Director Arne Toonen Talks Black Out, Plot and More

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Charity (Katja Schuurman), Charles (Edmond Classen) and Petra (Brigit Schurrman) in Black Out. (Doppelgänger Releasing)

Charity (Katja Schuurman), Charles (Edmond Classen) and Petra (Brigit Schurrman) in Black Out. (Doppelgänger Releasing)

Black Out has been compared to a European version of The Hangover.

It’s a flattering assessment of the film, but Arne Toonen deserves much more recognition for Black Out‘s dark, comic and thriller-type plot.

“It’s based on a Dutch book from the 1980s. Initially, we wanted to turn that book into a script. I was approached by someone who wanted to do this script for a long time. This is based on the guru of drugs in the Netherlands – he has experimented with every type of drug in the world,” said Toonen during a telephone interview from the Netherlands.

“In that book, there were many points of view, and this was very challenging to put in a script. It’s based on a man who has blacked out and finds a dead body. He has no idea where the dead body came from. He was an ex-con who had pulled himself from the live, but was drawn back in. That was the starting point we used for the script.”

Toonen is a native of the Netherlands, but he moved to Los Angeles in his early years because his father was a freelance foreign correspondent of film. Back in those days, his father interviewed the likes of Jon Voight, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, and Joan Collins, among others. That’s how Toonen first became involved with film, which is now his passion.

“I was spoon-fed film and Hollywood entertainment as a young kid,” he said. “That’s basically how it started, and from then on, I was in love with film.”

And in Black Out, we his love for film and filmmaking.

Black Out, now playing in select theaters and VOD, features Raymond Thiry, Kim van Kooten, Bas Keijzer, Renee Fokker, Katja Schuurman, Edmond Classen and Brigit Schurrman. Toonen said that he himself cast Thiry, as he was the perfect fit for the role of Jos Vreeswijk (the man who blacks out.)

Black Out shows us how retired criminal Jos wakes up next to a murdered man, but he has no memory of what happened the night before or why he is there. Jos quickly learns that a group of gangsters are targeting him as the only person involved in the disappearance of 20 kilos of coke.

Within the span of 24 hours and before his wedding day, Jos attempts to figure out what’s going on while also finding a solution. Soon enough, he goes back to his old days of being a part of thieves and drug dealers.

Before stating that they shot the movie in 28 days, Toonen said Black Out was edited in 12 weeks. He also said that, at first, the plan was to air the film only on television, but it landed in theaters.

“I had to cut out some stuff from the script because we had too much. This film was initially made for television, and we had a very small budget and gave very little time to produce,” said Tooner. “Our first day of shooting was October 3, 2011, and our premiere date was January 20, 2012. We made that film in a very short time because we wanted to go theatrical with it.”

So why should people watch this film? Tooner says it’s an attractive dark comedy that has thrilling scenes.

“It is high-paced, and geared to crime-genre lovers,” he said. “It has a lot of black and silly humor, and what will attract people the most is that it plays with film conventions. Also, it has a lot of colorful, eloquent and memorable characters. It’s a wild ride, and its guaranteed to make people laugh.”

Once you watch Black Out, you’ll instantly know if the comparison of it being like The Hangover is reasonable.

Marvin Vasquez is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @geo_la
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