Young Filmmaker Interview: Iver Jensen

DadminFilm World, Young Filmmakers

Iver Jensen cover photo

Name: Iver Jensen
Age: 18
Hometown: Stokmarknes, Norway
Links to My Work
My website: http://www.iverjensen.com
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user16986120
WRM: http://weremembermoments.com
Random fact about myself: I have a green toothbrush.
One sentence of why you make films: I make films because I have to.

1. When did you first know you wanted to pursue filmmaking? Tell us about your first experiences with filmmaking.

I’m not actually sure when I first knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I think I’ve always loved good stories – beginning from the time when my dad would read classic books from his childhood to me before bed and then when I really got into watching a movie every Saturday night.

I had an awakening when I discovered how to make animations – making my “dead” Legos come alive. When my first “big” animation won the award for Best Junior Film at the biggest youth film festival in Norway, and I stood there on the stage accepting the big trophy, that was one of those moments that I think was quite defining. A point of no return.

2. So we finally met in person at NFFTY in Seattle. Can you tell me about your experiences traveling to film festivals?

That’s an open question. I’m not sure I can provide a short answer.

The last year has been crazy. I’ve had crazy opportunities as a young filmmaker. And I’ve grown so much as a person and as a filmmaker. Many thanks to the film festivals to which I have traveled.

I live in quite a remote place, which is tremendously awkward in getting to and from other countries. It takes forever traveling. But the worst thing is the cost. I’d never have afforded going to NFFTY if I had to pay for it myself. But over the past year, I realized people and organizations are willing to help young artists travel to film festivals. It is very important that such people can help because it is crucial for young filmmakers like me, you [Kira], and many of those reading this interview, to have the opportunity to travel to film festivals and meet other people of the same age, all burning for the same thing… to be able to talk to industry professionals and get a glimpse into what the business is actually like and, last but not least, be able to watch lots of films. That is super duper important for me and for all other young filmmakers. We have the internet, which is awesome, but film festivals are the real deal.

Extras didn’t show up. Our line-producer in Iceland had forgotten about lots of props. And there was suddenly a swimming competition camp at the school where we were going to shoot. Iver Jensen

3. Can you tell us a bit about your current project and what it was like filming in Iceland?

At the moment, I have two films in the works (and loads of ideas). One film with the working title Limbo is about to go into pre-production as I’ve just finished the latest draft of the script. The log line goes like this: after a tragic accident, Christoffer has to choose between his now disabled and care-needing girlfriend and new, vigorous woman he meets during his sorrow. I’m in talks with possible crew members and possible financiers before we put out a call for auditions. I’m quite excited to see the direction the project takes! I hope to have it done by the end of January [2016] so that it’s ready for NFFTY.

The shoot for We Remember Moments in Iceland was an adventure. There is way too much to tell to fit it into an interview like this but I can give you a short summary. Before I arrived in Akureyri in the north of Iceland, I was worried about the chemistry between the actors. But they blew me away. They had so much fun together and gave convincing performances in front of the camera.

However, all the other things that I hadn’t worried about got complicated. Extras didn’t show up. Our line-producer in Iceland had forgotten about lots of props. And there was suddenly a swimming competition camp at the school where we were going to shoot. We had to improvise a lot and make a number of changes on set. Nothing went as expected, both for better and for worse. I now have lots of good material for the edit; I just have to find the best, possible way of presenting it coherently. The whole project is open source. Everything is online. If you are interested in more detail about the filming experience specifically or about the project, in general, you can find it at: http://weremembermoments.com

4. I’ve noticed something you’re involved with called Iver’s Angels. Can you tell us about that?

Iver’s Angels is a project we’ve been working on during all of this past August as kind of a summer job. Three girl friends of mine and I had this idea. We drove around to the 44 municipalities in our country in 25 days and produced different content for TV, web, and radio, to hopefully make the youth interested in politics, aware of the municipality and country elections this Fall.

NRK, the Norwegian national broadcast channel (by far the biggest in Norway, like Norway’s equivalent of the BBC) bought our idea and employed us. That’s huge. NRK was taking a tremendous chance in trusting and investing in a group of teenagers. But luckily and happily, they were super satisfied with us. I missed the first two weeks of school because of this project. It was super stressful at times. We were working from the time we got up in the morning until we went to bed in the night and we only had one day off for the whole month. Nevertheless, it was an incredible month I wouldn’t change for anything.

We drove around to the 44 municipalities in our country in 25 days and produced different content for TV, web, and radio…Iver Jensen

5. Can you tell us about an unexpected, exciting, eye opening or funny experience you’ve had while working on a film? Feel free to tell us about more than one.

I had a real eye-opening experience about directing and casting while working on We Remember Moments. Because it was quite challenging doing everything in Iceland. The film is set in an Icelandic town and we shot on location there. And Icelandic is the spoken language in the film, which I don’t speak. I could only go there once before the shoot. We went there in March to host auditions and find locations. When all the auditioning youths were done, we just had to pick the ones that felt the best, as we didn’t have time for call-backs; we were leaving the next day. I just had time to gather the three chosen ones to have a short talk and a few improvisation exercises with them before we had to leave. But that meeting didn’t go very well or, at least, that’s how I felt. Because they were all so shy towards me and each other. And one of them told my producer he didn’t like one of the others. I was super nervous about how this was going to turn out while I sat on my plane back to Norway. As the weeks went by, leading up to the shoot, I talked a lot with each one of the three boys. I pushed our Icelandic producer to get them together so that they could get to know each other, but logistics and communication problems ended up spoiling the meeting.

When I arrived to shoot the film, the three leads had only met once more – and that meeting was super awkward! I was really doubting my casting. For the first scene with all three of them, we had to drive for some time to the location. I told my producer to pick up the two boys there had been some tension between. And guess what? They had awesome chemistry after all and they blew me away when I called “Action”.

What I learned from this was:

  1. It’s true when people say that directing is (almost) 90 percent casting,
  2. Trust your instincts and intuition during the casting, and
  3. Actors have to feel right for the role when you meet them.

At least that’s what I experienced during this production.

6. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to another young filmmaker?

There are so many good advice out there, and I guess most young filmmakers have heard most of the really good ones. I’m inclined to say: Make films. Because that’s how you learn – learning by doing, you know, and finding your own style and creative voice and stuff. But I’d like to add another piece of advice that I haven’t heard filmmakers talk that much about and that is to prepare for everything before you walk on set. Because, at least on low budget films, most things will not go as you planned. Whether that means things go wrong, like people not showing up for some reason, or you or your collaborators just find out on set that there are much better ways to solve a particular shot or scene or sequence, than you’d originally thought. You have to trust all of your crew with all your life, but always be prepared for something going wrong.

Kira Bursky

The Interviewer

About Kira

Kira Bursky, the founder of Big Little Filmmaker, is a nineteen year old filmmaker who has been pursuing her dreams for the past six years. A graduate of the Interlochen Academy of the Arts where she was a student of the school’s filmmaking program, Kira was a 2014 National YoungArts Finalist as well as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts Semi-Finalist and received the top prize for Best Overall Film at the 2014 All American High School Film Festival for We’re Okay.

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