June 22, 2009 / 11:08 AM / 10 years ago

Rutger Hauer goes from android to arts teacher

ROTTERDAM (Reuters Life!) - Ask any American who Rutger Hauer is and they’ll likely remember his hallmark role as the artificial human Roy Batty in 1982’s “Blade Runner.”

Rutger Hauer, one of the stars of the film "Sin City" poses at the film's premiere in Los Angeles March 28, 2005. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

But for 30 young directors, producers and actors who are gathered here this week, Hauer is their ticket to the next stage of their careers.

It’s an unlikely combination in many ways - an actor best known for a role he played a generation ago and a crop of young artists who were still in diapers when the movie came out.

But in his home country of the Netherlands Hauer is a serious and respected filmmaker - a reputation he is leveraging for the third instalment of the Rutger Hauer Filmfactory, a 10-day masterclass with instruction from some of the movie world’s leading behind-the-scenes players.

“To me it made sense. I don’t think it made sense to a whole lot of people,” Hauer told Reuters in an interview on the first day of the Filmfactory program late last week.

As crews hustled to put the last touches on the production space the students will use to make their movies, Hauer buzzed around, his phone ringing incessantly and his schedule overflowing with last-minute details. But he made it clear he preferred that to the alternative.

“I could do nothing. This is the hardest thing,” said Hauer, who at 65 still has the sharp blue eyes and flowing blond hair that made him instantly recognizable to a generation.

But his methods are not stuck in the past - he carries around a small camera, not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes, that shoots an hour of digital video in high definition.

Give five people the same cameras and let them record a conversation for 10 minutes, Hauer said, with three hours of editing work they could have a serious and thoughtful short film ready to post on the Internet.


The lineup of those potential movie makers is a diverse one - a Danish commercials director, a German-Indian author and producer, an astrophysicist with a passion for editing and a soap opera actress fluent in four languages.

“This is not a class for puppies, this is a class for filmmakers who’ve already had a few serious jobs,” Hauer said.

But he’s not after perfection - far from it, actually. Hauer encourages students to make mistakes, many of them if needed, as part of the learning process. The things they do wrong, he believes, are as much a part of the art as what they do right.

“It’s an exercise, and all the mistakes they make, we love them,” he said.

Helping him shepherd the class through their mistakes is a broad lineup of coaches, including Oscar-winning producer Hans de Weer (“Antonia’s Line”) and Hollywood directors Robert Rodriguez (“Spy Kids,” “Sin City”) and Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct,” “Starship Troopers”).

Some of them will appear via live Skype chat on a video wall in the production facility - another of Hauer’s nods to both frugality and technology.

And once the class is over, Hauer will go back to his other projects — after 40 years on screen he is still working and has three pictures in the can, with plans to direct again in the near future.

But Hauer is working on what he calls the “puppies” too - he recently helped teach a class in Rotterdam for children ages 12 to 17, a group he intends to work more with to make films of their own.

“The purity of their innocence and arrogance is so charming,” he said with a wry smile.

Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Paul Casciato.

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