Yfke van Berckelaer

Born and raised in the Netherlands, Yfke grew up wanting to be a magical princess. Disappointed by the lack of magic in the world, she became a writer/director instead, so she could create her own fairytales. She has a BA and MA in Film History and Theory (2003) from the University of Amsterdam and an MFA in Film Directing (2006) from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Yfke has directed award-winning films like the zombie musical ZOMBIE LOVE, the horror documentary XANGADIX LIVES!, and the #metoo horror LILI. She also wrote and directed for the Dutch Comedy Central series DE MEISJES VAN THIJS and co-hosts the website www.burgerists.com which profiles exciting burgers in the LA area. To this day, Yfke still often wears sparkling pink dresses and waves a magical wand.

Alter Films


Q & A

Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

I’d love it if I was like Buffy, but I think in real life I’m closest to Shaun from Shaun of the Dead. They do both have great friends though!

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

When a spark of an idea hits you, it’s usually because something needs you to tell its story. The way you first approach it can sometimes not be the right (or even a terrible) fit for it. Usually a better way will present itself while writing, other times, you just have to put in a drawer and let it sit for a while until you (or the world) are ready for it. I do strongly believe that an idea grabs you for a reason and that there is a right story and a right time for every spark you have. So if something hits you, however weird it might be, don’t dismiss it. Trust your gut and follow where it takes you.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Absolutely. If the horror community were a group of friends, I’d be the one who is secretly terrified of everything and so tries to scare everyone else to hide that fact ☺

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

A lot of my inspiration comes from dreams and daydreams. In dreams you, in very strange and twisted ways, try to deal with everyday life, with the things that make you angry, happy, sad, or that scare you. The beauty of horror stories is that they always relate back to something, and I think that goes for dreams as well. So it’s a good place to go to find the things that are important to you.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

I’d immediately find Lili and try to become best friends with her!

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Lilith, Medusa, Hecate, Tiamat, The Nukekubi and the Xenomorph Queen. For the record, I don’t think any of them are actually villains, and I’d love to see how they’d shape the world

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Freddy, King, Practical (always and forever!), Post.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

I find really kick-ass talented people to do it for me! Rogier Samuels, who did the special make-up effects on Lili, is an absolute genius. I explained to him what I wanted to achieve, thinking it could never come to life, and he made it even more perfect than I could have ever imagined! I absolutely love practical effects because you actually get to hold all the weird creepy stuff that had previously only existed in your head. And Rogier is 100% the person to make that happen. Walking around his workshop is like walking through a nightmare, in the best possible way ☺

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

Almost everything scares me, snakes, sharks, heights, social gatherings with a dress code. I’d never put those in a script though because I don’t ever want to be on set with a snake. The themes I deal with in my movies mostly come from a place of anger, often brought forth by how people treat each other. I’m not physically strong, nor an eloquent speaker, so molding these feelings into a story and giving that a genre twist is my way of expressing myself and fighting back.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’

I absolutely love The Shining. On just seeing one frame of that film or hearing one note of the score, shivers immediately start to go down my back. The horror movie I’ve watched the most, though, is probably Shaun of the Dead. The way they play with the genre while never losing the heart of the story is just pure genius!