the filmmaker

Rosie STAPEL (1971, Netherlands) studied at the Rietveld Academy Amsterdam and has been working for many years as a production designer, including for various films by Peter Greenaway. She teaches production design at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. Portrait of a Garden is her directorial debut.

Portrait of a Garden originally came forth from the desire to make a movie herself, as director, as cinematographer, as editor and producer. As a production designer Stapel used to work with teams of 10 to 15 people, but Portrait of a Garden became more of a solo adventure.

For her the movie was personal, besides a journey through the secrets of a garden it was also a discovery voyage through the process of making a movie. But above all it is an experience that enhanced her passion for making movies even further. 

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director’s notes

When I started filming in January 2013, the garden was still one big area yet to be discovered. 

My focus went almost immediately to the two men working in the garden, they might be able to give me greater insights into the workings of the garden. At that stage, I had little idea of how the film would develop, I didn’t have a strategy, my research was going to be the film.

When you are in the garden your perception of time alters, nature has its own rhythm, it dictates and I wanted to show that in the film. The garden unfolded for me during the filming process. Jan Freriks, the old pruning master, the gardeners Daan and Kate and others made me realise that a large part of the garden’s story takes place among them. 

The chemistry between Jan and Daan, the way they interact with each other, share their knowledge, their significant differences and the appreciation they have for one another, with the closing of the pear arbour that year as symbolic of their long-standing collaboration. 

The garden would not exist without the people that work in it. I realized while looking at the interaction between humans and nature, we have a significant influence on nature.

no crew

The decision to make a movie without a crew was not just a practical one, but it was also made because she wanted to discover all aspects of making a movie. During the shoot and editing she asked for the assistance of several friends in the movie industry. 

The Music in Portrait of a Garden, is mainly done by lutenist Jozef van Wissem, the Dutch minimalist composer best known for his work on Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. 

His music respire almost the same natural timeless rhythm as the garden and the two gardeners do..

Other Music she used is of modern cellist Julia Kent, Bioboy and Purcell’s ‘Sweetness of Nature’ performed by Deller Consort.

although Stapel did the sound recording during the shoot herself, the mixage and folley she did with sound designer Henk- Jelle de Groot.