Premiere for Videoland Academy documentary

21 February 2022

Lachgaskoning Deniz: De Afterparty


Premiere for Videoland Academy documentary

21 February 2022

Marthe Naber Heuer had a feeling that, behind Amsterdam’s infamous ‘laughing gas King’ Deniz and his million euro fine, there were more layers and more stories that deserved a documentary series. Videoland Academy gave her the opportunity to delve deeper into the mind of this elusive persona – thug, misguided, or both?

“My wild party years are behind me, but party animals that are rough around the edges continue to intrigue me. For my YouTube-series Marts Vlammende Vragen, I followed Deniz, the nitrous oxide king of Leidseplein for one day and half a night. Above all I wanted to know: why do you do this? In contrast with the rough streets you found this PR machine. He was with his best friend Hamza at the time. Deniz sent me a text a few weeks after the episode. Hamza had died of heart failure, potentially caused by nitrous oxide. I immediately sensed what I wanted with this project. Then the call came in from Videoland Academy and that’s when I knew: this is my chance.”

How happy were you with the set theme?

“At first, my proposed plan was primarily for a story told through the eyes of a boy whose best friend – who had accumulated a fine of a million euros – passed away. A nice departure point for a documentary, but still a bit meager. The set theme was ‘family’, and that gave me a sense of direction because it raised many questions within myself. What did his next-of-kin think of him and what haven’t we seen from Deniz yet?”

Do you feel the programme has helped develop your talent?

“Yes. By nature I am more of a director and a maker that would rather just take a bunch of questions and hit the streets. Now I was forced to first write and formulate a vision. That is tough, especially when you can’t wait to get started, but I have noticed that this focus really helps in choosing what you want to highlight and what you want to let go of. Twenty filming days also isn’t an eternity, so it’s important to know in advance what you want to shoot. 

It’s also worthwhile to have your own crew for your film plan, like with writer Daniël Samkalden and documentary maker Simone de Vries. You feel supported and at the same time you feel loads of freedom. Another nice aspect is that my ‘network’ – a horrible word – has really grown. Buma Cultuur, for example, hosted sessions at the Nederlands Film Festival where you as maker could ‘date’ other young up-and-coming composers. The goal isn’t necessarily to find the love of your life, but it is about how you can present your series briefly but vibrantly so as to give the composer on the other side a real impression. I found the diversity of composers and their openness and enthusiasm really great. The biggest spark I had with composer Charley van Veldhoven. When I told her about how this project needed sick beats, she immediately came up with a bunch of ideas to collaborate with another composer, Merijn Berge. This really is the first time in my career where exclusively I could choose which people to work with. This freedom and trust really helped me to develop myself more autonomously than ever before.”

What does the future hold?

“I now have in mind another interesting main character, again one who is rough around the edges, but this is still in its research phase. I am also asked already whether Deniz will want to have a sequel, or a fourth episode. Overall I notice that I do still have the will, the energy, and the focus that I initially needed for the start of my first productions.”

Which other Videoland Academy project are you most looking forward to?

In all the plans of the other participants I saw ‘guts’ as the common denominator. That is what I find genius about Videoland Academy: guts to present your own original stories. So I’m looking forward to all the fiction films.” 

Which film do viewers of Videoland need to watch after Lachgaskoning Deniz to get the ultimate double bill?

“Honestly? Don’t watch a film after the series, but rather take a walk or stare at a wall for a bit. That will really give you time to think about what you just saw and to let it get to you. That would be the most beautiful to me. And if another effect will be that people stop taking those capsules: yes, please!”

Find the series on Videoland

Videoland Academy is a talent development programme for young genre filmmakers with commercial potential. With Dutch streaming service Videoland as the destination, IFFR collaborates with International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF) and Dr. Script to take projects from idea to reality.

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