Editor’s Note: This is one of several interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
Directors: Alexander Brøndsted, Antonio Tublén
Screenwriters: Antonio Tublén, Alexander Brøndsted
Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Tuva Novotny, David Dencik, Ghita Nørby, Dejan Cukic, Jesper Christensen
Synopsis: Henry is that unassuming, innocuous guy that you know, but actually know nothing about. He has been living by the book: stable job, good girlfriend, marriage on the horizon. But the "safe life" that he has been working to achieve (with the aid of his psychologist) implodes one day when he loses both his job and his girlfriend. His best friend convinces him to abruptly leave for Spain to open a restaurant, but before he can go, he must tie up some loose ends. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Henry ends up caught in a chain of bizarre events that involves feminist performance artist Marie, a strip club, a big bag of steroids, and Ikea.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Antonio Tublén and my motto is “live slow – die old”, but I guess I've chosen the wrong profession for that. So I have to come up with a new motto. A lot of sleepless nights go into that. Anyway - born and raised in Sweden but now living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Trying to get my daughters to call me “President” but no success so far even if I bribe them with candy. Speaking of candy – I LOVE licorice. I´m addicted to it….among other things.
My name is Alexander Brøndsted (Broendsted) I'm Danish as the strange letter in my last name reveals, and have lived all my life in Copenhagen. My father is a portrait photographer and my mother is a sculptor. When I was a kid I swore that I didn’t want to do any thing creative… Now a days I've stooped making promises I can't keep.
We are a duo directorial team. More eyes, more brains and more balls!
What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?
We both had this dream about making movies. But in order to get some food on the table we both ended up doing television. That's how we meet and instantly started talking about film. So we said goodbye to television and started making short films.
Doing shorts we didn't have to be so “nice” as with television so first there was short with a mass murder on a restaurant with poison and then a short about a nice posh lady getting killed by a bowling ball. That was fun and we learned a lot. Then we moved on to a longer short that was a meta romantic comedy with a bunch of twists.
What prompted the idea for your film and what excited you to make you undertake it?
We always had this feature film idea that we wanted to do. It had been marinating in our brains for quite some time. We wanted to do it no matter what. We just had to tell this story. Worst case scenario was to shoot in on a über cheap video camera and more or less do everything our self. Lucky for us (and the audience) Zentropa (Lars Von Trier´s company) came along and wanted to play with us. Fast forward the boring financing part and then we got a greenlight!
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making your film.
We had a tiny budget and 5 weeks to shoot it. And there’s a lot of locations and it was shot in 5 cities and in 3 countries. So we realized we had to be really effective. We then decided to shoot most of it on stedicam with the bare minimum of lightning. Made a storyboard for the whole film and then went bananas and shot it. We were very well prepared – we always are. And having a great team and fantastic actors sure helped a lot. Though the food wasn’t that good. Hmm…
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?
Money? Well we didn’t have much of that. But apart from that, shortening the script to a length that was “realistic” for the budget was a challenge. A lot of darlings had to be killed. There were so many of them it was more like a genocide.
How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?
Just being able to finish a film is a success. We salute everybody who has done that. Everything that comes after that is a bonus. One can always hope for that the films you make get appreciated and that they get stuck somehow on people. Gives them something to think about and move on in a better direction in their lives. And as for our goals as filmmakers, its to make fantastic films that gives people something to think about and move on in a better direction in their lives.
What are your future projects?
We got some great ideas under development. Today it’s a dark children's movie, yesterday it was a strange semi sci-fi comedy about love and the day before that a vivid horror film. The only thing we’re sure about is not to mix them all together. So now we just need to decide on which one of them should be next and start the circus all over again. Now we’ve tried Swedish and Danish so maybe English could be fun.