Home » Interview Jan de Bont (English version)






















Born in North Brabant on Wednesday, 22 October 1943 in Woensel (part of the municipality of Eindhoven), Jan de Bont emigrated to America in 1976 and started his career as a cameraman. Jan filmed the documentary 'Speed ​​Fever' in 1978 and in 1981 he was involved in the films 'Private Lessons' and 'Roar'. In the latter film he was attacked on the set by a lion. As a cameraman, Jan was in 1982 involved by 'Breach of Contract' and 'I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can'. In 1983 he collaborated on the film 'Night Warning' and was further involved at 'Cujo', 'All the Right Moves' and the tv-movie 'Sadat'. Jan was in 1984 partly involved in the film 'American Dreamer' and in 1985 he filmed the tv-movie 'Heart of a Champion: The Ray Mancini Story', the Paul Verhoeven-movie called 'Flesh & Blood', filmed for the music video 'Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour' the introductory scene, was still the cameraman of the movie 'The Jewel of the Nile' and was an extra cameraman in the film 'Mischief'. In 1986 he filmed the films 'The Clan of the Cave Bear' and 'Ruthless People', while in 1987 he was cameraman by 'Who's That Girl' and 'Leonard Part 6'. Jan was in 1988 the cameraman of the movie 'Die Hard' and filmed 'Bert Rigby, You're a Fool' and 'Black Rain' in 1989. He filmed in 1990 for 'The Hunt for Red October', the tv-movie 'Parker Kane' and 'Flatliners' and has been a member of the ASC (American Association of Cameramen) since the same year. In 1992 Jan was the cameraman for the films 'Shining Through', 'Basic Instinct' and 'Lethal Weapon 3'. In the latter film he had a very small role as a Dutch cameraman. Furthermore, in that year Jan filmed an episode of the fourth season of the tv-series "Tales from the Crypt". In his career as a cameraman, he worked with many big names. With directors such as Richard Donner, John McTiernan, Joel Schumacher and Ridley Scott. Actors such as Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, William Baldwin, Robbie Coltrane, Sean Connery, Bill Cosby, Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, James Earl Jones, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Louis Gosset Jr. Liam Neeson, Sam Neill, Joe Pesci, Oliver Platt, Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman, Stellan Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland and Bruce Willis. And with actresses like Madonna, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bette Midler, Julia Roberts, Rene Russo, Sharon Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kathleen Turner and Dianne Wiest.


In 1994 Jan decided to take a different approach and made a beautiful directorial debut with the film 'Speed'. The cast consisted stars like Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper and Keanu Reeves. For his second film from 1996 he directed Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in 'Twister'. Jan directed Sandra Bullock for the second time in 1997 and Willem Dafoe and Jason Patric in 'Speed ​​2: Cruise Control'. Besides from being responsible for directing this film, this project also meant his debut as both a writer and a producer. As an executive producer, Jan was in 1998 involved in at film 'SLC Punk!'. In 1999 he released his fourth directing film, 'The Haunting', of which he was also the executive producer. The cast of this film consisted stars like Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, Owen Wilson and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Jan was in 2002 involved at the films 'Minority Report' and 'Equilibrium' as a producer. His fifth and most recent directorial film dates from 2003, 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life'. Here, Gerard Butler and Angelina Jolie were on display and besides the direction of the film, he also designed the opening credits. Hereafter Jan was also executive producer of the film 'Thoughtcrimes' in the same year. In 2012 he was the executive producer of the film 'The Paperboy', while Jan was the cameraman of the film 'Nema aviona za Zagreb'. He was nominated for a Saturn Award in 1995 in the category Best Director for the film 'Speed'. Jan de Bont is a very busy man, but for Perry van Moov.nl he gladly made time.


001.What is your favorite CD and why?

        It is very difficult to name one, but at Neil Young's CD 'Harvest' I is still keep very good memories. When I was young, I made a lot of video clips from

        famous stars. For this I traveled over the whole world and this was all commissioned by German television. One of those journeys was a solo show

        of singer Neil Young in 1972 through Canada. I then got to know him pretty well. We were only on stage together. He as the only musician and I

        filmed him with my hand camera. Most songs are on the CD 'Harvest', so I think that's why I love that CD so much.

002.What is your favorite song?

        I do not really have a favorite song. I still like to listen to the 'famous' rock and roll songs from the years 60 and 70. But sometimes I also listen to

        modern music, jazz and classical music.

003.Do you ever play music just before filming?

        After a long day I like to have music on in the car. I get very calm of it. I can get all the busy activities of filming that day let behind me. In addition, it

        also helps me to recharge for the new filming day with new scenes that will be difficult to pick up.

004.How important is music in your life?

       Music has always been very important in my life and it is something I really love. But sometimes I also like silence very much. When I go on holiday

       with my family, I prefer to go with the sound of nature and sometimes listening to local music. Since there is always so much music in my films and

       life, it is very nice to have times without music. Then I can appreciate the music even more again.

005.How important is music in your films for you?

       Music is a very important element for films. I already use classical music when writing a film script. This softens my mood and does not distract me.

       When I am in a foreign country I am trying to listen to local music there as much as possible. That way I can discover something for the film I am

       currently working on. It is also an important thing to tell a part of the story and to support it. You can play music to get you in a mood for a particular

       scene. You can also prepare the public for a big action scene or a dramatic or emotional moment. It all starts with finding the right composer. This is

       just as important as casting the right main role, since the music plays a similar role. After so many years in the profession, you know which composer

       is most suitable for the job and wants to give himself for the full 100%. The film music can be completely disappointing if the composer does not

       believe in the story or if he think’s that his music is more important. When all the elements of a movie do not match well, then did you make a mistake.

