Ilja Kok and Willem Timmers during a debate

Alumniverhaal

Testimonial Ilja Kok - Documentary Filmmaker

Since few BTO graduates are already in the labour market, and considering that many are interested in the direction of Society and Culture, we have asked Ilja Kok, alumnus of the MSc Leisure Tourism and Environment, to share her experiences of becoming a documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur.

During my MSc I realized that I was doing the right study at the right time at the right place

What do you do?

Together with my former classmate Willem Timmers, from the MSc. Leisure, Tourism and Environment (MLE) I am currently starting up a film production company for documentary films, named Copper Views. Under the umbrella of Copper Views, we aim at putting something in motion by creating visual stories that roam the world. At the moment we are busy making our second documentary on tourism. The first one called Framing the Other was about tourism and its complex relationships with indigenous communities. The documentary became a success in terms of reach, inspiring discussions that it provoked (and still does) and the number of festivals that screened the film. Our second film is about Chinese tourism in Giethoorn and will be broadcasted soon (end 2014, beginning 2015) on the Dutch National television. What makes me enthusiastic about this job is that I am combining elements of tourism, creativity and business in one job.

Role of BTO in career development

Although I did a bachelor in tourism I did not follow the BTO program. However, I think this program is valuable in deepening once knowledge about tourism. After my bachelor in Tourism and some years of working experience in the field of tourism (education), I was looking to deepen and expand my knowledge on tourism on a different level. For me the MLE program at the Wageningen University provided me with this opportunity. 

Key turning points career

During my MSc I realized that I was doing the right study at the right time at the right place. That feeling was almost like a drug that enabled me to combine a job with my MSc. In addition the variety of good courses and lecturers inspired me as a person and a professional. I used to work as a lecturer at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences and before that I worked as tour manager and guided groups in some Asian and African countries. In this sense my MSc. was not a starting point for my career; however, it has definitely fueled a further step. In my current job I quite regularly use knowledge and insights that I have gained in MLE. Especially when a tourism settings needs to be (academically) analyzed and/or reflected upon from a different perspective.

Future plans

My plan is to make much many more documentary films for Copper Views that are thought provoking, ground breaking and -in a way- contribute to a better understanding in the world.