Hello APC! My name is Myrthe Nymph and I’m a Dutch filmmaker and writer of Chinese origin. At the moment, I am 21 years old and study at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
Filmmaking and psychology. I often get questioned about this odd combination. I was born April 1st 1998 into a musical family. My dad and mom love making music and even used to be in a music band before they became social workers. I had the privilege to learn as many musical instruments, dance styles and other art forms as I wished to. I was just 12 years old when my passion for filmmaking and photography first planted its seeds when I played around with my dad’s camera. He bought me my first SLR camera with a recording function when I was 15. The recording function got me hooked. I dreamt of going to film school ever since.
With a doctor as a father and a therapist as a mother, I have been brought up in an environment where physical and mental health has played a prominent role. I would discuss philosophy, religion, and science over dinner with my dad and knock on my mom’s bedroom door to talk about social and cultural conflicts I had seen at school. Growing up, the rationality of my dad and the empathy of my mom have always been the main characters of my daily life. On many occasions, I felt misunderstood by the kids my age, yet I failed to understand my own thoughts and feelings.
Like many other teenagers, I experienced romantic relationships, friendships and other happenings that occur around my age. Yet instead of giving myself a break to be young and make mistakes, I did not allow myself to feel what every young person is allowed to feel and tried to rationalize emotions, breakups and life choices. And before I knew, I wandered in a very dark headspace, torn between logic and emotions. My dad thought it was a burn-out, my mom, a personality trait, and my doctor a severe depression. I did not care what my feelings were labeled. While everyone discussed what was best for me, I became tired of the dark and became desperate for any exit.
I was 17 when my mom introduced me to Monika Joras, her old master of therapy. Monika is a retired psychiatrist, writer, and poet. After our first meeting, she decided not to become just my therapist but an auntie or granny, an equal who I could converse with. It was there in her little office in her attic in Haarlem, Netherlands that I felt understood for the first time in a while. In between the long conversations we held and personal poetry we shared, she became one of my biggest role models and tutors in Psychology, or leermeester as we say in Dutch.
I thought I’d be overjoyed to hear I was accepted to film school on my 18th birthday. It was what I had always dreamt of, or so I thought. The courses at the academy felt empty, the feedback was shallow and I yearned for deeper layers of filmmaking. Due to this void and the battle I was fighting mentally, I decided to quit film school. I had to let go of something I wanted so badly and worked so hard for. Around that same time, my film script was selected for a competition and I was granted a production and three premieres. Besides what my producers, doctors and my parents advised, I refused to give up on making my first short film. And so everyone adjusted their schedules for me and helped me to finish my short film Pricetag. To my surprise, this film was a huge success and was featured on bigger screens than I had ever have imagined.
While I was recovering mentally and promoting my film at the same time, I became aware that the void I felt in film school was my desire to learn more about the human brain, behavior, and psychology behind the art of filmmaking. It was something so close to my heart yet I was never fully aware of what it was. Since I did not meet the requirements of the University yet, I spent another year studying Social Work before getting my propedeuse to apply for Psychology at the University.
When I think back, at times I wonder if I understood and could have handled my feelings earlier. If so, maybe I wouldn’t have had to go through that rollercoaster, wouldn’t exhaust myself and the people around me, and maybe my doctor wouldn’t have to turn out to be right. But at the end of the day, I am beyond grateful for the people I have met during that phase, the life lessons I learned along the way and the deep insight I had into myself and who I am. Meeting Monika again three years after our last cup of tea together, I was shocked but proud and excited to see that I had spent the years unconsciously resembling my leermeester step by step.
Filmmaking and psychology. I often get questioned about this odd combination. I can’t help but feel a bit funny when I think of how I follow my parents’ footsteps unintentionally. My dad, curing patients during the weekdays and healing the neighborhood with relaxing jazz guitar on Saturday mornings. My mom, making her clients feel heard with her calm voice during the weekdays and blessing the church with her angelic singing on a Sunday morning. And of course Monika, who to this day, still uses her love for writing to publish books that help therapists and write poetry that inspires and heals others. Whoever said you can’t combine two passions?