wwnwok soner arslan behind the scenes

A behind-the-scenes look at ‘What We Didn’t Know About Cows’

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We followed director and filmmaker Soner Arslan during the making of his latest film, capturing the essence of creativity and humor that defines his work. Through the lens of our behind-the-scenes exploration, we witnessed the blend of satire and reflection that Soner brings to the mockumentary genre.

What inspired the concept for “Wat we niet wisten over koeien”?
The idea came from a friend, Robert van Andel, who proposed the idea for a character that immediately sparked our imagination. We then sat down to think it out. Before the cow-themed narrative took shape, Robert embodied the main character ‘Ben’ in a series of short sketches. These sketches were real-world improvised interactions and scenarios, and laid the groundwork for what evolved into a more structured project. 

From the insights gained during the early experiments, I began to add more to the (back)story of character ’Ben’. As the story evolved, my vision for the film became clearer and more refined. It became clear to me that the film was not only to entertain the audience, but also provoke thought and discussion among viewers, especially in 2020/2021 when post-truth and questioning reality or facts became a hot topic. While I was adding extra layers to the story, I was inspired about themes that resonate with contemporary social issues, such as conspiracy theories, as well as the ethical considerations that filmmakers and journalists must navigate in their work.

What was the biggest challenge during the shooting?
The cows.

What was the most surprising aspect of working with cows?
It was harder than we thought.

How did you select or create the sound effects used in the film?
Many of the sound effects were recorded on-location. However, for more stylized effects, we either created them using foley techniques or selected them from libraries. 

How did you ensure the sound design supported the film’s themes of post-truth and ethics?
I believe by keeping it real. The style and genre of a mockumentary already blurs the line between fiction and documentary, so we tried to be as authentic as possible and start adding to it. That being said, the concept of a guy claiming to communicate with extraterrestrial life by using his two cows as amplifiers for a homemade radio sound system, don’t need a lot of sauce.

What feedback or reactions do you usually get from audiences?
Usually, audiences tend to believe the film is real, which is flattering, but at the same time a bad sign. It’s flattering because it suggests we’ve achieved a certain level of authenticity in our portrayal. It’s a bad sign, because it means we need to push the boundaries even further.

My goal is to introduce more provocative elements gradually, to the point where the same viewers who might have believed in the character’s reality at the beginning start to question its authenticity due to the increasingly bizarre or absurd developments. Hopefully, this shift challenges their perception of reality and keeps them engaged in a deeper way. I really need to step up my game.

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