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Question Time – In conversation with Jorrit van der Valk

It was in Diamonds Are Forever that James Bond visited the wonderful city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Naturally, the fanbase in the land of colourful tulips and impressive windmills expects to be supplied with all the latest news and insights on agent 007 – a service that founders Jorrit van der Valk and Merlijn Kuiper were eager to provide with their website jamesbond.nl.

The Bond Bulletin: Jorrit, it was in 2006 that you and Merlijn Kuiper decided to found a Dutch James Bond website. It went online just a month before the premiere of Casino Royale and has since delivered fresh news on an almost daily basis. Were there any particular challenges in integrating jamesbond.nl into the worldwide collection of Bond fan sites or did you actually fill a gap in the market with it being in Dutch language?

Jorrit van der Valk, founder and editor of James Bond Nederland

Jorrit van der Valk: It took us many years to build our website and the fanbase within. We started with a simple site in Publisher and building form and so on. James Bond Nederland is a hobby for Merlijn and me. And with the help from all our editors we made the website a success. There were some other Dutch James Bond websites in the past. But they all, except bondblog.nl, don’t exist any more. So, we filled a gap in all the international sites. Our Dutch language is key for our Dutch and Flemish followers.

The Bond Bulletin: James Bond Nederland has come a long way in thirteen years and there have been some mergers, f.e. with the 007nl.com forum and the Dutch Bond magazine ‘Bondesque’. What was the purpose behind these mergers? Was it a way of bundling the Dutch fan base and providing them with one single point of contact?

Jorrit van der Valk: Good question. Before James Bond Nederland, Merlijn, myself and some of our editors were members of 007nl. The majority of the editors were not willing to arrange international contacts. Merlijn and I believed that a widespread international network is key for our website. So, we split up and started on our own. 007nl stopped after two years and some of the existing members decided to start the 007nl.com forums. That wasn’t a success, so they joined us. Bondesque magazine was a wish from Merlijn. But just after three editions it stopped because we did not have the time anymore.

The Bond Bulletin: The success of your web project is clearly visible. The output of James Bond Nederland across all media channels is fantastic and your Facebook followers are about to crack the 4.000 mark – a number significantly higher than some other fan sites including the James Bond Club Germany and indeed The Bond Bulletin. However, there seem to have been no aspirations to open a Dutch James Bond fan club. Why is that?

Jorrit van der Valk: This is an easy one. James Bond Nederland is or hobby. We are not getting paid for the website and we are doing it for free. All in our spare time. That is the luxury we have. We don’t have any deadlines that could affect our personal and working lives. That is the reason that we are not the Dutch James Bond fan club.

Jorrit van der Valk and Merlijn Kuiper, founders of James Bond Nederland
“Facebook is core for the international James Bond community. I made a trip with my dear friend Allard last year and most of the contacts were made through Facebook. So, if you want to get something done in the community: Get Facebook!”

The Bond Bulletin: You mentioned earlier, that you consider having an international network key to your success. What do you think are the greatest advantages of being a member of the global James Bond community, especially in the digital age where everyone can connect to anyone?

Jorrit van der Valk: When you have a question for your colleagues (that is how I see all the other fan clubs and sites) you just send an e-mail, call them or text them in an instant. That is a big advantage for the important international network that Merlijn and I have. Facebook is core for the international James Bond community. I made a trip with my dear friend Allard last year and most of the contacts were made through Facebook. So, if you want to get something done in the community: Get Facebook! (laughs) Some of those contacts are great people that I’d love to see more often. But they live from the United States to Sweden, Germany, Finland, Spain, Austria and so on!

The Bond Bulletin: One particularly nice aspect of attending the various Bond events across Europe is also the chance, to meet stars in person. What encounter with a cast or crew member of the Bond family did you enjoy the most? Have you ever been disappointed by one who was not as nice as you thought?

