Describe your childhood please and what led you to directing.
Very normal childhood, school, friends, football. But when I was twelve, I discovered this lack of interest in everything that was too controlled or guided. I quit all team sports and started skateboarding, then started doing graffiti, and eventually started making skateboard videos. And this passion for documenting and filming is what led me to directing.
Quite a few of your films explore youth or childhood without parental boundaries, worlds where kids transgress any rational control often with a feeling of abandonment, almost like a modern day Scandinavian Lord of the Flies. Is there something here that you’re drawing upon from your own experience?
I think up until recently, all the issues or personal experiences I wanted to make films out of were from this big bank of emotions I have from being young. I had such normal twenties that I went back more to the youth years. But now I’m starting to see the potential in all of my mid-twenties issues. haha.
You can get us sitting on the edge of our seats with tension while simultaneously wanting to laugh out loud. It’s a mix of creditability and incredulousness, which is sometimes hilariously funny. What’s your process of writing or developing scripts? Do visual narratives easily become apparent to you or do you slog over and rework and rework a script?
It’s searching for the idea that takes time. If I’m doing a music video I have been thinking: what story do I want to tell, and does it fit with the song? But it’s become more and more, “does the song fit my story?” because I constantly use my film ideas that I already have started working on. Like my two latest; Whateverest (the fifteen minute short film, soon to come, that we made Todd Terje – Inspector Norse out of) and the video for Young Dreams’ “Fog of War”. (See Related Content). Both of them were short film ideas prior to having heard the tracks, but were easily adapted to music videos.
Eerie, creepy children with special powers, what is it about this intrigue that appeals to you?
No longer. My focus is on realism now.
Do you draw storyboard or simply write a shots list?
I never do storyboards. I have an idea and some key situations or shots in mind, but it starts forming in to a shots list once locations, casting and everything has started rolling.
Is it a completely different process for your commercial work and personal films?
The main difference between personal projects and commercials are: total freedom vs big budgets. My creative process isn’t that different, but it’s more limited on a commercial. But still, I try to make all my projects into something I can be proud of.
Do your personal projects inform your commercial work? And do new ideas occur to you while you’re working which you later develop into short films or music videos? Or are your new ideas – whether technically or narrative – more likely to happen while you’re completely detached from film making?
I don’t switch mindset completely when working on commercials vs personal projects, so I bring my mind fully to any project. I don’t like to wait and let ideas grow, I want to make them happen right away, so I don’t have a bank of ideas, but I do have a bank of films I’ve made from those ideas. I believe in productivity as much as creativity, because whenever a writing process takes too long I lose interest and don’t do them at all.
You’ve recently been signed to Friend in London, Logan & Sons in the States and work out of Bacon in Scandinavia. They all obviously see your unique way of film making as very appealing to their potential clients. Do you have to exaggerate some aspects of your visual language in some countries while toning it down in others? Is there a universal language in film making that you answer?
I do adapt to specific projects, especially as commercials have more specific needs – how it needs to look, how it needs to feel. But I attack any project as something I want to make as good as possible according to my taste and beliefs, it’s like that Stanley Kubrick quote “A director is a kind of idea and taste machine; a movie is a series of creative and technical decisions, and it’s the director’s job to make the right decisions as frequently as possible”.
Please tell us about the latest commercial, your first out of the States.
I just did a commercial for Match.com with Logan and Sons. It’s, much like my ad for NetCom, about relationships. I had a great time shooting in LA, and would love to come back for more.
What’s your favourite piece of camera kit – and what do you prefer to shoot on? Digital or film?
Well, I’ve only shot 35mm once, and I really like the look of that. But I also like the luxury of letting the camera roll without thinking of costs. In a dream world it would be a camera that looks exactly like 35mm but is digital, and I guess that’s where we are heading.
Do you always become heavily involved in the editing process?
Yep, always. Shooting the film is like buying the lego-kit, but then you got to build it.
What’s the long-term plan?
Long term plan: making one more short film, then a feature, then writing a book, then another feature, then moving to some place I don’t know yet, then missing all my friends, then moving back only to find that all my friends have forgotten me and don’t care anymore, desperately trying to impress everyone with a third feature that fails, then going back to doing commercials for a while, then doing the Greatest Feature Of All Time and at the same time becoming an outlaw somehow.
And PS: I will release two short films soon. Whateverest (15m) and Real Life Exp. (10m)