No, no you can’t be a new director, you’re far too experienced in every sense. Up until you directed this beautifully crafted film, what have you been doing?
I come from a small island off the Danish west coast. When my father was young he was a DJ in London and later in life he became a sailor. My grandfather was a jazz-drummer and my grandmother was a ballet teacher. I’ve always thought they were pretty interesting, lovely and crazy people that had a positive outlook on life.
I was always surrounded by music and art throughout my childhood. We did not have much money and I was taught that the key to happiness was that you engaged yourself with things you really liked and felt an interest for.
I’m very glad that I grew up where I did with all the characters on this island – the fisherman, businessman, local idiot and musicians, the fraudster etc. I feel that it has given me a lot of empathy.
During the wintertime on the island, it was really dark and dreary and we spent most of our time indoors watching movies, tv series and cartoons.
After compulsory school I didn’t know which path to choose… music or should I join the navy? The questions were far more than the answers. The only thing I did know was that I had to get off the island. It no longer offered me the things I suddenly needed.
As an answer to my prayers, one day my grandfather called and asked me if I would be interested in going to high-school and to live with them. They lived in a suburb outside Copenhagen and I immediately saw my chance to get into the big world. I moved the next day.
What I learned in high school was that I did not want to go to school anymore. At that time I had a girlfriend who lived in London and on my first trip there, I met a model scout from a major agency, so I quit the idea of being a sailor, and started working as a full-time model and did a bit of acting for commercials. That came from out of nowhere.
I was much more interested in what the photographers were doing, however, so I took some photo courses to learn the basics. I was then an assistant to a fashion photographer (Dennis Stenild) and he let me borrow his equipment. It made it easier for me to get started and shoot my own stuff.
I met Martin Werner (director and owner of Bacon) about five years ago through a mutual friend and he told me about Bacon and I thought making moving pictures instead of stills sounded really interesting.
Four months later, Martin Werner called me and told me that they needed a guy to do the everyday routines in the company and I suddenly realized that this was the opportunity that I had been waiting for, without knowing it.
My job was to pick up the phone, make coffee and assist where I could. It quickly developed into learning to edit, make showreels and go on film shoots.
I had no time to take stills anymore, but instead I discovered research.
It dawned on me that all the movies I had seen throughout my childhood were still in the back of my mind and it was suddenly a very useful knowledge. After having assisted freelance researchers for a while, I was eventually given my own research assignments.
Six months later Bacon took me on as a full time researcher and found some one else to pick up the phone.
It was great to see how the clips, images and music that I found, were used in films and I felt for the first time in my life that people actually listened to me.
They made me a part of every process. It was fantastic to constantly learn something new and that you constantly found yourself in situations with creative problems and solutions.
I really like how the bacon directors were and still are very particular about the details. They made me realize how important a good cast, locations, etc were and they were also very supportive when I decided to pursue a career in directing and that film school was probably not a good option for me.
They made me an assisting director. Since then I’ve been traveling around the world on shoots and it has given me tremendous experience in so many ways. Bacon has both challenged and spoiled me because they always wanted me to learn as much as possible.
How did the idea and the narration evolve?
I was given some rules by my mentors at Bacon, Martin Werner and Kasper Wedendahl, because I had worked on another script before this one. It was a 40-minute film about women, but a totally different story though. They thought it was a bit too much to take on as a first project so they recommended that I make it smaller. So I could only use a small cast, four women, a guy and it had to be done in one location.
It sounded like a good idea. That same evening I began to write, but all I could think of was a film about a guy who was with four hookers in a hotel room and that film I didn’t want to do.
I wanted to write a tribute to women, because I realized how important they are to me. All my best memories always include women.
While I tried to write, I listened to music and an old sailor song went on and immediately the idea came up for the film. It would be a story about a sailor with a woman in every port.
I met with my friend and journalist Gustav Toftgaard. I really like the way he writes, descriptive, simple and humorous. We have the same references, and I thought it would be interesting to write with someone who did not work with film. For two weeks, we met over some bottles of rum, talked about women, smoked lots of cigarettes and wrote until we had finished a manuscript.
The most challenging part of the writing process, was the narration, but also the funniest to do. We did a lot of research with poems and music and it slowly evolved. It was important that the sailor didn’t appear to be too intelligent and it had to be honest.
It must have been rather difficult framing shots in such cramped quarters, what camera did you use?
The DoP, Laust Trier Mørk, and I knew we had to be well prepared and that in the end gave us some windows for experimenting too. We shot it in three days using an Alexa. Since the ship was lying still, we captured a sailing/rocking feeling by moving the lights up and down to make it feel more natural, instead of doing the movement in the camera.
Have you got some more great scripts in your top drawer? What are you working on now?
A have a whole drawer full! Not sure if all of them are great, most of them are just ideas. I went to Paris three months ago, left my life behind in Copenhagen and decided to live my life out of a suitcase. I wrote a lot while I was there and just finished a short film script, that I hope to do in the near future. I’m really excited about it. At the moment I’m in Buenos Aires, visiting some friends, who have a production company here, called Lomo Cine. Last week I came up with a new short film and the plan is to shoot it during two weeks, starting now.
And assuming you’re up for shooting commercials, what would your dream script be?
Being able to play without some financial constraints. It should contain explosions, a yacht and fast cars, a lot of beautiful women, flying jets and it has to be about toothpaste… just kidding…I haven’t really thought about it.