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The Directors: Damien Hope



Eyeforce director Damien shares his thoughts about his work, mindset and personal favourite projects

The Directors: Damien Hope

Some say Damien Hope was born in a crib made of celluloid. True or not, Damien has probably spent more time on film sets that the rest of our team combined. He started his career as a young actor, working on productions from as early as 1992. Since then he has evolved from actor to assistant-director on dozens of commercials and longer format films.

Damien has a sharp eye for emotive storytelling and beautiful cinematography, combined with a talent to let even small stories shine big. 

Name: Damien Hope

Location: Amsterdam

Repped by: Eyeforce in Amsterdam & Cape Town

Awards: Finalist Gouden Loekies (dank aan de Zorg 2020)

What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them? 

Damien> The cool thing is that every script is different. It’s always a new world with subjects you sometimes don’t know a lot about and this gives you the opportunity to learn something new. I always try to find angles I’d like to explore. Whenever something not so “fancy” comes in, I still try to challenge myself to look for anything interesting.


How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Damien> I find it hard to go one way and one way only, but I’ve learned to always stick to the story first. What is it that you want to tell? Not how amazing the shots are going to be. The idea has to be clear and that is my main priority.

After that I start to look for the cinematic approach. What helps me sometimes is that when I’m stuck or feel uninspired, I scroll through stills and videos I saved or even photobooks to get new ideas. 

If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Damien> It sure is important to do a bit of research, yet you don’t have to master it I guess. As long as you can translate and/or understand the feeling of the brand. I once wrote a treatment for a cryptocurrency company and decided to talk to a specialist to get to know the basics. This helped me a lot to understand this - to me - unfamiliar world.

What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

Damien> Right now I’m really loving to bring my passion for music more to the foreground in my film work. I just finished a short music documentary that brought both my passions for film and music together. We hope to make a series out of it. It shows  the artistry and dedication that lies behind musicians. Where does it come from? How much do they have to sacrifice to become as good as they are? The first episode shows Pablo van de Poel, guitar virtuose and extremely talented music producer from the Netherlands. I just finished the film and can’t wait to share this with the world soon…

What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

Damien> What I love about prepping and working on projects is that a lot always seems to be impossible yet I guess in the end you never see this on the screen when it’s finished. Shoes that didn’t fit the model that had to climb up mountains. The endless rain or a snowstorm during the making of something that should have a summer feel. A huge cruise ship in the background of the shot that must be removed. It just never seems to be undoable. It keeps everybody creative with what we have in front of us and that’s kind of magical to me.


How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand/client while also protecting the idea?

Damien> I see it as a relationship. You always have to adjust in some ways to come to something bigger than yourself or your own idea. In the end it’s not your piece of art but an assignment and for that I love to create work together. So whether it’s with creatives of a creative agency or directly with a client, in my opinion it can only get better if we work together and not separately. 

What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Damien> Yes I am. In fact I would love to see that film students get/take more time to go on sets before they start directing or shooting films themselves. I’ve learned so much from thousands of hours as a runner and later on assisting directors.

Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Damien> I always try to make sure I have that covered in pre production so during the shoot I can focus on my idea. Yet we sometimes have to keep in mind the framing for all formats and that sucks, but it’s the way it is. 

What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

Damien> I must say I’m not so much a technical person. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it or don’t use VFX. My key goal is to always accompany myself with a crew that has a lot of knowledge and experience. My DP I work with the most, Floris van der Lee, always helps me out when it comes to technical challenges or vfx ideas that I have. 

Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

1. Waternet - A short tribute film to bring awareness to the dykes of Amsterdam with a poem by Sef. 

2. Thank you caretakers - A thank you to all caretakers around the world after the pandemic started  (finalist Goeden Loekies)

3. First of August - A fashion brand film for a unique Amsterdam based clothing brand

4. Menzi - Inspired by a story on Drum Majorette girls in South Africa we set out to give this fantastic socio cultural phenomenon a bigger platform.

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Eyeforce, Wed, 09 Jun 2021 09:26:47 GMT