Jorrit van der Valk: I’m delighted that I got the chance to meet a few stars in person. I’ve met Sir Roger Moore and George Lazenby. There is a story about Moore that is worth mentioning. I got the chance meeting him and Lady Moore at a Bondstars event. But I got sick, so it was not possible. I was guttered. A few months later Merlijn called me. He said: “Remember Sir Roger? You’re going to meet him!” And I got the chance! Roger was very charismatic and friendly! I also got the opportunity to meet Thomas Wheatley, Nikki van der Zyl, Norman Wanstall, John Moreno, Derek Lyons and many more. The memories about the names mentioned are very important to me. There was not a single star who disappointed me.

The Bond Bulletin: If you could pick two Dutch actors to star in a Bond film as a Bond Girl, villain or henchman…who would you pick? Who are the hottest Dutch stars at present?

Jorrit van der Valk: You have probably heard about Carice van Houten. She had a role in Game of Thrones. But she is not my choice for a part. I think Michiel Huisman is a good henchman. Sylvia Hoeks was in Blade Runner 2049. She could be a Bondgirl. But the people that I mentioned are in Hollywood productions. So, let’s go back to our in Holland actors. I think that Jacob Derwig could play a great villain, Anna Drijver a Bondgirl and Tygo Gernandt a henchman.

“War is unnecessary in my opinion. Talking is key. And you have to make a few sacrifices in the process.”

The Bond Bulletin: Let’s stray from Bond for a moment. In 2015, you have ventured into filmmaking with the documentary B17 – The Flying Fort, The Emergency Landing in Groenekan, about the crash of a B17 bomber near the Dutch village of Groenekan in May 1944. Can you tell us a little bit about this project?

Jorrit van der Valk: On May 28th, 1944 a B17 crashed in a field near Groenekan, approximately 45 kilometers south-east of Amsterdam. I’ve worked for a local news station in 2015 that had Groenekan as one off their villages. 2014 marked the unveiling of a monument for the ten brave men who tried to liberate Europe from the Germans. I made a report about it, met relatives and a general of the Dutch army whose father saved these men. A few months later I decided that this remarkable story had to be told and made the documentary.

The Bond Bulletin: I can imagine that must have been quite an emotional journey, dealing with the real-life fate of those ten brave men of whom three lost their lives. For our generation, who have not experienced conflicts like WWII, did making the documentary give you a different perspective of war in general? Do you consider war a necessity under certain circumstances?

Jorrit van der Valk: It certainly was. When you do all your research for your documentary all the stories come alive. The story of Thomas Roskowick for instance. He was a 19-year-old boy who just got married and had a baby. He died in a foreign country on a water well surrounded by strangers.

War is unnecessary in my opinion. Talking is key. And you have to make a few sacrifices in the process. You cannot have it all. But there is an exception. If there is a regime that kills for sport, because they think that the people they kill are not as human as they are, you can intervene. Just like what happened in WWII. If there is anyone who would like to see the documentary please follow the link: https://youtu.be/DgP-X_0UzGwIt The film is in Dutch but just watching gives you a good insight about what happened back then.

The Bond Bulletin: Swinging back to Bond. If I ask you to completely delete two scenes out of your favourite James Bond film, what film are we talking about and which scenes need to go?

Jorrit van der Valk: Haha, that’s a tough one! My favourite James Bond movie is The World is Not Enough. I think that many people are shocked now! Denise Richards as Christmas Jones was a mistake. So, if we could delete the scene where she says that somebody’s gonna have her ass would be appreciated! The next one, not exactly one scene. But please could Christmas Jones in the whole movie stop screaming about Jamesssss!!! That is so A View To A Kill territory!

The Bond Bulletin: The master question: Can you construct an exquisitely sexy Bond girl name out of actual Dutch first names and words?

Jorrit van der Valk: This is one for the Dutch speaking followers of The Bond Bulletin then: Conny Keessen. She’s an actual freelance journalist and her name literally translates to cannot have sex! (laughs)

With that indeed saucy tidbit of the Dutch language learned, we’d like to thank Jorrit for his time and wish the entire team of James Bond Nederland continuing success in their work.

One Comment

  1. Gerard Gerard February 11, 2019

    Nice story! But now back to the Netherlands, gentlemen! James Bond Nederland needs you!

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