Please briefly describe your childhoods…
Holger: I grew up in Ordrup, 10 km from Copenhagen with my mom, dad and sister. I have never been good with sport, so I’ve always been interested in film and music. I’ve made small films since I was 11, and in high school I started to make short films for the school committees.
Oliver: My family and I spent a great deal of time traveling around the world. When I was three years old, my parents sold our house and car, quit their jobs and jumped on the next plane to Thailand. We spent three years traveling across several continents. At one point we settled in New York City for a year where I attended kindergarten on Union Square.
After New York, my family and I settled in Charlottenlund, a Copenhagen suburb, where I attended a public school for 10 years followed by three years in high school. My experience with film blossomed during these years and once I graduated, I began working at Bacon, where I currently work.
I have always had a longing for creating films. When I was a young boy, I would set up Lego figures on our kitchen table and create stop-motion films, where I would move the Lego pieces into different positions and take pictures in between. I had the time of my life, spending several hours developing concepts for each character, making sure they had interesting backstories. I have enjoyed my childhood and look forward to the upcoming chapters of my life, where film hopefully will be included.
I’m loathe to sound patronising but your short film, Ganske Vist (No Doubt About It) really is a well-crafted, beautifully shot, exceptionally well-written short film for anyone neverlone two 19 year olds. Please tell us how the film came about.
Oliver: Holger came by my house one day and he had a great idea for a short film. Instead of telling the whole story in a regular way, we went out on the street and acted out the whole movie, stepping into each character’s mindset and acting out their roles. It was very entertaining and seemed extremely funny, giving me an instant need to be part of the project. From that moment on, we more or less began working on our short film.
We began jotting down ideas, calling people, casting and searching for locations to shoot. It took around three to four months to film and edit, from idea came to finished piece published online. The film truly is a product of our fantastic friends and our amazing workplace Bacon. Holger and I took advantage of our connections and everybody more or less worked for free, even though we had shooting days that lasted up to 16 hours.
Holger what was behind your decision to develop this narrative – did you write the script? Please tell us about the process of writing the dialogue and evolving that into storyboards? For instance what was behind your decisions for the framing and settings – we particularly love the hairdresser scenes.
Holger: It’s tempting for everyone to pass on a great story, even though you know it’s a secret. Even though you promised not to tell anyone, you always have someone to trust, or so you think. I love it that people can easily relate to the fact that rumors spread and secrets are told on, but still everyone is sure that their trusted best friend can keep a secret. It’s a funny paradox! That is why I wanted to make this film.
And I loved the idea of telling a story about a rumor/secret which is told on and exaggerated, but in the end, the exaggeration turns out to be true. It’s a funny twist to a classic Danish fairytale by H.C Andersen about one feather becoming five hens.
Since it’s such a dialogue-heavy film it was important that the script and settings felt real. I wanted the conversations to sound just like the way my friends and I talk – it was a fun challenge to figure out how my friends and I talk and write it down. The same principle applied when I had to choose the different settings; the locations and settings should be realistic and relatable, but still be different from each other, to show that secrets will be passed everywhere.
Assuming that you have different skill sets – Holger you as the director and Oliver as producer – are your roles clearly defined or do they cross over considerably?
Both: The roles are definitely clearly defined, and we each have our areas of responsibility. But since we work side-by-side every day, we are constantly using each other. In that way we are both a part of the creative and the production process, but we respect each others skill sets. We both seek experience and knowledge in all the different parts of making a movie, so we often learn from each other.
How would you describe your creative process – are you in accord most of the time about film making decisions and how do you work out a solution if there is a disagreement?
Holger: We have worked together everyday on pre to post-production at Bacon, so we work out any disagreements straight away. We have known each other for four years, so nothing is left unsaid, which has been a huge advantage for our collaboration! Oliver is always honest with me, and if he thinks my ideas are bad, he says so without having to think about saying it in a nice way. Being able to communicate without a filter has saved us a lot of time!
