Ellen, a young Dutch woman, sets off on an adventurous journey to the end of the civilization. In the snow desert of Spitzbergen, she spends the polar winter with the trapper Lars. Cur off from civilisation the two very different people have to learn to get along with each other.
how often do you wish for an interplay of life, work and experience. maybe even adventure. with “when the light comes” this wish came true for me. my agency at the time sent me the diary novel “waar blijft het licht” by heleen van der laan, telling me that the book was to be made into a film and that they would arrange a meeting with the producer and director. for practical reasons, we met in a train station pub in amsterdam. the producer was from the netherlands, the director from belgium, and i was from cologne. the story was quickly told, and the two of them proceeded to explain to me the expected conditions of the shoot. filming location svalbard / spitzbergen. exclusively. 78 degrees north. two months in winter with twenty-four hours of absolute darkness and slowly returning light. one month in summer with twenty-four hours of daylight. expected temperatures in winter down to forty degrees below zero. studio shooting in existing hangars, everything else outside, in a landscape that looked like it belonged to a distant ice planet. a team with twenty nationalities. living in old mining engineer’s quarters of the nearby coal mine. container architecture. catering a problem. alcohol strictly rationed by the state. but it had already ignited. “when the light comes” was a once in a lifetime venture. i had to be there.
on the spot, first of all, all the problems that were to be expected, and those that none of us would have even thought of. the material went crazy, some of the participants coped better with the circumstances, some less so. however, nobody left. after eleven days, hardly a meter of film had been shot. oh yes, as far as the acting is concerned, maybe this: when i expressed some concern to the arctic-experienced production designer karl juliusson, he said: “don't worry joachim. you don’t play the island, the island plays you!”