Irish screenwriter Hugh Travers is making a name for himself in The Netherlands, where a new Dutch film that he wrote, The Matchmaker, is storming the box-office.
The film is a warm, feel-good comedy about a son who is attempting to find a man for his mother. Benja Bruijning plays photographer and world traveler Chris, who ends up at home with his mother Marja due to a lack of funds. Ariane Schluter plays Marja: a socially active woman of almost 60 who is mainly concerned with the happiness of others. Other cast members include Loes Luca, Georgina Verbaan, Eva van de Wijdeven, Sanne den Hartogh, Annet Malherbe, and Kasper van Kooten.
The film is the feature debut of director Jeroen Houben, who was one of the co-screenwriters with Lotte Tabbers. It is produced by Lemming Film in co-production with Belgium’s A Private View. The film was made with support from the Netherlands Film Fund, The Netherlands Production Incentive, CoBO fund, Abraham Tuschinski Fund, and the Belgian Tax Shelter.
The Matchmaker was the second highest new entry to Avengers: Infinity War in the Dutch charts at the end of April, and has gone on to record over €620,000 to date.
We caught up Hugh Travers to find out about his involvement.
How did an Irish writer come to be involved in a Dutch film?
I was initially approached by Lemming Film to do a draft on a different, mostly English language project and we had a good experience working together. They then brought this project to me at a very early stage. It was the bare bones of an idea but I was really drawn to the idea of doing a romantic comedy-drama in which the main relationship was not romantic but was between a mother and a son. It offered an opportunity to do something familiar but fresh and explore family relationships as much as romantic ones. I’ve since begun work on other projects with Lemming so it’s been a fruitful relationship.
You don’t speak or write Dutch. How did you go about working on the script?
The Dutch all have perfect English so we worked in English initially and there was no language barrier at all. It was more challenging to nail the cultural differences. One that sticks with me was being told that public nudity is less embarrassing to the Dutch than singing in public. As production approached, the switch had to be made to Dutch. From then on, Lotte Tabbers and the director Jeroen Hoeben worked in Dutch and did the final drafts of the script.
And the Dutch seem to have taken to the film…
It’s great to see the film doing so well in the Netherlands. I was over for the premiere and it was a huge event. It went out simultaneously on 134 Pathé screens and 30,000 people saw it in one night. It’s been doing well with strong word of mouth since then. It’s got an all-star Dutch cast so that certainly helps. Being Irish, I wouldn’t have been familiar with the cast initially. But seeing the work they did on the film, it’s easy to understand why they are so successful in their home country.
Any chance it’ll make it over here?
Hopefully, there will be an opportunity to catch it at some Irish festivals down the line.