Discovery Young Ambassadors meet the director of Prince


21 October 2015

One of the films we're most looking forward to at Discovery Film Festival is the UK premiere of Prince, not least because it's gritty, exciting and perfect for teenagers, but because it was chosen by the Discovery Young Ambassadors (DYA). The DYAs are our brilliant team of 15-19 year-old film enthusiasts who watch shortlisted films with us and help to programme the final selection of teen films at the festival. DYAs Rowan, Stuart and Erasmus were extremely excited to chat to Sam de Jong, the director of Prince, to find out a bit more about the film, and give you a flavour of what to expect.

Here's what Sam had to say...

Stuart: How does it feel having your first feature film released?

" I reflected on my own teenage years."

Sam: The release of Prince has been an incredible ride. For every single person in the crew, from the costume designer to the producer, this is their first feature; a collective debut. Worldwide, audiences and critics have embraced it, which is the ultimate reward. 

Erasmus: Where did the idea for the film come from?

Sam: For the story of Prince I reflected on my own teenage years. Ayoub, the protagonist, learns that chasing a material dream is not the road to success and happiness. On the contrary, he loses everybody that is dear to him. A realisation I had around that age. 

Rowan: The film's visuals are incredibly striking and colourful, why did you choose to portray the story in the way you did? 

"It's hard to compete, but it doesn't mean we can't try."

Sam: The movie eventually exudes optimism. All the characters are resilient and forgiving. They may not be affluent, but they have each other, therefore I felt the movie had to be colourful. 

Stuart : Do you think it's hard for foreign language films to attract an English speaking audience?

Sam: Yes. There are so many A-class English language films which are made with much more means. It's hard to compete, but it doesn't mean we can't try. In the end, it's a love hate relationship. 

Erasmus: I'm Dutch myself, and I wanted to know if you tried to incorporate any particular parts of Dutch culture in the film?

"I used the soundtrack to create this fairytale like world."

Sam: I tried to tell a story about a world I'm familiar with and the wants and needs I know. I'm Dutch, so I guess parts of this story will feel authentic to Dutch audiences. At the same time, we don't have any original culture. Everything in Dutch popular culture is derived from the U.S. From music, to movies, to fashion. For me that is Dutch culture. We copy everything, but we don't originate. There's great tragedy in that, and I hope Prince elaborates on this. 

Rowan: The film's soundtrack is unforgettable. How important is music in a film to you, and how do you go about picking the right tracks?

Sam: Music communicates with the viewers' subconscious, which is key in filmmaking and all other arts. While writing the screenplay for Prince I stumbled upon the music which I ended up using in the film. The most obvious choice would be to use hip-hop as this is the music the kids in the film listen to in real life. Because I wanted to create an enhanced reality, a world beyond realism, I used the soundtrack and music to create this fairytale like world. 

Be sure to catch Prince when it has its one-off screening at this year's Discovery Film Festival on Sat 7 November.