Jeroen Krabbé makes Krabbé not only look for Kahlo. We asked the creators about their most memorable moments during the creation of the series.
Romantic revolution and threat of drug gangs
– Richard den Dulk, director and editor-in-chief
With the whole crew, we spend hours folded up in a rickety bus, and we see the hills of the megacity of Mexico City give way to beautiful scenery. A mighty bean stew from the night before bothers me and I feel every bump in the road.
We drive through an area where it is beautiful to camp and hike. Our fixer grew up here and tells how much fun his vacations used to be. Now it has become life-threatening because of the drug gangs who don’t want snoopers. As a journalist, our fixer has been in contact with all the major drug cartels and says that the director he worked with had been shot during previous filming.
In the atmosphere of blood-thinning stories, we arrive in picturesque Patzcuaro with its traditional red houses with large covered courtyards and markets full of steaming pans. Two people from the crew are sick, including myself, and we quickly crawl into bed. My room is next to the kitchen, and when the dishwashers finally stop banging at night, preparations for breakfast with the unforgettable beans begin not long after.
The early alarm clock is a relief and we set off towards the mountain lake. For the first time in Mexico, it is quiet and we only hear the birds chirping. With an old tour boat we simmer on the deserted lake. Frida also sailed here with her guests. In this case it was Jacqueline Lamba, the wife of surrealist André Breton and the Russian refugee communist Trotsky and his wife.
Jeroen talks about the beginning of the love affair between Frida and Jacqueline, but something else also happens. These two women are gaining ground against their husbands who take themselves extremely seriously. Frida and Jacqueline pull together and talk about the position of women in Paris. We all swoon like a crew when we hear about this romantic revolution.
When the sun goes down at the end of the day and I want to take some driving photos, the fixer says it’s time to stop. As often I pretend I didn’t hear and let the cameraman Dave take another shot. Then the fixer dryly tells me that five young men were murdered here last week, and I understand that this is serious. It’s an abrupt end to a romantic day.
Shooting at ten degrees below zero
– Susan Wolthuis, producer
In the summer of 2015, I started collecting the red Volvo from the South of France as a young person, before Krabbé is looking for van Gogh. It has slowly evolved into assisting production manager Marleen on various trips to follow-up seasons and has grown into independent production. So I’ve known the crew for a number of years. They have seen me grow up, and I have been able to experience how they became even better adapted to each other each season.
We lived in Detroit in February 2022, where it cooled down to -15 degrees at night during that period. When we started filming in the morning, it was still -10 degrees for the first few hours and we fought a hard battle with the freezing wind. After a long day outside, we sat with numb hands over a well-deserved dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
There we talked about all the special (weather) circumstances that we have been exposed to in recent years. We reminisced about the previous trips and everyone showed old group photos on their phones. We laughed a lot about that. The comparison: then still young and beautiful, now reading glasses and a few gray hairs longer. Fortunately, no one has lost their sense of humor and we still have just as much fun.
This 7-episode series took 27 months to complete.
Corona has changed the entire planning 5 times.
At least 37 books were fought through for the research.
There have been 78 meetings about the series.
Someone had always brought cakes (by appointment) to those meetings.
7 script versions of each episode have been made, so 49 versions.
An average of 4 days per episode.
There are about 40 pictures in each episode.
“I wasn’t into art at all.”
– Jacco den Hartog, editor
Including Krabbé looking for Kahlo, I have now been able to collect four of these beautiful series. At first I didn’t really like art that much (except for music), but I certainly didn’t mind either. So when we started, for any art term that was a little more complicated than ‘pencil’ or ‘brush’, I took a quick look at Richard (the director) to understand exactly what it meant.
And so Richard, strangely enough (in his own words!!) found me the perfect editor for this series. Occasionally a text was added that gave me and hopefully the viewer a bit more explanation, but usually the meaning should be clear from the context of the story. In particular, it was not allowed to look like an educational program. The structure of the series seemed to work, because it was interesting not only for the real connoisseur, but also for a layman like myself.
And slowly I was drawn into the world of Picasso, his women and his work. While we were editing the second episode, I heard the story of Picasso’s ‘Les demoiselles d’Avignon’.
I was fascinated by the idea that paintings should not only be beautiful, but also convey less pleasant emotions. And then a well-filled bag of quarters fell on me. Finally I understood what could make all those paintings so special. I felt like the 14-year-old again, hearing punk music for the first time and realizing: we don’t need to color inside the lines at all! In fact, it gets interesting when we make our own rules.
Since then I’ve been sold and I drag my wife in and out of the museum. Before she knew it, she was queuing at the Picasso museums in Paris and Barcelona, and we were the very first in Madrid early in the morning to visit the Reina Sofia museum all by ourselves for ‘Guernica’, just like Jeroen. .
It is no coincidence that I now increasingly suggest vacation destinations near museums that have works from the series. We will be going back to Paris soon because there seems to be a nice work by a Mexican artist in the Center Pompidou…
Contrasts and color
– David Vaessen, cinematographer
It was a long wait until we were back at Schiphol with our regular team early in the morning for the trip to Mexico. We hadn’t been able to see each other much because of the Covid period, but there we were. Finally! Full suitcases filled for three weeks of filming in Mexico. The hunt for the story behind Frida Kahlo.
Immediately on the first day of shooting in Mexico, it was clear to me as a cameraman in this series(s) how colorful it would be. With Día de Muertos, we were steeped in Mexican culture on this first day. And it was premium recordings with recordings. So much colour, atmosphere, culture.
The beauty of this series was again the contrast in image and story. From the young Frida to the fragile and valued older Frida. From hot and colorful Mexico to raw and cool Detroit. From historic San Francisco and New York to Paris, which is so familiar to us.