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1st February 2016
Familiar patterns
Title of film: Elliot Moss, Pattern Repeating
Director: Daniel Howlid / HochR
Production Company: HochR
We talk with Norwegian director Daniel Howlid, part of the Scandinavian art collective HochR, about his dystopian world of family dynamics

It’s a mesmerising and intriguing narrative, please tell us where the story concept first came from and how you evolved it. 

I wish I could give you a descriptive answer to the origin of the concept, but tracking down the ideas and the cognitive processes after a project is wrapped up and finished is rather difficult for me, but nevertheless interesting. I asked myself several times how and where the initial idea came to me, and I believe the image of the detached dad doing pommel horse spins was something that came to me at an early stage in the process, and from there on I started building up the universe and narrative out of that particular image.

What is the significance of the green masks?

As I got further into creating the universe, it just did not click for me to have live action humans in there. I tried to wrap my head around it, and got more and more certain that I had to animate the family members somehow. I believe I thought live action humans would make the tones too heavy, perhaps even melodramatic. The zentai suits allowed me to keep the surface colourful, and hopefully the viewer more active, as you yourself have to project the feelings of each and one family member on their faces.

Some of the scenes are like art installations – how did you go about designing the effects?

Apart from having a childlike fascination for automated machinery and engineering, I was searching for something that could give a monotonous repeated effect that would seem imprisoned and impactful when taken out of its natural use. An assistant editor told me she could watch the pigeon clay thrower for hours and be filled with a certain sorrow, but without being able to articulate precisely how and why. I find that interesting.

What were the major challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?

There where few challenges, thanks to a very pro pre-production, but we were rather nervous when firing off the airbags in a 10×15 concrete hall 04:00 in the morning, downtown Oslo. The rumblings after the explosions ricocheted harshly and we had to kill all the lights and stay low in order to not having the cops shutting down the production.

Did you storyboard each scene in detail before the shoot?

Nothing was storyboarded, but we had a very precise shot list and spent lots of time location scouting. We decided early on a constant moving camera, so every camera setup had to be set up with tracks and dolly which of course takes longer time. With 10 locations and over 50 camera setups, logistics and crew need to be well synced up. Not all of the shots made it to the final edit. I believe 15 were taken out unfortunately. We had only budget for a two-day shoot, so things had to be extremely well organised and fast. Every camera setup was carefully planned during the recce rounds, so when we finally entered the shooting days, things went very smooth, hence a storyboard was not needed this time.

Where did you shoot the film?

The concrete hall is actually an artist-run gallery located in Oslo. The rest of the shots are done in and around suburbia, a few miles outside Oslo.

 

Credits

Directed by HochR

Project manager – Maren Teresie Garmann Launes

Production design – Hailey Reynolds Hall

Editor – Miron Kundzicz

Colorist – Elliot Moss

1st AC – Jon Vu-Yen Nguyen

Gaffer – Roar Midtlien

1st AD – Renée Reif

2nd AD – Bjørnar Grønhaug