Tea time with Interiør
Why did you choose this particular title?
I wish I knew. As with all creative decisions, it’s mostly a gut response, an instinct thing. I could offer some intellectual justification for the title, but that would be a bore. Can’t even remember when the idea came to me. It has been the name since the beginning though. I toyed with a few others options after post-production, but “Interior” stuck. Probably because of its spaciousness as a word and as a title. It can mean a lot of different things.
Set within the confines of a building, the film feels claustrophobic and dark. Can you tell us about your use of light and darkness to convey the relationship between the son and mother?
I can’t fully account for what Greta Zozula (my cinematographer) and I were up to with the lighting, as these “decisions” are generally made outside of conscious view. I had a general vision for the film’s lighting at the start though, which she and I sharpened on a scene-to-scene basis. Looking at the film now, I can see that the pretense of a “normal” life or relationship between mother and son is kept up (but barely) during the daylight scenes, and then unravels at night, when each of their deprivation and longing come out.
How did you cast the young actor?
Well, I originally intended (and tried) to make the film in Norway. And then in Denmark. Before ultimately finding the locations I wanted in New York City (where I grew up). I decided to still set the film in Oslo though – I really wanted to work with Ane Dahl Torp (who plays the mother). Anyway, I met a wonderful casting director named Annette Grunnet while I was scouting in Copenhagen, and so I asked her if she could look for boys in Denmark while I looked for boys with Emer O’Callaghan (our US casting director) in New York. A week later, Annette sent me three tapes. The first one I looked at was Jens Iversen. I knew right away he was the kid. We spent weeks after that looking at more boys just to exhaust all options – but it was always going to be Jens. I couldn’t have made the film without him, without Annette, and without Jens’ wonderful family (and mother Marlene) who came to New York to make the film with us.
What led you to explore that particular subject matter?
While I was doing research for my last film, DeKalb Elementary, I read a book called One of Us by Asne Seierstad. The book is about Anders Breivik and Norway during his lifetime. I became very interested in (and saddened by) details of his early life, particularly his relationship to his mother. I suppose you could say that Interiør was loosely – very loosely – inspired by Breivik, but my story and the characters are fiction.
What genres would you like to explore as a filmmaker? What subjects would you like to tackle?
There aren’t any particular genres I want to work in, or subject matters I’m eager to tackle. I take one film at a time. I’m currently writing something set in America in the 1940s concerning matters of race, but I haven’t looked beyond that script yet. Once I’m finished I’ll wait for the next subject or character to find me.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
Yes. With shorts the budgets are small, and so I function as the primary creative (writer/director) as well as the “studio,” as it were. As a result, I have total control, which is to say, I have total creative freedom. In all areas of production: casting, editing, etc. In features, for example, a director has to negotiate “final cut” (or final approval of the edit) into their contract. In short films, this is a given.
Interiør was shown in International Competition.