Premiere: Ayla Spaans' "About Two Girls"

Welcome to the dreamy world of Ayla Spaans’ short films. The young Amsterdam-based director has an eye for giving all her pieces a vintage touch and a whimsical air. Having studied art and fashion in university, Spaans’ affinity for set-curation and styling is a noticeable trait in her films. Today we premiere the young director’s newest short flick, “About Two Sisters.” We spoke with Spaans on the creative process behind this film, her lifelong fascination with video cameras, and her age-old fear of dolls.

Tell us a little about yourself, for those of us who may not be familiar with your work yet. 

Hello, my name is Ayla Spaans, and I love writing, film-making, and Shakira. I’ve been enjoying my bad taste since 1991. Currently, I’m working and living as a freelance director in Amsterdam. Things in life that I admire; everything that gives me a nostalgic feeling. 

Give us three things we wouldn’t know about you, upon first glance.

  • I have 3 sisters and 4 brothers.
  • I find German the most beautiful language in the world. 
  • When I go to sleep at night I have to remove any dolls from my room because I am scared that their eyes will blink.

So how did you get into filmmaking?

From the age of eight, I was always busy filming with my dad’s VHS camera. My sister and the other kids acted while I filmed and thought about the story. The stories were pretty random for 8-year-old kids, stuff like a husband who kills his wife (haha.) I never realized that I wanted to do something with film, and it was only after finishing my fashion study I started experimenting with film and began my Bachelor of Arts.

Do you have a team of people you always enjoy working with or do you find it to be more of a solo task right now, with the assistance of other people?

I do enjoy working with specific people and love working together. For the concept phase, I am a solo worker. For this project we worked with a very special team: my best friend Yael Weiser (Art Director) with her lover Asaf Mendelovich (Title design), and me (Directing) with my lover Zeeger Verschuren (DOP). Everybody really brought something to the project, we made it all together.

 How did you come up with the concept for the “About Two Girls” video?

My sister moved to Cape Town when she was just 20 years old. After being away for 6 years, she spent the summer at my place in Amsterdam this year. Yael and I always talked about how pretty my house is. This time when Yael came over, she told me that she was inspired by how much my sister and I were in sync. So I wrote a script about sisters. About things that you experience with no one else like your sisters. And some things will never change, like that’s she is a morning person and I’m not. That we don’t need words to understand each other. It doesn’t matter how long we haven’t seen each other, once we’re with each other, we fight, laugh, cry and behave like sisters straight away.

 What was your favorite part of shooting it?

That my sister and I had a fight during the shoot and we had to act like we actually loved each other.

 Which directors were your biggest inspirations?

For shorts; Celia Rowlson-Hall (The End), Carolien Koning (Strange but true) and features; Fatih Akin (Gegen die wand), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster), Taika Waititi (What we do in the shadows), Olle Hellebom (Pipi Langstum), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)

 Your films are an explosion of color and always possess a very soft light and tone. What do color and texture mean in your films?

It’s a nostalgic feeling that I connect with colors and textures. Sometimes they feel shiny, bright, dark or see-through. Depending on the emotion of the story. I tend to go for a light and colorful palette, where the movie feels like a dress-up party itself. Embellishing the film to make it a feast for the eye, just as I do in real life. 

 How do you generally concept the narrative of all your short films?

Mostly they are personal experiences translated to visuals, colors and textures. It’s always something that’s close to me or has happened to me. 

Do you have any projects coming up in 2020 that you’re super excited about? Tell us about them!

Yes, I do, it’s a little less sweet and called ‘A boring day in hell’. A 5-minute fashion/horror short. It’s about a woman who is thinking of what she was wearing on the day that she killed her lover. 

In your dream scenario what would be your ideal project to work on? 

Actually, at the moment I am working on a dream project; a short film about the beach. It’s about unrequited love between two employees. For years I was working on the beach and this world just really inspires me, so I can’t wait to get started on that. I have more dream projects in mind, like a feature one day about a hairdresser working in the underground Berlin scene. But before that, I have many more things to learn and to make.

Stay tuned to Milk for more video premieres.

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