Safety measures at work, on set for Billie
Your childhood aspiration was to become a stand-up comedian. What set you on the path to filmmaking instead?
I briefly went to a performance art school and each morning we had had to move around for a lot of hours. I’m not a morning person and I’m also lazy, so I prefer things where you don’t have to move a lot. That made me think I was better suited for filmmaking. You sit down a lot, which is lovely.
Following snapshots from Bine’s scrapbook files
Your work is characterised by surrealist and deadpan humour, which can often be a bit uncomfortable for the viewer – is that a Danish trait? Who or what do you find funny?
Last week, I finally got to watch ‘The Burden’ by Niki Lindroth von Bahr. I thought that was pretty funny. And I suppose that can be uncomfortable for some, because of how honest it is. But I think realising how bland life really is and seeing the fun in that is wonderful. I also watched ‘Dramatic & Mild’ by Nastia Korkia the other day. That’s the type of short that gives you so many questions and absolutely no answers. I like that. You’re also not really sure if you’re supposed to laugh or not. But I think when you don’t know you’re being funny, that’s the best funny. Yorgos Lanthimos, Richard Ayoade (‘The Double’, ufff), Cohen brothers, Maren Ade, my mom—are all masters of nailing this type of humour. From the commercial spectrum is one of Biscuits’ own, Andreas Nilsson, who has birthed so much commercial gold it’s actually a little terrifying. Vedran Rupic is another favourite of mine and Tom Kuntz is also pretty high up on the list of directors I wish was me.
What inspired you to branch out into directing after working as a creative at Wiedens?
Meetings. And not enough doing. I missed being hands-on with things. I know I said I’m lazy, but in an agency there’s a really long way from idea to execution and my patience had a tough time waiting that long to get stuff done. In directing you get to skip all of that and go directly into the fun stuff, which is creating.
We love the lo-fi, almost home-crafted aesthetic and the imaginative production design in your early films such as ‘Say Aaahhh’ for Magasin department store. Where do you find creative inspiration and what does the creative process look like for you?
It wasn’t actually almost home-crafted, it was entirely home-crafted! I lived in New York at the time, but we shot it in Denmark, so I stayed at a summerhouse my mom was living in and did it all by hand, as I couldn’t afford a set designer. My artistic skills, hand-wise, haven’t changed a lot since I was 5 years old, so that is why it looks a bit like something that was made in a kindergarten. But we can just pretend it’s because I don’t like things to be overly polished.
If I had to put a visual on my creative process, it’d be a Pollock painting. Just a lot of splatter. You can almost get the idea from my desktop, which I think would give most people anxiety. But then it’s about compressing the splatter and making it into something more digestible for the viewer.
Your recent brand film for Billie is a tongue-in-cheek riposte to the sexist advertising tropes around women’s razors. Can you tell us a bit about the brief and the decision to frame the spot as a retro-style ad?
Billie has their own in-house creative team, who are a bunch of very talented humans. They made me feel a big part of that team and provided the brief pretty early on, so it ended up being a super collaborative process. The decision of framing it in a retro-style way was based on an insight of Billie embracing new ways of doing it the old way. So we looked at some old classic salesman references, Franco Cozzo being the main one. What I like about these videos is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Billie don’t take themselves too seriously either, so it seemed the right fit.
Now that you’re signed to Biscuit, what kinds of storytelling opportunities do you hope to pursue in future commercial (or personal) projects? Any particular brands you’d like to work with?
I would love to do an Old Spice or Skittles commercial. That will be a while into the future, but one can hope. And then I’m working towards getting a semi-personal project for a brand called Pura Utz done, that I’ve written a story for I’d like to make. This will hopefully be in the nearer future. A friend just sent me a hardcore heavy metal band that has a very deadpan way of performing. I thought that was an interesting contrast, so maybe I’ll do something for them one day. Although that will be a tough one in the edit. Not the most catchy of music to listen to over and over again. Depends on what you’re into, I guess.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently finishing up on two commercial projects and then I’m working on a shoot in Copenhagen at the end of this month. Keeping busy for a lazy person…
Interview by Selena Schleh
CDs: Noemie Le Coz, Jessica Shriftman
Head of Production: Deb Rosen
Director & Editor: Bine Bach
DP: Kevin Hayden
Writer: Lily Miesmer
Producer: Disco Meisch
Set Design: Alicia Sciberras, Alvin Manalo
1st AD: Shad Melvin
2nd AD: Zach Buchner
1st AC: Yuya Kudo
2nd AC: Sandy Ismail
Media Manager: Eva Evans
Gaffer: Derek Sexton
Magasin du Nord, Say Aaahhh!!!
Written & directed by Bine Bach
Starring Catharina Pedersen
Produced by Iben Søtang
Cinematography by Jonas Blond
1st AC Frank Nielsen
Gaffer Jesper Bach
Gaffer David Draad
Editing by Bine Bach
Styling by Sigrid Rentse
Set design by Josefine Wiell Bisgaard Mikkelsen & Bine Bach
Head of Production Christina Bach Larsen
Makeup & hair by Pia Poulsen
On-set sound by Kåre Toft Sørensen
Production assistant & BTS Emma Sennels
Production assistant Rebekka Hove
Color grading by Sarah Salzmann
Sound design by Catrine Le Dous
Chief Crab Søren Refsgaard Jørgensen
Music by Upright