In the latest (but not the final) Spending Time With…Season 2 article, I struck up a Twitter conversation with filmmaker Kristian A. Söderström, whos latest film Videoman is premiering at this years Arrow Video Frightfest.
Kristian took the time to look over the Spending Time With…questions and send me back these great answers which Im hoping you’ll enjoy as much as I did. Many thanks to Kristian for taking time out for me, and wishing him all the very best for the up and coming Arrow Video Frightfest event and the wonderful journey that Videoman is on.
Ennio (Stefan Sauk), a giallo-obsessed VHS collector with a drinking problem finds a highly collectable video tape that could solve his money problems and save him from eviction. He makes a deal with a shady, anonymous collector before realising the video has been stolen.
So begins Ennio’s desperate hunt for the black-gloved perpetrator while, along the way, he meets Simone (Lena Nilsson), an alcoholic woman obsessed with the 80s. As Ennio searches for the tape and begins to lose a grip on reality, his and Simone’s mutual love of nostalgia draws them together. Can they find redemption in each other?
Dario Argento meets Mike Leigh in Kristian A. Söderström’s feature film debut – a darkly comic, creepy and incredibly moving celebration of both gialli and social realism. Fans of genre cinema, art cinema, and collectors will find Videoman an absolute blast.
When people ask you ‘so, what do you do?’ How do you introduce yourself?
That is often a question that comes with a bit of angst, because it makes me question my own status, which I hate. Being a filmmaker is a lifestyle, for me. Sometimes I feel like a winner, sometimes I feel like a looser. Usually though, I tell them that I make movies. Mostly commercial or corporate stuff, preferably shorts or features. The last couple of years I usually finish of by telling them that I have a feature film called Videoman in the pipe…
What’s the first thing you do when you get on ‘set’
I try to find a spot where I can be alone to drink a cup of coffee and think through what lies ahead. I also remind myself to enjoy the dream of being on an actual film set.
Do you have any traditions that you have when you are involved in a project? I like to buy a new note book, dedicated to this project. This book usually gets abandoned when I get really involved and start writing on my computer. But I still like the feeling of starting a new with an analogue object. I also like to have post it notes for building the structure of my screenplays on a board. These post its should be in a color that feels synonym with the story I want to tell. It’s like a first aesthetic choice.
What was the most recent book you read?
Altered States: The autobiography of Ken Russell.
Out of all the projects youve been involved with which one do you feel the most proud of?
Videoman, without a question. I think we achieved something great with a minimal budget. It’s my first feature and it’s a film that I would love to see. Mission accomplished.
What’s the most ‘starstruck’ you have been?
Being in a hotell night club and being told that Roman Polanski was in the local made me extremely starstruck. I met a person from his crew and got to know that Roman had retired to his room. I spent an hour trying to convince this person to let me say hi to Roman. I did not succeed.
What was one of the most memorable films you saw as a child?
“Psycho”. It traumatized me as well as informed me of the power of film.
What do you find the hardest part of your creative process and how do you deal with it?
To decide if an idea for a movie is a bad romance or the real deal is the hardest thing I face. When I look for an idea to turn into a script it usually takes a lot of thinking to come up with something that can hold my interest. When I do, I almost fall in love. It’s the greatest feeling. 50 percent of these times, this feeling passes after a few days and never comes back. If it stays, then I know I’m on to something that probably can endure the battle of writing a feature film script. To handle the disappointment of loosing interest in an idea, I usually try to wait a bit, before locking myself in with a computer. For me, the best ideas age gracefully.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you can remember being given and from whom?
Björn Runge, director of the up and coming “The Wife”, once told me that feeling superfluous on set can be a sign of good directing. I could not understand this at the time, because I loved to talk to the actors and analyze everything to death. I have come to understand that directing is much more rewarding if you leave some decisions hanging and allow yourself to be surprised sometimes.
If you could change one thing about the industry you are in, what would it be?
Many movies made in the 60s and 70s feel more modern and experimental in the way they are told then most films made to day. Movies of today tend to be more formulaic, generally. That is very sad to me. I wish producers and financiers would be more willing to try out new things.
Do you read reviews of projects you work on?
Yes I do. The experience of being reviewed by others is very new to me. A few years down the lane maybe my answer will change…
If you had to make a ‘bucket list’ of people you’d love to work with, tell me one name who would be on it?
Do you prefer day shoots or night shoots?
Day shoots. I love darkness but it is mentally tough filming during the night.
What is one of your most favourite locations you have filmed in?
The cellar in Videoman.
What film always makes you laugh?
What film scares you?
“Whistle and I’ll come to you”.
What film do you love that you feel most people might not be aware of?
“Moonlighting” (Jerzy Skolimowski 1982)
In your creative roles? What is the longest day that you’ve ever had?
Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from your films?
Have you ever gotten someone’s autograph? Which is the most memorable for you?
Vittorio Storaro, on the cover of my ”Footprints on the moon” Shamless dvd.