Ruurd M. Fenenga was born and raised in Hilversum, the radio and TV capitol of The Netherlands. His father, Ruurd M. Fenenga Sr. director / cinematographer shooting award winning commercials and documentaries from his film production company in Amsterdam, introduced his two son’s – twin-brothers Ruurd and Maarten – to the industry at a very young age. Ruurd Jr. wanted to learn as much as he could about the film-business and the art and craft of cinematography.
There was also a visual training from his father 😉
“I remember watching a movie, as a kid, with my father; a wide shot of a room with a clock, a c/u of a person, then my father would ask me what time the clock read to train myself in remembering visualization”.
After finishing college, Ruurd Jr. started as a trainee at the film laboratory of Cinecentrum in Hilversum. Following the training he worked at the film-equipment rental house of Holland Equipment in Amsterdam where he met cameramen who he started assisting, on commercials and documentaries.
Always being inspired by the U.S. and it’s film-industry, Ruurd decided to move to LA when he was 21 years old, earning $35.00 a day as an extra on various features, trying to meet people behind the camera. After putting his name under the 1st.a/c category list of the “LA-411”, he received a call one day to assist director / cameraman Barry Samson on a music video for the band “Bravin”. “He gave me my first break as a 1st.a/c, camera-operator and DoP”. Many years later I shot a movie-trailer for him, a period piece we shot in China. We brought with us Agfa stock and created a wonderful trailer, which is still on my website” called The Grand Canal.
For twelve years, Ruurd Jr. worked as a 1st. assistant-cameraman for Cinematographers like Stuart Dryburgh (“The Piano”), Bojan Bazelli, (“Kalifornia”), Frank Byers, ASC (“Twin Peaks”), Declan Quinn (“Leaving Las Vegas”), Bill Wages, ASC, James Glennon (“About Schmidt”), ASC, and his good friend the late Jim Weisiger (“Pushing Tin”) Spec. FX Unit, and assisted DoP / director Roger Tonry for many years on commercials and music video’s, if he was not occupying himself on being a focus-puller on features. Ruurd Jr. assisted on more then 30 features, “The Rapture”, “The Hidden” (“B”-camera), are a few of them, and the TV series “Twin Peaks”, lensed by Frank Byers, ASC.
In order to get more work as a DoP Ruurd started buying the Hollywood Reporter every Tuesday and the Daily Variety every Thursday, Ruurd mailed out 2500 résumés in one year, and received a lot of work from it.
“From those mailings I also received a phone-call from Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle, a director’s team, then located in Portland, Maine. “
Kyle called me one evening from Portland, and asked me if I would be interested to shoot the short “Pennyweight” for them, starring Ray Wise as “Mr. Pennyweight”, who I knew from working on the TV series of “Twin Peaks”. Besides winning 6 awards at various filmfestivals in the US, the short also became eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The movie Illusion Infinity, a.k.a. Paradise, directed by the Swiss born director Roger Steinmann, starring Dee Wallace Stone (“E.T.”), Timothy Bottoms (“The Last Picture Show”) and Barbara Carrera (“Never Say Never Again”), “Barbara gave me a big kiss at the end of the shooting of “Illusion Infinity”, she loved the way I lit her, a very nice way of giving someone a compliment”!
Ruurd started shooting a short called “The Drive”. The director of the short introduced me to a friend of his who was looking for a teacher at UCLA, where I started teaching “Master Lighting Classes”, also teaching students about negative fill, an essential part of lighting
Ruurd also started lobbying at the AFM (American Film Market) and handed out hundreds of resumés to various producers and directors who where visiting the market. A writer visiting the market admired his effort and asked Ruurd Jr. if he had an agent – at that time he had spoken to a few agency’s. “The writer introduced me to the agency”.
In October 2001 Ruurd attended the Santa Fe HD Workshop, a workshop, taught by Jeff Cree and B.Sean Fairburn, SOC. “It was a very technical workshop for someone who has a film background, but I had worked that year in The Netherlands on many ENG camera productions, which helped out a lot”. Working as an ENG-cameraman is very different then what I was used to, which where shooting features. Shooting ENG is where you have to let the framing speak the words even more. With that experience it can be applied to features, documentaries and commercials. It’s a great experience and a lot of fun to work on.
After shooting the “Staatsloterij” (“State-lottery”) commercials for the company Endemol on HD in The Netherlands and a “T-Mobile” commercial, it was still hard to find a director who was interested in trying out the HD-camera, just to try out a “different look” using the menu’s in the HD camera. “The black Gamma menu is great, it’s another tool In order to create more “depth of field” in the shadow-areas to get a different feel and look”.
After a while Ruurd Jr. decided to go to the film festivals of Cannes, Berlin, Emden, Utrecht and Rotterdam to speak to producers and directors to shoot their next project on HD. Ruurd Jr. found there was a lot of interest in shooting on HD at the festivals. He also visited a few post production houses and camera rental houses in the UK and visited Michael Brennan at his home in London and was invited to the Wild Screen Film festival in Bristol, where he sat in on the HD panel, and taught fellow cinematographers about the HD camera at the rental facility of Athalys in Brussel. In order to “evangelize” HD even more, he called up all the HD company’s that had anything to do with the manufacturing of HD equipment and set up a web-site called http://www.highdef.nl, sponsored by the largest post production house in The Netherlands called Valkieser. Ruurd also read about a new filter, the Procompfilter, which he wanted to try out and had it fly out from the manufacturing company in London to test this filter with the HD camera and ran the tests with the two post production houses in The Netherlands, his sponsor Valkieser and Ultimate in Hilversum. “I loved what the filter did to the depth of field of the picture when I shot this model against a green screen, both post production houses where also very excited by the results”.
Ruurd worked for the Amsterdam based company Postpanic and worked with director Mischa Rozema on a 10-day-shoot in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Blackburn using the Sony HDW-F-900 camera, shooting 3 Nike commercials with soccer players as van Nistelrooij, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Henry to be shown in the Nike stores throughout most of the world. Ruurd suggested using the Sony SRW-1 Recorder, “Which, at the time was not available in The Netherlands, so we had it shipped out from London and instead of using 8-bit on the tape, using the Sony SRW-1 Recorder you have 10-bit of information on the tape. A major image quality enhancement.
For another time, Ruurd worked with the director’s team Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle on the black humor web episodes which 2.6 million people have watched over the internet Hellholes
Finishing the Nokia Project – on which he used negative fill. (More info. + behind the scene pictures on his website).
Since Ruurd is also familiar with shooting Corporate films he received a call from Henk van Mierlo to photograph the corporate film for the Friesland Bank.
Recently finished the feature ”Schaduwspel” for one of his ex-students who just turned 21.
The feature won the Den Boogaard Cultuurprijs 2014!