50 stories on turning 50


Turning 50 is a series of film portraits about people in ‘the middle of life’. About people who are no longer young, but not yet old either. About balance, experiences and the future. We will search for and follow them, to find out where they are on their timeline, how they got there and what path they continue on.
It started when filmmaker Menno van Wees was almost 50 years old and was told that he was ‘halfway’. Was that so? And in what light should you see that? In years of life, experiences, happiness? This is how the idea arose to ask ’50s’ about their experiences, the future and what role they play in it. After these conversations it became clear that the place and culture in which people in their 50s grew up can have a major influence on their lives and the choices made over the years. This prompted further research. How will people in different countries experience 50 years? To what extent does culture and the place where you grow up and live influence your well-being? Where is the balance?
Today’s 50s were all approximately the same age during the ‘headlines’ over the years. The different locations, situations and cultures have often resulted in a different experience and processing than a peer in another country. By collecting life stories from all 50 countries in Europe, the Collecting Stories Foundation aims to form a broad and inclusive picture of how people in different cultures have experienced the past 50 years.
And how today’s 50-somethings approach life. One is already quite burned out, tired of things that have happened. The other is just starting to develop, is only now breaking away from parents or caregivers. A third turns a switch and changes tack completely, while for yet another the course is set and it is important to maintain it.

the stories

In the series, daily life comes first. Health, work, family, love, sadness, creativity. Politics and religion and other ‘big issues’ are avoided as much as possible. Now it’s about the individual. We are looking for answers to a number of (philosophical) questions relating to the age of 50. The filming style ensures that the viewer comes very close to the person. The films become intimate film portraits that are depicted with integrity and honesty.
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Image module
Image module
The way in which these people are found is unique. This is done by cutting out the land and then determining the center by balancing it on a pin. That is the location where the trip goes. From this exact center we search until we encounter people of 50 years old who want to tell their story on camera.
We are not looking for notable or in any way ‘special’ figures. The first person we encounter from the center is our main character. Once found, we will spend a day with this person. We go to places of significance that are told about. The story becomes a chain reaction in which the basic questions are central but are always supplemented by new questions based on the story.


Watch the trailer of the pilot episode we shot in Hungary here. Purely for the ‘look & feel’, to see what Turning 50 is about and to discover in what form this concept can be visualized. Shot and edited in a (very) short time, to give an impression…



The aim of the project is to get an idea of how people of the same age but in different places in the world view the ‘middle of their lives’. How do they deal with the legacy of previous generations and how do they look to the future? And what role do they think they can (still) play in passing on a better world to future generations? Collecting Stories believes that by retrieving, collecting and recording the stories, we will achieve understanding, empathy and cooperation.


The intended target group is very broad. With a bit of luck and wisdom we will all live to be 50 years old and so it is something that we will all have to deal with or have had to deal with sooner or later. For young people and young adults, it is an interesting look at how people within the age of parents or caregivers look at life. There is recognition for people in their 40s and 60s. By learning in an interesting and creative way how others in this age deal with the challenges of the ‘further life’ and processing the ‘earlier life’. For the elderly it is recognition for the transformation they have already undergone and which they have (must) give place again.

the need

Turning 50 visualizes the midlife period, an important time when you are taking stock. This is a serious matter, not something that will just blow over. It is an interesting period in which beautiful new things can emerge, but where you can also sustain a lot of damage. Confrontation with the past, or uncertainty about the future. Letting go of children, distancing from parents and upbringing. Processing childhood memories.

the problem

In this world of AI, fake news and social media, it often seems that everyone has it all together. Especially around the age of 50, you can be extra susceptible to these ‘false’ influences. Because what have you actually achieved? And what can you still look forward to? Body and mind become stiffer and the ‘looks’ also seem to have been developed. An intense midlife period can put pressure on relationships, increase the risk of irreversible and wrong decisions and can pose a risk of financial or emotional damage. But who can you talk to about that? Partner, children or family are often ‘too close’ to talk to during this period. If they are not (partly) the cause of how you feel. It is important to know that you are not alone. That there are so many who are also at that balance point of turning 50 years old. Recognition, recognition and empathy are key words within the Turning 50 project.

