REPRISE - Q&A with Joachim Trier
Movie interview by Neils Hesse
Interview at The Covent Garden Hotel in London
So I guess you've been doing this all day!
It's only been three today so this is the final one, the one that I will enjoy!
So was the art of film your second or first love?
I have made films since I was a kid. Like many other people I grew up with super 8 cameras. I made animations before I could write and did videos with my friends and stuff like that, but I didn't understand that I could sort of try to make a living out of it. I grew up in a film family, my parents work in film, so I guess it's the first love.
So are you happy with the end result of REPRISE or is there anything now that you've watched the film that you would like to change?
That's a hard question. Film is such a process oriented art form. There are so many millions of elements that come into play and are constantly changing. You have to try and keep focus on your intentions somehow. Half the time you don't really know what you're doing. You are aiming for something but everything is up against you. You have very little time as you have the process to consider, even just the weather - you want sun in your shot and you get rain! It's always the art of compromise, so I guess I'm pleased with the final shots. What's important to me now is what it means to an audience. I'm sort of done with it, I've wrapped it up and I'm setting it out there. I hope fingers crossed that it'll mean something to someone.
Did you get any pointers from Lars Von Trier?
No he's not a close relative, he's further out in my family.
If you were in my position, if you were critiquing this film, what genre would you put it in?
I would have a big problem putting it in a genre. I am not a big believer in genre. We are leaning up against a classical coming of age drama you know, in a way like a bunch of guys in a small city, traditionally like in I VITTELONI by Fellini but also in America like AMERICAN GRAFFITI, as well as THE LAST PICTURE SHOW or DINER from the eighties. Even AMERICAN PIE in some strange way is a part of that group friendship dynamic thing. I do however hope that we transcend that. I hope that we have done something that's new.
Do you intend to explore your acting side any more?
As an actor, no. I've been forced in front of the camera by being in film school, we had to direct each other.
Do you have a dream project?
I'm doing that next
Are you happy to talk a bit about what you're doing next?
No Not yet
Is there any favourite character in this film or any other films that you would say is comparable to yourself?
I think that you put a lot of yourself into your characters, at least I do. I co-wrote the film with an old friend of mine. It's not like we are one of the characters each, I think we try to connect with each of the characters. I'll give you an example. In the film there's like almost an antagonist, a guy they meet at a party and he's kind of an asshole so they don't like him. So we thought that if we make him just stupid it wouldn't be interesting so in fact I was actually considering playing that part myself. The stupidest person is what I thought... yes I could play that part. You need to love all the characters, understand their logic, you don't need to agree with them but you have to understand their logic.
Seeing as skateboarding is another of your passions and you have previously won a championship in it, do you have any plans to make a skateboarding film?
I have done, when I was in my teens. I made a lot of skateboarding videos, that's where I come from.
So you wouldn't want to make another one?
No but I hear rumours that Wim Wenders is doing one.
Given the chance would you direct a big action blockbuster which has a weak story, fantastic special effects and plenty of money?
No, I have been approached on big studio movies and I'm not interested. I want to do stuff that I have a very personal relationship with. I am not against action movies, maybe there's an interesting action movie to be done and I'll try to do that one, but it would have to be something that's a twisted version of a known genre. I am not looking to work with huge budgets because it limits your freedom in that too many people are looking to make their money back and so everyone does it safe.
Are there any British film actors you would want to work with?
That's a good question. I think that there are many interesting people, what's Ralph Fiennes doing at the moment? I'll tell you who, Christian Bale, a very, very interesting actor with an amazing ability for transformation.
So why did you choose to come and study film here in the UK?
The national film school was the main film school in the world that I wanted to get into so when I got an opportunity and I got through the workshops, it was almost like a reality show, first the interview and then a workshop and I got in. I needed to train my ability to work with actors. At the time I had made many short films but I didn't have the confidence to work with actors and I wanted to learn to work in English, so for me it was really a great opportunity to get in.
At the moment are you looking forward to watching any films in particular?
Paul Thomas Anderson's THERE WILL BE BLOOD, someone leaked a trailer on You Tube and it looks very, very interesting. I was fortunate enough to see a rough cut of the new Wes Andersen movie THE DARJEELING LIMITED, that's something to look forward to.
What was the hardest thing you had to deal with during the filming and editing of this film?
The limitations of finance and thereby the time, we had an extremely ambitious piece with many locations and many actors. We were shooting in Paris and Oslo and we had 45 days to do it! That is not bad these days, but it was tough, it was really packed to the brim, but I think one of the things that was most challenging and that I was most pleased about was using a cast of almost all non- professional actors and I was really nervous about it. There are a lot of people who had never been on a film set before let alone in front of a camera but they did well, I am very proud of them and I learnt a lot from all of them. It was a good experience but also very risky.
What's your favourite or most challenging scene in the film?
Favourite I wouldn't be able to say but challenging I'd have to say was when we did the sex scene I wanted to do a love scene that was complicated and was saying something about a relationship. Mostly in movies when people have sex it's just a fulfilment of love and then they cut away, but I wanted to show a break down of a relationship in that bedroom, a really sad and complicated scene and with two inexperienced actors we worked a lot on that.
What would you like people to feel after they've seen the film?
If I was able to say that in words I wouldn't be making movies I guess! But trying to go along with your question a bit... it's a tricky one. I definitely want people to be allowed to feel different things, that's a big thing for me, not to just go out and say well I felt that same kind of happiness or sadness that they felt from other movies. You almost wish when you make a film that people will have a contradictory emotional experience. I'm interested in the ambivalence that people will feel that AAH what a character did was right but was also wrong!
So are you comfortable making films in Norway for the foreseeable future or would you like to venture out to any particular location?
That's a good question. I want to work in London, New York, a city or urban movie would be interesting to explore so that might happen. I'm looking into the possibility of working with a more international cast.
I read that you were inspired by Woody Allen amongst others, but is there any one particular director who has really moved you?
Several, I'm a film buff. In fact I have just bought INLAND EMPIRE by David Lynch, so I'm looking forward to seeing that. These days, well we just lost Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman on the same day and to me those guys meant so much to European cinema and to World cinema, they were such great visual craftsmen and they're amazing with actors, they pushed the envelope in as far as what cinema could talk about. They are so many, If I really start you won't be able to stop me, there are too many film makers I admire.
So has the Norwegian Government been enabling to a young filmmaker like yourself?
I think it has. I think that it's important to give support that does not have to be given back because take Norway for example, it's a small language and so for anyone to do movies you need Government support. I think it's pretty good at the moment, I'm optimistic about it, give it time and I think that stuff will happen.
Who does the narration/ voice over in the film?
Eindride Eidsvold, he's an older Norwegian actor. He loves partying so he has quite a deep voice and when we did our main session he had just been partying the night before and didn't feel up to it, so he really struggled but something came out and it was all really interesting. I enjoy toying around with story telling, it's a scrapbook movie. I said with this one we're going to try different techniques and make a mishmash, not everyone's going to love it but I hope that people hang in there.
You weren't scared that the mishmash might get out of control?
That's the risk with this film that's why I'm so proud of getting it sold to like 28 countries. I was really scared and I'll be scared the next time but rather that than do something safe. I was never in a rock band when I was younger; you know I was a bad drummer so people always kicked me out of their bands. But now I have this group of people I normally work with and it's a good creative dynamic.
So you picked the songs?
Yes, that was in the script already. There's a lot of British music in it. I'm a big music fan and there's a Norwegian band called the White Birch which is sort of ambient music that we listened to whilst we were writing, in fact they did the score and we invented a rock band called Kommune in the film.