006.Who is your favorite singer (man or woaman) and/or group?

       I still love the music of U2 and love their singer Bono.

007.What is your favorite sport? And do you also practice a sport yourself?

       I like to play basketball myself and I am a big fan of the LA Lakers. But I also love school basketball. In addition, I will never miss a match of the World

       Cup football.

008.Since 2004 you be linked to the movie 'Meg' and since 2007 to 'Stopping Power'. How is it with these two films?

       The film industry is, like many others, in difficulty. At the moment it is very difficult to get money for movies. And the little money that is available is for

       the films that are in the summer holiday. These are mostly films based on comic strips or comedies. A lot of other films are then pushed aside. The

       last few years I have worked on two films of which the production company lost money or went bankrupt. So I worked on 'Meg' for a long time. I really

       like that project and to be honest, I hope so that movie can ever be made again. The company that owned the rights of 'Meg' was New Line.

       However, they went bankrupt, just at the moment when we wanted to start with the production of the film. Whenever something like this happens,

       there has to be a new production company. The project must then wait, sometimes for an indefinite period time (it is now known that the film 'The

       Meg' is going to the cinemas on Friday the 10th of August 2018 run in the direction of Jon Turtlaub, with Jason Statham in the lead, ed.). 'Stopping

       Power' took place in Berlin in Germany and was stopped because the German producers of the film went bankrupt. This happened precisely when

       we started filming. Very sad, because it was a very good story. We had a big cast and the film could be very commercial. However, when such thing

       happens, you can not do anything about it, since the production company Is the owner of the film. It is, of course, very annoying and depressing, but

       it happens to a lot of directors currently.

009.Who from your time as a cameraman was the easiest to work with?

       To be honest, I was very lucky tob e able to work with in my career as a cameraman with so much different and talented directors. As a cameraman

       you must understand what each director wants and respect. If you do not, it will never be a good project. With Paul Verhoeven I have worked at the

       films 'Flesh & Blood' and 'Basic Instinct'. He has been at the top of my list for years and has been the most favorite director. But I also have built up a

       good friendship with Ridley Scott from 'Black Rain'. What I really like is when directors get well prepared on the set and know what they want to. This

       way they can communicate their ideas about a scene well. And good being prepared is a lot of work. There are also directors who are a bit lazy, they

       see what is going to happen. Sometimes that works and sometimes it does not work. For example, the film ‘Shining Through’ was based on the book

       by the writer Susan Isaacs who was edited by David Seltzer into a film script. Besides that, David was also the director of the film. However, he was

       so fixated on what he self had written, that he did not realize that there was a lot of duplication in the story.

010.On which film of you are you most proud and/or do you keep the best memories?

       As a Camerman I really like 'Die Hard' from 1988, 'Black Rain' from 1989 and 'The Hunt for Red October 'and' Flatliners', both from 1990. This is

       because they are all slightly new visually and added the original to the story, which was very daring for that time. There was nothing according to the

       rules in a photographic way in any of these films. It was a challenge for me to do, but that's what I like the most. As a director, I am most proud of my

       film 'Twister' from 1996.

011.You sometimes hear that the film world is rather superficial. Are you agree with it?

       Directing a film can best be compared to a marriage, but then shortened and very intensively. You also encounter the problems and joy that you

       experience in a relationship while making a movie. However, everything happens at high speed. To take it easy or to feel sorry for someone is not

       time. The nice moments during filming last often no longer than a day, since the next day is very intensive again. When a movie then once is finished

       (sometimes after a year or even longer), the friendship that arose during filming also seems ove. Both parts then go to a new film set where new

       friendships are created. Fortunately, there are also people who are staying good friends after filming like Paul Verhoeven in my case. In general, the

       friendship seems very superficial in the film industry. This is because employees of a movie for years from your life can disappear before you see

       them again. That may be because someone works abroad or in very remote locations.

012.In how far is it a benefit as a director that you have been a cameraman yourself?

       The most important thing is that no one has to explain anything about it. What is needed for one technical scene, how long it takes before the light is

       arranged, how the camera will behave move and so on. I know all that by my own past as a cameraman. A lot of directors have no idea how that

       works and leave it all to the cameraman about it. It is very easy for me to work with the cameramen because I understand which problems they can

       run into. I can help him if he asks it or needs help. I am very easy in sharing my experiences with others people. Everyone has to learn, that's what I

       had to do myself.

013.The working relationship between the director and the players is known. But what about that of cameraman and the players?

       As a cameraman you have a very special bond with the players as he is often the only person between the actor and what comes on the big screen.

       It is very important that the players can trust him or her and they will eventually look good in the movie. Every actor is to some point extent and of

       course they all want to look good. Also when it is 4 o'clock at night. They then feel more ease making them feel better while they can concentrate on

       their acting. I hate it when players are filmed in a way that they do look bad, because that leads them away from their game. This happens fairly

       regularly and it is often the inexperience or laziness of the cameraman. It helps a lot as the director is informed with this. Then it is much easier to

       deal with the players.

014.What can we expect from you in the future in showbizz?

       There are projects that I work on, but unfortunately I can not say anything about it because it is not completely round yet.


Interview: Perry Krootjes