Sara Roos

My name is Sara Roos and I'm an independent photographer, filmmaker and visual artist based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I have finished my Bachelor of Fine Art studies at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU) in 2023.

I like to describe myself as a storyteller. My (audio)visual work mainly revolves around experiences that many people share, but which are not often talked about in our society. I tell those stories in a way that conveys the emotions I personally felt going through that experience, but leaves room for other people's own interpretation. It is important to me that the spectator can make their own connection with my work, in any way. It leads to interesting and sometimes much needed conversations. These conversations often lead to understanding for ourselves and one another.

Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
'Het Begin van Groeien' (The Beginning of Growing) is an experimental short film about growing up and feeling different in an environment where that is not accepted and appreciated. The protagonist of the film gets left behind, even though she tries to change herself for the people around her. Throughout the film, she goes through the motions of learning to accept herself for who she is and eventually braves the road to self-expression with the help of a chosen family. Movement, music, lighting, color and fashion tell a story about the duality of finding your own identity after being told to tone it down or hide your personality from a young age. 

The Beginning of Growing posterjpg

The story is based on my personal experiences growing up with undiagnosed ADHD and just being 'different' in general. I had to put on a metaphorical mask every time I wasn't alone in my room. I had to create many alter egos for different scenarios and different people, just to try and fit in. I never succeeded at that and lost who I was in the process, before I had the chance to even start forming my own identity. The ending is where I feel like I am now: finally surrounded by safe people, ready to figure out life and myself.

What are your ambitions with your project?
With this project, I want to start a conversation about what effect loneliness can have the development on one's personality and identity. If you can't feel safe with the people you're surrounded by, how can you feel completely safe within yourself? I want to show people that they're not alone in this struggle and everyone goes through it at some point in their lives. It can get better and it's okay to go and look for 'your people', even though it can be intimidating.

Film stills-HBvG 7jpeg

Tell us something about your shooting. What pleasantly surprised you?
For this film, it was important to me to work with people who have had similar experiences in life in relation to the story. It was amazing how everyone came together to tell a story that resonated with all of them. You could feel it during production, during the practicing with the dancers and of course the shooting days themselves. Every single person in my cast and crew has felt the shame and loneliness of being outcasted at some point in their lives. What surprised me is how quickly everyone connected on a personal level because of this. It brought a kind of trust and excitement between everyone I hadn't seen that often on film productions and sets before. Everyone felt it was important to share this story and gave it their all. I'm very thankful for that.

Cast photo-HBvGjpg

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
'Het Begin van Groeien' was made for people who are struggling or have struggled with developing their own identity because of shaming in the past. It's for people who have felt outcasted in a group they felt the need to be a part of, but weren't fully accepted in. It's for people who are afraid to take the step to becoming who they really are and don't know where to start. It's for people who are free in who they are, know who they are and want to give a helping hand to those who aren't there yet. It's for people who want to feel safe and loved.

Why should distributors buy your film?
Identity is a very prominent theme in the art world right now, but the way I tell this story is quite unique. The use of dance makes and lack of dialogue makes it stand out from most films in the current film world. It's a mix between film, theatre, performance and fine art. Everyone can relate to the story in their own way, because though the film guides you through the story, the lack of dialogue leaves room for your own interpretation and feelings.

Film stills-HBvG 2jpg

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
As a filmmaker and photographer who has been educated to be a visual artist, I don't shy away from abstraction and experiment. The use of colour and movement is something that has become quite prominent in my work. I've been told I make films with the point of view of a photographer, which is quite true. I never literally tell the viewer what the story is about while they're watching my work. I let the visuals and speak for itself, which leaves room for your own interpretation of the work. In this I would definitely say those aspects characterize it this film too.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I became a filmmaker, because I had a story to tell and film is what the telling of that story needed. The first time I made a short film, I had no clue what I was doing, apart from my experience as an artist thus far. All I knew was that I had been through something that kept repeating itself in my mind and I needed to let it out. I needed to talk about it without actually having to talk about it. I needed to show what I felt in a way that words couldn't conceive. I needed to process my feelings and understand myself. My camera and audio recorder were my tools to do so. Filmmaking became a form of therapy and a way to connect with others for me, which it still is today.

Who is your role model?
I have several role models for different purposes. I like the oddness and use of colour of Wes Anderson. I love Greta Gerwig's themes. Marina Abramovic made me appreciate the use of silent psychology, as I like to call it. Rory Pilgrim, who I'm proud to say I've worked for a few times, inspired me to look in a different way at filmmaking. If you've seen their work, specifically The Undercurrent, you can probably see why. Besides filmmakers, I look up to photographers like Carlijn Jacobs and Tim Walker. Both of them are not afraid to tray from the typical.

