The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Willem Jones

Willem Jones

Film-maker (1994)

Can you describe what you do?

I’m a Leuven-based freelance film-maker who’s been trying out all aspects of filming for a solid year and a half now. With an itching for learning, I’m constantly on the search for new mediums and fields, before I claim what my craft is to be. Because of my freelance status my daily routine changes quite a lot. Some days I film, some days I edit. One thing’s constant though, which is that it always starts with a cup of coffee. The scene I feel the closest to is the skateboarding scene. And it’s actually through skateboarding that I first came into contact with filming culture – it had all the elements that I needed, or was looking for at the time. Working and living with like-minded people always inspires me to push myself.

How do you perceive Leuven?

Most of us all share an intrinsic love for our home-town. But at a certain point in our lives, we can outgrow this space of familiarity, in the search for something new. Me personally, I found my home away from home in this small community.

Leuven is divided into two parts: the drunk students that come and go every semester; and the locals who regularly engage in events, with its small yet tight-knit community. Overall, it’s an open community thanks to the constant flow of talent running through the city.

I would describe most of the locals here as “quiet killers”: super talented, and yet still able to remain humble.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

A small community with a lot of love for each other and their talents. It’s quite an easy-going place, and not really as forward-driven as a big city like Antwerp – but it still has its own charms. I would describe most of the locals here as “quiet killers”: super talented, and yet still able to remain humble.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Leuven’s played a huge role, precisely because of its small scale. Everyone is somehow connected to each other, sometimes without even realising it. If you do something you love with drive and passion, people will recognise this and help you push it further and further. I have been guided by the City itself, invited to put on events and film premieres in an attempt to bring cultures together from a young age. As such, the City is very keen on supporting youngsters who are organising the events that they themselves would actually want to attend.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?

More room for experimentation: there’s a lot of focus placed on Leuven’s student life, with an abundance of bars on offer – nothing to complain about here. Having said that, I would love to see more venues for art, music, festivals, and markets be established. Leuven is for the time being still too safe in its decisions.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Leuven? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

A place where I always feel at home is the little skate-shop Twits. Besides that, I usually head to Parijsstraat to grab a bite and hang out at some shops. The music scene’s also not bad, largely thanks to the presence of Het Depot. I’m also a big fan of the Botanical Garden. I’d suggest to any visitor to rent a bike, and just go discover the city for themselves.