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The Directors: HALAL Wunderkind Camille Boumans on Being a Gen Z Director

Production Company
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Director discusses being curious, having fun and finding inspiration everywhere

For many directors, their early days of filmmaking live in distant memory. Not so for Camille Boumans, who – at 22 years old – shot straight to directing success before even finishing film school. After spending her childhood years shooting with a supermarket camera, during her studies Camille started moonlighting as an editor and director on commercial projects. She quickly made a name for herself for stylish ads across the biggest brands in sports and fashion, letting her quit her studies to become a director (and editor) full time. After editing for a series of projects with HALAL, Camille has since become a mainstay in Amsterdam’s hottest production studio. She is celebrated now not only as a vibrantly young director, but also for her snappy, fast-paced directing style – partly a result of her background in editing.

Name: Camille Boumans

Location: Amsterdam

Repped by/in: HALAL

Awards: Nominated for Young Guns 19 & Best Music Video at Netherlands Film Festival 2020

LBB> How would you describe your personality?

Camille> I’m curious, and very interested in other makers – looking at them, talking to them. I’d like to think I’m also quite patient, and easygoing. I don’t worry so much about the process – it basically all feels fun! That’s important, that I’m having fun, and I hope people feel the same when they work with me.

LBB> How would you describe your own style? Is there a common element between your projects so far?

Camille> So far my style is quite similar to my editing: it really appeals to a younger generation. I remember my grandparents told me that a TV commercial I made went a little too fast for them – it was all collages, a bit experimental, young, fast. Which I like to do, from the point of editing and directing: fast cuts, etc.

From a narrative point of view, I feel like there is still a lot to learn. A lot of that is life experience, and I have more of that to get! That will grow. For now, narrative is mixed into that fast-paced, fast-stories, collage style.

LBB> Was there anyone or anything in particular who inspired you, within or beyond film?

Camille> I do watch other directors – I think that’s really important. Frank Lebon I think is really nice, who also does quite experimental stuff, adding photography to film. But to be honest my inspiration comes from everywhere and everything really: magazines, documentaries, memories that I have…

LBB> Which work are you most proud of so far?

Camille> My first really big directing job for a global campaign was for shooting adidas this month with HALAL. That was my first time shooting abroad, with a big team of around 30 crew. I was really happy about that one – it has come out almost exactly how I’d imagined it! It’s crazy when you’re flown to another country with a lot of people and spend two weeks on something that just occurred to you at the dinner table! It’s crazy how it’s possible to get so many people to go along with that idea. That’s normal in film, of course, but it’s still insane to me.

LBB> Tell us more about the adidas campaign

Camille> We believe that underwear should embrace your body and let you sport, hang out with friends, and feel beautiful, all together and all comfortably. This exact feeling is what we wanted to capture. The enjoyment you have with your friends, which sounds obvious but this all starts with feeling comfortable within the first layer: underwear.

It was really nice because of the heritage and history behind the brand, and because adidas is really diverse in the films they make. I felt very free in creating a concept and not limited. We had some discussions regarding the script, but in the end it’s almost the same as in the treatment we sent.

I worked with DOP Sam Vis, who also shot Ace & Tate. It was my first time working with him. He shot digitally and on film, 50/50. I hadn’t directed analogue, so that was quite different! It worked out really nice – I think he did a great job.

LBB> Do you get nervous, as such a young filmmaker working on such big projects?

Camille> No, so far I haven’t got nervous. Maybe because I don’t have 10 years of experience, I haven’t encountered all the things that could go wrong yet, haha! And I’ve always had a really great team with me. So there’s been nothing to be nervous about. And I love what I do, I think that shines through. 

LBB> You started out as an editor – how central is the editing process to your overall filmmaking process? 

Camille> Very. When I write, I don’t really do scenes but rather work frame by frame. I’ll write like “00:00:00–00:00:02 this is what the camera sees”. Really timecodes, rather than scenes. So I’m writing more as an editor than a writer. This makes it a lot easier to edit later on, though it’s a lot of information – maybe too much detail for some people! But this way of working is hyper efficient and I feel like this is the best way I can get the things in my head down on paper.

LBB> As one of the youngest creators at HALAL, you have been described as a ‘Gen Z filmmaker’. How much do you identify with that label and the generation?

Camille> It doesn’t matter so much to me! It doesn’t bother me if someone calls me a Gen Z filmmaker, but it’s also not like I think about it like that – or about how the generation thinks. Because I am that generation. That’s how I think! I’m living this generation, I’m it - I’m not observing from a distance. That makes what I do quite authentically Gen Z I guess. It’s not a pose.

For me, these labels don’t matter so much – the important thing is that you do you. It’s more about style than belonging to a certain generation.

LBB> How do you work with actors and models to get the right performance?

Camille> I think it’s most important to just show them what you’re looking for – run if you want them to run. But I’m better at showing than explaining. For me, it’s all about getting on eye-level. 

LBB> How did you come to work with HALAL, and how has that been? What makes HALAL different?

Camille> Working with HALAL was already on my mind even back when I was 17. Back then I emailed a lot of production companies for advice about internships – I didn’t even dare ask directly for an internship, because I thought HALAL were too big for that! They’ve always been on the top of my mind.

It’s really the projects they do that speak to me: a lot of fashion and music, but also commercial stuff. And those three are my favourites to do. It’s a certain kind of commercial – with an international look and feel to it like Nike, adidas or other cool or streetwise brands. That’s more my thing. And the other directors are just great.

Plus all the projects they do, they do it at an insanely high level. That’s really visible. In the Netherlands, they’re in a league all to themselves!

LBB> Which part of the filmmaking process do you most enjoy, which do you think you’re best at, and which do you struggle with the most?

Camille> Being on set and shooting it is the best part. And cutting the first edit is also awesome because you see the footage for the first time. That’s when you really feel like you’re making it. There isn’t really a part that I don’t like – because so far I’ve only had good experiences! There can always conversations or different perspectives when working with a wider team of clients and stakeholders, who sometimes don’t agree, but that’s part of the process – it’s part of the deal. 

LBB> How do you think people would describe what it’s like to work with you?

I hope they’re happy! I’ve never had a complaint! I really enjoy it and I get the same feeling from others. It doesn’t feel like work… So far I’ve always worked with a nice crew, so it feels more like a group of friends making a film together. I think that’s important.

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Camille> I had some people who thought I was a boy, from looking at my work. That’s not so much of a problem, perhaps it is all the sports, the colours, or just the look and feel.

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

Camille> I think that is still to come! 

LBB> How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?

Camille> Well I guess I’m basically a pandemic director. My directing career officially started during the pandemic, though I had directed before. So the restrictions are not especially new to me – having a Covid manager on set, for example! 

LBB> How do you see your future?

Camille> It’s very bright, haha! But I’ve never been too busy thinking about that – I’m really focusing on projects happening right now. If it comes, great – if not, well hey. 

LBB> If you had to give advice to someone else coming into filmmaking, what would you say?

Camille> Don’t wait on something big like a briefing from a big brand like adidas. Just start with the tools you have, with a camera from a supermarket or whatever. You don’t need a lot to make a lot.

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