Dree Andrea is as some would call her a ‘Jack of all trades, master of some’. Andrea is an international award-winning filmmaker who was born in Amsterdam. She has always been fascinated with New York City. When Andrea first set foot in New York City for the first time in 1989, it literally put a spell on her and some would say that she has put a spell on New York City. Ever since, she has been traveling back and forth from Old Amsterdam, picking up creative assignments that she was passionate about. But she has always had a real love of New York City.
One of her most current works is a documentary filmed in New York City called Mr. Right, about finding Mr. Right in New York City. Many women can relate to Andrea’s search for Mr. Right as the documentary takes her through New York City searching for her Mr. Right.
Dree is a also a Reiki practitioner interested in shamanic studies and holistic healing. She graduated as a vegan and vegetarian chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. She is also a ceramic artist, illustrator and writer. She has a website Dree in the big city www.dreeinthebigcity.com.
What was the inspiration for your documentary Mr. Right?
Over the years I have grown more and more intrigued exploring how people emotionally survive the (often cold and impersonal) ways of American city life. I’ve asked myself whether living in the city is as crazy, impersonal, fast-paced and lonely as they sometimes say. But I’ve found that there is a hidden intimacy, love and support amongst New Yorkers that some people may not be aware of. This was a theme in my previous two films about New York, The Tunnel (about the homeless) and All Visitors Must Be Announced (about doormen). Mr. Right, (about singles), although a separate project, feels to my like a natural ‘part 3’ of a trilogy.
When did you start filming your documentary and where is it filmed?
I started filming in 2003, after about 4 years of research. Most of it was shot in New York, with the exception of the hometowns of the three main characters.
How long did it take to film and create your documentary?
Altogether it took six years to research, find finance, shoot and eventually get the film out there. Although that is a long and sometimes torturous road (that I am oh so familiar with from my other films), many documentary filmmakers will unfortunately tell you about similar timeframes – it’s just harder and harder to get documentaries made, and out there.
What were some of the things that you learned while working on your documentary – things that were surprising or unexpected?
The more I researched, the more I became convinced that the way ‘we’ Europeans approach dating, is very different from ‘the American way’. There are a lot more expectations here it seems – that makes it even harder to connect. Plus it’s a fast paced city – people feel there’s simply no time to ‘go with the flow’. They often make their minds up about each other in a fifteen minute coffee date.
Was there anything especially challenging about working or filming this documentary?
In the six years that I was working on it, all these reality shows started to pop up. None of them talked about my themes – how hard it is to connect with each other and why, the hidden loneliness, how many people wear a mask or behave like they’re in a theatre play (often out of fear to show what they’re really about), in a big city. By the time I finished the film, anyone who heard what the topic was, thought that it was another film about running around following people on (bad) dates. It was hard to convince people otherwise. Hard to find an outlet for the film in America (it had played in the cinema and was broadcast in Europe). When MAKOR finally gave the film a chance, I found statements in the comments on my blog that made me realize, hey, this is really getting to people the way I had hoped. It’s just so hard to get the film to its audience. (Read comments about the documentary at the blog: http://dreeinthebigcity.com/?p=33 ).
Did this documentary remind you of any of your other projects?
Like I mentioned before in a way, with me the theme of the most recent film I’m working usually comes from a small seed that was planted whilst I was working on my previous one.
Did this project reveal to you anything about being single? About the search for a soul mate?
I could go on for pages about that, but I think I can sum it up like this; If you don’t know yourself and aren’t willing to do the work to get acquainted, it’s going to be very hard to find a soul mate. I think often by the time you stop the search for the ‘missing piece’ in someone else, because you realize you feel pretty happy and complete yourself, you might be surprised what shows up on your path ‘unexpectedly’. I’ve been single for a long time myself. Maybe a lot of people would benefit from investing the curiosity and love they want to put into someone else in themselves for a while first.
Are you still single, still searching for a soul mate? Or have you found someone special?
I met someone during the period that I was researching. It gave me an interesting perspective. When I did a research interview, it was almost always the first thing someone would ask me; ‘Are you single yourself?’ When I was single I was an ‘alley’ in the conversation we had. When I started seeing someone that turned into something like; ‘Oh, then you can’t possibly understand how hard it is – you have someone.” But I did understand, because I had lived it for a number of years. And on both sides of the Ocean.
What would you advise other people who are looking for love?
Be yourself. And if you don’t know who that is, take a little time to find out before you put all your time and energy in a search to find a soul mate.
What are your favorite films or television shows today?
At the moment I feel more awareness should go towards what’s really happening here on the planet. I’m so happy people are out there making films like The future of Food, Supersize me, An inconvenient truth. I also see valuable themes pop up in independent movies, and Hollywood movies, like Peaceful Warrior Deja Vu. At the same time I am such a people – I love films like Sideways and The Squid and the Whale and Happiness.
Do you watch reality television? What do you think of it? Any favorite shows?
I like to go see movies on the big screen and am more of a reader than a television watcher. My absolute favorite book right now is 2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck. I see that book as a wake-up call. But I do realize you have to have a willingness to wake up in order to appreciate it. It’ll probably be a classic 100 years from now. If I have to name a favorite TV show, it’ll probably be Six Feet Under.
What projects are next for you? Have you been inspired to do anything because of Mr. Right?
I am inspired to take a break from filmmaking again. It is so emotionally and financially draining for me, that I need to recharge my battery before going out there again. So it’s back to being a chef, illustrator, writer and ceramic artist for a while. Whilst studying some new things – that’s always energizing and inspiring too.
Where can we see Mr. Right?
It’s hard to catch it, but you can by it directly from me, the old fashioned way. There’s a link to my web store. Well, it’s more a market stall at this point but with one e-mail I can get one out to people. I encourage them to show it in a group or borrow it to friends. Often people ask me for a free copy – I don’t need to make tons of money which I can’t afford to do – but this way I hope people decide to invest. (The movie is available at Andrea’s website, which also has previews of the film: http://www.dreeinthebigcity.com/?page_id=30 )
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Always plug into your creative side. It’s one of the keys to happiness. Stay curious and open to new things, new people and their opinions and interests. That’s another key if you ask me. Keep an eye on your diet and don’t pop too many over the counter stuff – it’s amazing how I conquered depression and other ‘ailments’ simply with food. If you’re interested in any of these issues, check out my website ‘food & thoughts’, and the ‘food’ and ‘thought’ links on the homepage. Dree In the Big City: http://dreeinthebigcity.com/