentary to contain some kind of statement on creative freedom and expression, outlining the benefits of it to people who may be sceptical. The values of the establishment must also be revealed throughout. Visiting in person only goes halfway to deciphering just what WORM is; It describes itself as an “institute for avantgardistic recreation”, but what does this mean? The film will hopefully address this, delving into what happens here, and perhaps more importantly, why? Is there anywhere it can be compared to? The only way to fully explore the themes of the documentary is to throw myself into it, and get started as soon as possible. Interviews, archive footage, and original photography could all come into play, culminating in what will become the finished film. I’m still unsure exactly how to go about creating something of this scale, but I think the best way to find out will just be to begin, and let the process inform the outcome. I could spend months planning, but I know I would never stick to it. Creating something coherent may be a struggle with the madness that goes on here, but I’d rather make something incomprehensible than a promotional video. As I am becoming more and more interested in film and filmmaking, this seems like the perfect way to create useful material for WORM, whilst also enjoying a creative process. It is also a way to record my time here, and finally a chance to make film.

Times New Dutchman is written by PR Intern Eddie Smith, with new instalments published at irregular intervals over the coming months.