What life lessons are hidden behind the geraniums?
Everyone gets older, but no one wants to be old. We associate old age with
loneliness, decline, and not mattering any longer. And that’s a confrontation
we’d all rather avoid. In our society, elders are placed in homes where their
stories are rarely heard.
Documentary makers Nicholaas Veul (30) and Tim den Besten (27) still have
their entire life ahead of them, but they do wonder what their future holds in
store for them. That’s why they take a peek into the unavoidable: they decide
to live in a home for the elderly for one month to get in touch with the elders
of today. Eye in eye with another generation, the two young men research
what it’s really like to be old while reflecting on their own lives. What can they
learn from the elders of today? And what new insights can they gain into their
own lives when they’re confronted with the finality of it all? How do they want
to age, and how do they definitely not want to grow old? What is truly
important in life?
In this social experiment, the two worlds of the young and the old collide and
we get to know our elders through the eyes of the younger generation. How do
they want to reflect on the life they’ve lived when they’re older? And what wise
lessons are hidden behind the geraniums?
The documentary makers, Nicholaas and Tim, are two friends with a
remarkable chemistry. They’re personalities are opposites: one is impulsive
and an extrovert, the other is more philosophical. They dare to speak the truth
about one another and never hide their opinions, simply because they just
know each other that well. This is crucial for the series, because they’re not
supposed to be two presentors; they’re supposed to be able to freely
communicate with one another to discuss the growth their going through in the
Why one month? The most important aspect of the series is that the creators
build a bond of trust with the inhabitants of the home. Because we want the
elders to be able to speak openly and freely, it’s important that they feel
comfortable around the creators and we show them that they take it all very
seriously. They really want to get to know them and don’t choose the easy way
out by walking in and leaving at the end of the day.
Continuing on the above, it’s crucial that the creators film everything (including
themselves) and that there is no camera crew in the home that could interfere
with the intimacy and personable atmosphere. Because it stays so small and
intimate, the inhabitants ‘forget’ that there’s a camera at a certain point, and
talk even more freely than before. The camera is easy to use and sounds is
caught through the usage of transmitters and a directional microphone to
ensure there is no need for a sound engineer. There are loose, moving camera
images without the style getting sloppy. The content is what counts. The
creators do get an intensive camera course if they aren’t familiar with the
TONE OF VOICE
The creators have conversations with the inhabitants, rather than just
interviewing them. That way, there’s a mutual respect when listening to each
other while also showcasing the creators’ vulnerability. This subsequently leads
to personal connections that result in special conversations. Of course some of
the conversations are scheduled and prepared ahead of time, but the creators
still have to be open to spontaneous moments that might or might not happen.
The creators are sympathetic and interested, but also dare to be challenging
and critical. As long as the inhabitants are treated respectfully, it actually
works rather well to occasionally provoke the elders with humor and wit. The
creators need to, in this case, have an intelligent sense of humor.
The episodes are thematically constructed. In each episode, a different theme
is central. These themes are subjects the creators are personally struggling
with. These themes are a guideline for the conversations with the elderly