the solution

In Turning 50 we are not looking for the exciting stories, the heroes, the crazy ones. We discover the stories of ordinary people in a special but ‘random’ way. By collecting and sharing honest stories in a beautiful way, a network of knowledge and experiences is created from which the viewer can draw strength and inspiration to give her or his life more shine. But also to become aware of how to tackle the major challenges of this moment. Collecting Stories believes that sharing these stories will contribute to a broader understanding that the world is a place of dignity for all, and that we must ensure it remains that way for ourselves and future generations.


film style

All films are shot in black and white. This places (even more) emphasis on the stories instead of the environment. The screen format is 2.4:1 (widescreen format).

planning and duration

Turning 50 is an extensive project that requires time in both preparation and implementation. We will start the implementation in the spring of 2024 and will complete it in the summer of 2025 with an exhibition and at least one festival screening and/or (television) broadcast.
After completion of the project, all images created will remain available on the Collecting Stories Foundation website. The foundation will also continue to offer the material to festivals, broadcasters, online streaming services, art cinemas and museums.


direction and coordination

The project is managed by the Collecting Stories Foundation, divided between the board (advisor) and director (direction and implementation). The film portraits are commissioned by the foundation by Grapefruit Moon.


The foundation is supported in its activities by volunteers. The volunteers are members of a working group that is managed by a board member of the foundation. The working groups are concept (monitoring), (pre) production, marketing, screening, distribution and administration.


Grapefruit Moon, commissioned by the foundation to implement the project, is a recognized training company and has 1 to 2 internships available during the production period. These internship positions are filled by students from the Media College in Amsterdam.


The partners within the Turning 50 project are active partners who want to share and use their specific specialization to make the project successful. Collecting Stories is always looking for new partnerships with which we can realize (even) better projects.


Communication for the creation and promotion of the Turning 50 project can be found both online and offline. The marketing necessary to ensure the project goals and the foundation’s objective is in line with the project plan and the statutes: presenting honest information in an unfiltered manner.


The foundation has its own online website (www.collectingstories.com). The website is completely bilingual (Dutch and English). The Turning 50 project plan as well as all information about the foundation, the board, working methods and all data are described in detail here.
Turning 50 will use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube as its main social media channels. Facebook and Instagram will be posted weekly and when a notable news item or event occurs. The teasers of the films will appear on YouTube. Vimeo will mainly be used to host the films.


The foundation has an information package available for funds, donors and (potential) sponsors and partners.
The foundation has designed a booklet with all possible information, background stories and additional documents for funds, sponsors and donors. This beautifully designed booklet can be supplemented with updates that are sent during the project. This creates a special reference work of the entire project.
During the shooting period, ‘stills’ from the films made will be printed as postcards which can be distributed at events or sent by post, both individually and in a batch to a specific group of people such as the owners of the booklet.


It is of great importance to the foundation that the project takes the form and content as it was conceived. The board of the foundation therefore closely monitors that the detailed plan will be implemented as such. The foundation believes it can provide the right structure for this through interim discussions, reporting from the makers and budget control. An external accounting firm will manage and report on the finances.


For further information about the Turning 50 project, please contact project director Menno van Wees on +31(0)6 814 76 828 or via menno@collectingstories.com

donations and sponsorship

Donations, in whatever form, are very important to optimally implement the project. If you are already convinced that your money will be well spent, it is possible to transfer a donation via our website. Click here to make a donation…
Sponsors enrich the project and offer new opportunities for collaboration. If you would like to sponsor Turning 50, please contact Menno van Wees on +31(0)6 814 76 828 or menno@collectingstories.com