Oliver: I’m a strong believer in honesty. It has played an essential role in my relationship with Holger. If you don’t dare to disapprove of your partner’s ideas, you’ll just end up with a terrible movie. We thought long and hard about how it should be revealed to Jakob, that the secret Peter told him, had spread. Before coming up with the hairdresser idea, I suggested that he should be in a beauty salon getting a Brazilian wax or something like that. The scene could have been humorous, but it could also have given off the wrong idea and we didn’t want to operate in a slapstick manner. I’m thankful now that Holger told me to shut up and go for a walk to clear my thoughts.
Did the shoot go according to plan?
Oliver: Considering that the plan we made was only based on our gut feeling, everything went better than we could have hoped for. One of the “funnier” and cooler experiences we had, was after the first day of shooting. We were in Copenhagen shooting the party scene. We started shooting at noon and did not finish until around midnight. Holger and I cleaned the apartment and went to bed at around 3 am. Unfortunately for us all the radiators were broken and it was late October, so it was freezing cold. It felt like it was below zero degrees in the apartment, so to keep warm Holger and I had to share the same quilt that night. It was quite cozy, but I’m glad I knew my director as well as I did – not sure if it would have been quite as fun if he was a total stranger.
Holger: I especially remember one episode where two actors couldn’t stop laughing for almost an hour. In the beginning we all thought it was funny, but everyone behind the camera was getting tired and we had to move to a new location. They simply couldn’t stop laughing no matter what we did. I remember that particular moment as the most critical in the shoot, which may mean that the production went very successfully.
What were the main challenges of making the film and how did you resolve them?
Holger: Well besides translating my Danish answers to your questions into English, there have been a few key challenges 😉
It was the first time we’ve worked with an actual budget and crew, so adapting to these new production standards was a challenge for Oliver and me. For me as a director, the biggest challenge was definitely to shoot great dialogue with non-experienced actors with a limited time frame. It meant that we had to practice a lot with all the actors, especially the two main characters. We live close to each other so for many weeks we met in the evening after dinner and rehearsed the lines. My parents didn’t know that we were making a short film, and they thought we were insane when they heard Anton and William one evening saying the same phrases over and over again. But it required a lot of time and preparation, which I am obviously really glad we did!
Oliver: As a producer, one of my main challenges was keeping the costs down. I had some difficulties along the way, especially on the last shooting day, after people had barely slept and shooting had gone on for 13 hours. Everyone was exhausted, which also resulted in us scoring three parking tickets, two of which were for the same car within 15 minutes. How that was possible, I still can’t wrap my head around, but that definitely played a part in tearing our budget apart.
What were the key lessons you learnt from the production?
Oliver: At the start of all this, I had no idea where to begin or how to produce a film. I just started somewhere and began working from there on. During filming, I had not consulted with any of the film workers besides Holger, and we had to make an estimated guess on how long we would spend shooting at each location. Fortunately everything went well, and luckily everybody had enough time to set up their equipment for shooting. Even though we managed well, I learned that in the future it might be better to communicate with the film crew before hand, to make sure their needs were being met.
Eventually our jumbled puzzle fell into place. Though planning can be a good idea, I am fond of the idea, “learning by doing”. We have gained extreme amounts of experience from working this way and this working method resulted in the piece we ended up with. In the end, if you combine a great idea, a love for filmmaking and a great friendship, that cocktail can get you a long way.
How did you go about casting the actors and what was the criteria you were looking for in the characters?
Holger: All the actors are actually friends of Oliver and mine who wanted to help us out. But I still had casting sessions with several friends, to see who was more comfortable reading a script and being on a camera. Jakob (Anton Amtrup – the guy at the hairdressers) was actually the least natural performer on camera when I cast him, but I decided to go with him because of his brilliant facial expressions.
I have worked with some of the actors/friends before, but as mentioned it was definitely one of the biggest challenges to make the dialogue feel natural and well-paced with non-experienced actors. Communication is very easy and obviously the atmosphere on set is very nice when working with my friends as actors.
Are you planning to make another film together?
No Doubt About It!!! 😉
Please list five inspirations that have connected with you each recently:
¥ “Aida” – Elton John Musical
¥ Prince returning to Spotify
¥ Roskilde Festival
¥ La La Land
¥ How it was possible for US courts to overrule the president of The United States’ travel ban