The distinctive roof of De Koepel is one of the city’s iconic landmarks to many Breda residents. ‘When you see the roof, you feel it: hey, I’m home again,’ former prison officer Ton Mink says at the end of Troy Gazan’s film called ‘Binnen de muren’ (‘Inside the Walls’). Troy studied Creative Business at Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas) and graduated with a documentary on the former Koepel prison in Breda. This feeling of coming home is definitely recognisable. To Troy himself too. Although he couldn’t quite see the Koepel roof from his student flat, he passed by the building every day. ‘And then you get curious and you want to know what it looks like inside those walls and what happened there,’ Troy explains.
Inside the walls
That’s how the idea of filming within those walls came about. ‘Just for fun of it, for my portfolio. Operator FutureDome Events agreed, and I joined one of the tours. I got talking to a former prison officer and this man just didn’t stop talking. That’s how I came up with the idea of making a documentary on De Koepel.’ Delving into the archives, Troy came across the same name again and again. Ton Mink, 74 years old now and prison officer in the Breda Koepel prison from 1971 until 2005. In the documentary he talks about what went on inside the walls in his time. A time when serious criminals were locked up in De Koepel, including the infamous ‘Three of Breda’, the last German war criminals imprisoned in the Netherlands.
Impressive premiere in De Koepel
The documentary premiered on 19 October. It was a one-time event in De Koepel of Breda. ‘I never expected that it would attract so many people,’ Troy says. ‘I found it incredibly impressive, what with that mega screen in that massive dome..’ The documentary lasts nearly an hour, but it was certainly not a punishment the audience minded serving. Maybe that’s because Ton Mink tells his story with almost boyish animation and charm. In combination with the ‘scripted scenes’ or reconstructions that support his story, the film never fails to captivate. ‘I included those scripted scenes, because obviously I didn’t have any film footage from that time,’ Troy points out. ‘Because of those fictional scenes, it’s actually not really a documentary, but I did need them in my story.’
Troy wasn’t always interested in making films and human interest stories. ‘It is an interest I developed during my studies in Breda. What’s been especially useful in my graduation production, was everything I did in the Production House (student training company of Creative Business, eds.). After all, you need to do everything yourself, form a team, write the scenario, casting, filming, editing, funding.
Films about prisons mostly focus on the prisoners themselves. ‘Ton’s story got to me in such a way that I decided to turn this around and opt for the prison guard’s perspective. This reverse perspective turned out to work quite well. It was an intense process and it has had quite an impact on me. Particularly the games of power that go on within the walls got me thinking.’ Plenty of ideas for future productions, because it’s clear to Troy that he wants to pursue a career in the film world. ‘Commercials are what you need to make money, but what I would love to do most is working with real people and real stories!’