Which movies are your favourites? Why?
This is probably the hardest question you could ask me, as the answer changes all the time depending on how I feel and what I need to see to relate to. Sometimes I'm in the mood for an old artistic film. Sometimes I want to watch an intriguing film by Wes Anderson or Tarkovsky. Sometimes I just want to watch a Pixar film, a guns blazing action film or a cheesy romcom. They can pull on my heart strings in their own way.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
Like most artists, I am inspired by the world around me. My films are often about something I've been through myself or something that others close to me have experienced. I tend to think of new projects after having had conversations with close friends. I also get inspiration from other artists. I often feel filled with inspiration when I've been to the Stedelijk Amsterdam Museum or FOAM. I've thought of my best ideas while taking a shower, so apparently that's when I process all of that new information.

Which topics interest you the most?
Currently, I'm most interested in topics around that are very important and yet hugely ignored in society. Topics such as identity, grief and the kinds of relationships people have with each other and themselves.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
Okay, so most people wouldn't consider this their greatest achievement, but it's a personal one. When graduating, I showed this film to hundreds, probably more people. I was there for a few days. I've had the most wonderful conversations. My greatest achievement was when an artist, a woman in her 60s, came out so impressed and emotional she was lost for words. I could see the film deeply touched her. Now, I've had people cry during and after watching my films before. But the look in her eyes made a huge impact on me. I'll never forget that moment. That a woman that I had never seen before and knew nothing about could be so touched by my film was very special to me. We talked for about two hours after that. We talked about the film, about life and about the importance of art. I hope she's doing well.

What do you consider most important about filming?
To me, the most important thing about the filming itself is having the set be a safe and fun space for everyone. I take good care of my crew and cast. If everyone is feeling good and comfortable, you'll get the best results. The best shooting days are when everyone is tired, but excited and happy at the end of the day. Another very important thing is working with a skilled DOP who is on the same creative wavelength as you. When I'm working with a bigger crew and I'm only the director, not the DOP too, I have to fully trust my DOP. That way we can all let the creative juices flow without having to worry about if the framing of a certain shot will actually be as planned, or that the most important close-up isn't out of focus.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
There is no best technique of shooting. It all depends on what story you're trying to tell and what emotion you're trying to awaken in the viewer.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
I think a lot of beautiful, inspiring and touching films are being made these days. Though it does seem like a lot of (short) films are going for the same look. I'd like to see more variety in style on film festivals. People are missing out on very intriguing films, just because the colors of those films aren't moody and soft enough. Films that deviate from the current standard are shown less often, which is a shame. Though it does depend on where you look, of course. I've noticed a big rise in appreciation for bold colors on social media lately.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
The lack of thought behind the story. Making a film just because you want to win a film prize or make money always is visible, I think. There's something special about a filmmaker really being able to relate to the story that they're telling and having a purpose with telling it. If that's lacking, the film can feel off or empty. What can also disappoint me is simply put, bad editing. That's a logical one of course, but if a film feels like it's just a few shots put together or the colour is completely off, it just feels unnatural and less captivating.

Who supports you in your film career?
Everyone who I'm close with and everyone who I've worked with. I've been getting a ton of supportive messages and reviews lately, which I'm very thankful for!

What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive, which I'm very grateful for. Especially during exhibitions where I've also been able to build the installation around my film. The installation really makes it a complete experience that makes the real world disappear. As a filmmaker and artist who works with sensitive themes, you of course always hope that your art will make a real impact on people, so it's been a wonderful experience. During one of the biggest exhibitions so far, I had some people I had never met before actually come back on another day, just to see it again. There was a very quiet and polite man who came back two times. I'm still a bit sad that I didn't get to talk with him, as I was already talking to other visitors every time. Some people told me that experiencing in the installation and watching the film felt like a kind, safe and understanding hug, so I can only hope he felt that too.

Film stills-HBvG 8jpeg

Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
I have recently visited the Dutch Film Festival (Nederlands Filmfestival) and their Talent Day for young filmmakers. It was very inspiring to go to several talks by filmmakers, producers and collectives. I've learned a lot and met a ton of likeminded creatives, which was fun. Seeing some of the films was amazing too, of course.

What are your future plans in filmmaking career?
I'm planning to continue to do what I'm doing: telling stories I want to tell. I'm working on a new simple short film I've shot with one of my dancers from 'Het Begin van Groeien'. It's a film about grief of what one's youth could've been, instead of what is was, in relation to a neglectful parent. I'd also like to go even further in my use of abstraction and experimental footage and dancers mixed together in the future. Once I feel like I'm ready for my film after this one, I'm going to apply for grants and the like.

In the meantime, I'm working a lot on my fine art and fashion photography too. I've you're curious to what I've been working on lately, I semi-regularly post on my website and Instagram!

Film teaser:
Film page on my website: