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21st March 2018
Filip tops
Title of film: Olsson, U
Director: Filip Nilsson
Production Company: Skunk
Skunk director Filip Nilsson rockets up our charts of most-loved directors with his bloody funny take on everything - from his music videos to Volvo trucks and hot dogs

Being the son of a policeman and teacher sounds very conventional but your work certainly isn’t. Were there any early indications in your childhood that you were going to become a story-teller and filmmaker?

Not really, but as my dad was a policeman I managed to borrow the Police Station’s VHS camera over the weekends a couple of times. It was great and I learned a lot. Unfortunately this stopped after a while since I mixed up the VHS tapes. My last film with that camera turned out to be a pretty intense mix of interrogations with real criminals and long takes of my half naked 12 year old friends riding tricycles. 

Directing for Olssen has been an on-going collaboration along with your star, the very fabulous Hector Tico Donatte. What came first – meeting Tico or the crazy wonderful, albeit very simple, idea of having a shirtless hunk showing off?

I meet Tico on set for a commercial in Spain four years ago. He was working as a bodyguard/escort for a celebrity. I loved him at first sight. He was fun and totally shameless about himself. He also had an honest approach that I find rare with people that have built their whole life around their body and looks. He is a deep person with a lot of wisdom. I learned so much from him. We will hopefully shoot with him again in May. This time we will go and see his Russian friends on Ibiza… 

In fact you seem to have an on-going collaboration with brands as well, such as Statoil. To what extent do you become involved in writing the narratives for commercial work?

It’s more about finding great collaborators. It is teamwork to create advertising that people want to invest their time in watching. Especially when it comes to comedy work. It’s very hard to write funny ads… I always try to have a very open and honest conversation with the agency and their ideas. But it can only become extraordinary good if there is room for intuition and improvisation on set. And to get to that point it’s a matter of trust. Good agencies trust the directors they are hiring. 

Do you often edit your own work?

No. We couldn’t afford an editor for the latest music video. But I love the editing process and a word of advise to any aspiring filmmaker. Learn how to edit, it’s where the magic happens. 

Do you pre-prep to a fraction for your commercial work with storyboards, vfx worked out etc?  

The better prepped you are the more time you can get on set to play around and get those unexpected moments / shots that make the whole difference. But I’m a terribly bad storyboard artist. I have used my daughter Annie (8 years old) several times to make sketches of my ideas. She is a great collaborator and she doesn’t cost anything. 

Do you think the Scandinavian humour travels to the States and the UK – or do you think they all have different sensibilities?

Growing up on herring and six hours of daylight has its benefits. That dark side of us (not only the weather) has given us something that is unique. I think we are forced to use our imagination more then others to survive the harsh winters. If I had grown up in California I would still be sitting on a beach chewing on an avocado (my favourite fruit by the way. It came to Sweden 1998).  

Humour is universal. I have more or less the same reel everywhere in the world which is a good sign not only for me but also for mankind in general. 

What’s your favourite part of the directing process? 

Casting is by far the most rewarding (and anxious) part of the process. To find the right actor or person is crucial. Several of my films includes people that are doing their first ever performance in front of the camera, I find amateurs very attractive. It might have to do with the fact they don’t question me as much as established actors… 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I wish I could share my folder ACTORS LIES AT CASTING, but I can’t due to respect for these individuals. But this is a clip that I can’t stop watching.  What makes it even better is that it’s from Norway (35 medals in the winter Olympics and counting…)