What was the original brief and how did you develop that into the narrative – what were your primary concerns when drawing up your treatment?
The original brief was simply this: Tell the story (in a short film format) of a young child dealing with the loss of a family member. My first impulse was to tell the story from the child´s point of view. We had to see the world through her eyes, to feel her confusion, her loneliness and her misplaced anger. In general that is the kind of film stories I´m attracted to, where I get to go inside the experience of a character.
The first draft was written by the creatives, and when I landed the job I was invited to co-write the shooting draft, where I added scenes and images that would enhance the feeling of being inside her world.
You have drawn out a very subtle and well-acted performance from the little girl. How did you go about casting her?
The received wisdom is that children can only be on film, not act. To some extent I agree with this, but I knew that for this film I needed to have a dialogue with the young actress so that I could help her find a way to express this confused sadness.
When I met Mie, I met someone with an incredible focus that I rarely see even in adult actors. She had some experience from a kids theatre group, and I think this helped her understand that she needed to find the emotions of the character in herself. She told me about the recent loss of her cat and this became her compass. You can see it in the final film: Whenever she has these intense moments of sorrow, like when she sits on the swing set at the end, she would start the take by saying “Now I´ll think about my cat”. Once the take was over she would return to the here and now and immediately start playing with the other children in the kindergarten.
Was it a straight-forward production – what were the main challenges?
While co-writing the script I stressed that we also had to allow for some scenes to be improvised during the shoot. That we should follow the young actress where she wanted to go rather than demand of her to hit every story beat in the script. This also led me to go for a very small crew, with a minimal lighting setup and locations that allowed for a lot of freedom in terms of shooting order. In the end this actually made for a fairly calm and easy shoot.
The memory/dream of the father lifting her up on his shoulders and running around in the snow is an example of a scene we found on the day.
What are you up to now? Where are you based? Are you signed to a production company?
I´m currently based in Oslo following many years in London. Right now I´m in the edit on two projects: A 25 minute, melancholic comedy that I´ve written and directed called “Nothing Ever Really Ends”, as well as a new commissioned short film for The Norwegian Department Of Health.
I´m signed to two production companies here, one in Oslo and one on the West-Coast (Phantom Film which produced Sometimes). I have an agent in Russia and I´m signed to companies in Holland and Germany. Currently in early talks with a companies in London and Spain. I´m keen to expand my representation and do more international work in the year that´s coming.