Lya Susanto chats with lead actress Tatjana Saphira about her role as Lintang in the Indonesian film Negeri Van Oranje. Tatjana talks about her filming experiences and her future projects in 2016. Lya spoke to Tatjana before the screening of Negeri Van Oranje at the Indonesian Film Festival Australia 2016.
Tatjana, please tell us a little bit about he plot of Negeri Van Oranje.
It’s about five people who are studying abroad in the Netherlands. They are all Indonesians, come from different cities and backgrounds. In Netherlands, they are all live in different cities. My character lives in Leiden and the others live in Utrecht, Wageningen and Den Haag. These five people they coincidentally meet and that’s the beginning of their friendship. As time goes on, their friendship becomes more complex because the four guys started to fall in love with the girl but then the girl is in love with the other one. So it’s basically about friendship and love, and finding the true meaning of love and friendship.
What inspire you about this character and to take up the role?
My character is just like a really nice girl who dreams of finding true love. In this movie I think my character has some sort of revelations and finally understands the meaning of true love and finds her true love. So, that’s one. I mean I read the book, I really love it – it’s actually really fun and light. It’s just about five people having fun together, living abroad in a country with a very different culture, they experience culture shock, they miss their homes and one of the ways for them to actually connect and feel like they are back to home in Indonesia is when they are with friends, right?
What was it like preparing for your role as Lintang?
For me preparation wise, usually we get time to prepare for the role for about a month. It is an important time for character development and during that time for me it is also important to build chemistry with other characters especially when the theme revolves around friendship and love, which are the main themes for Negeri Van Oranje.
So I spent a lot of time with other actors the month before the filming to prepare for the role. For me it is quite challenging because I am rather quiet and introverted in reality but in the story I have to be friends with these four guys I just met who are way older than me with totally different interests. The four of them just click right away so it was quite difficult for me to follow their dynamics.
But we had fun filming in Netherlands. It was spring but it was pretty cold still so it was rather difficult concentrating in the cold weather and strong wind. Especially for me because my wardrobe wasn’t meant for such cold weather. So it was difficult. But then again, it’s very interesting like what Tara mentioned this job allows her to learn new things everyday and it’s the same for me. Besides allowing me to learn new things, it has also brought me to many places that I’ve never been before so it’s been a fun experience.
Speaking of fun, travelling and filming overseas sure bring heaps enjoyable memories. Could you share with us some of your favourite scenes or places to shoot at?
Yes, it was really fun indeed especially because I have never been to Netherlands prior to the filming. It was my first time so it was definitely a very interesting and unique experience getting to visit all the landmarks there because we most of the locations we shot at were all popular landmarks in that country.
I mean like today, being here in Melbourne is also another unique experience. I wouldn’t be here if it were not for Indonesian Film Festival Australia and Negeri Van Oranje. So it’s definitely fun getting to meet new people because when I was filming for Negeri Van Oranje, we also worked with a couple of local actors from the Netherlands. It was fun talking and sharing ideas with them you know. I also heard a lot of stories about their film industry and experiences from them – what’s going on there right now, what the creative industry is like there and so on.
So in a way you’ve also experienced what your character experienced – being away from home in Indonesia to shoot the film.
Yes, I was away for about a month for the filming.
How about the language? Did you prepare a lot prior to the filming?
Well, actually not really. In the beginning we were supposed to take a course at Netherlands embassy in Jakarta, they have a place to learn the language there, but then after talking to a few students who went to school in Netherlands we figured that it wasn’t necessary.
They mentioned that we are required to know and be fluent at the language if we were planning to move there but if it’s only used to communicate with friends especially Indonesian friends, we don’t need the language. They just used it at school or may be just to go shopping and day to day conversations but other than that especially with other Indonesian people, they would just speak Indonesian. So, we didn’t really have to memorise any long dialogues. Just the standard “hello”, “good morning”, “how are you”, “can I have this?”, you know.
Earlier you mentioned how important it is to build chemistry with your fellow actors and it was quite difficult for you to fit into the dynamics initially. How did you manage it?
We did a lot of things actually during the preparation process. We did a lot of games and team building activities. We would often just go for coffee to catch up and share how we are feeling today, and then we would go watch movies. We’d just do random stuffs that best friends would do together.
What’s next for you in 2016?
Well, last February I just released another film titled, I Am Hope. It’s a movie about this girl who has to fight cancer and to live to make her dreams come true. And I have a movie coming up called Stip dan Pensil that is about a few rich teenagers in high school who are always discriminated by their peers and are always looked down upon. So they want to prove to their friends that they are not who others think they are just because they are rich.
Talking about school, I realised you are still very young.
Yes, I am 19.
Wow, how did you manage juggling between study and busy work schedules?
When I was still in high school, I would prioritise my school stuff first and not take on any role when there’s exams but I had just graduated last year. This year is actually my gap year. I need to take a gap year because I want to work, I want to travel and I want to collect experiences.
Yes, exactly. Actually me and my friends, we are trying to start a business from scratch. It’s been really fun as well. It’s just all about finding your priorities, knowing which one to put first and then sorting out your schedule to fit everything together to be able to do all that but still have the time for yourself. I think that is the most important part.
Thank you for your time Tatjana. We look forward to your next projects.
Negeri Van Oranje was screened at Indonesian Film Festival Australia 2016 at ACMI, Melbourne. Find out more about the festival at www.iffaustralia.com.