Personal Independence and Tattoo Art Are Captured in This Touching Mini-Doc

Since shooting his first short in 2009, Brussels-born film director Jérôme de Gerlache has gone from strength to strength, from his wildly popular comic take on Belgium institutions to his various shorts selected for film festivals across the world. Following his closer look at the artistic excellence of top chef Bertrand Grébaut, Jérôme’s new release has a similar bent; Precious Things Are Very Few takes an intimate documentary look at the life and times of tattoo enthusiast and devil-may-care confidence icon, Macha.

The touching portrait reveals Macha’s fathomless and battle-hardened confidence and indomitable tattoo prowess; the soundtrack, composed by long-time collaborator Cyesm, is a subtle and delicate complement. What message did Jérôme want to deliver with this video?

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“That ‘free is all we are’. There is always a place where people will accept and love you, with zero judgment.”

Jérôme is currently preparing his first feature-length film Where we go, and we’re expecting great things. But with subjects as diverse as expert chefs and abstract national institutions, what piques the interest of this artist?

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The Plus: What distinguishes your documentary subjects?
Jérôme de Gerlache: I like to choose people with a specific talent or who have taken an inspiring path. I met Macha in cinema school back in Belgium in the early 2000′s. I knew Macha had had a pretty hard time in life for 6 years after she finished – when you meet Macha for the first time it really is something. I really love how pure she is, with absolutely no filters.

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TP: Macha is admirably frank; how did you go about building your relationship?
JdG: We have known each other for 16 years now, and Macha was always somebody I really liked. We had some really great times partying together. We had a few long chat sessions on Facebook before the shoot, and an entire Skype talk one night (I really mean that, from 1am to 4am – she has her own schedule).

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TP: What about Macha left the greatest impression on you?
JdG: A great acceptance of what we truly are. With all the bad choices we’ve made, but also the good ones. She represents an optimistic, Belgian way of living: taking the best from any situation. She laughs all day long.

TP: Your last feature with us was on a passionate chef – what attracts you to documenting people who excel at a craft?
JdG: I really admire excellence. I love to shoot artists or passionate people in general. I’m fascinated by them.

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TP: Do you have a tattoo with a story? Have you ever been tempted?
JdG: I have two angel wings on my back – firstly, because when I was a teenager I thought I was an angel in a previous life (not actually, but I liked the idea of an angel falling in love and going back down to earth to experience it).

TP: And secondly?
JdG: Secondly, I had a near-death experience following a scooter crash ten years ago; these wings were a reminder to take care of myself, and to never forget the reasons why this accident happened.

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TP: Where did the inspiration for the title come from?
JdG: It was a quote hung in the tattoo studio. You only have a few friends, a few objects that really matter, and only few things generally in life you really care about.

TP: What else you are doing apart from filming?
JdG: I’m about to shoot my first feature a month from now. It’s a fiction film about a sister who takes her terminally ill younger brother for a road trip in Thailand. I also just did this music video with my friend Yuksek which was literally the first music video shot both on earth and in space.

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Video Credits
Directed by Jérôme de Gerlache
First assistant director: Pascal Boudet
Music composed by Cyesm
Mixed at Headsign Studio
Colourgrading: Jean-Christophe Savelli
Translation: Sean Scully

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