Interview: Hans Montelius

I interviewed Swedish Filmmaker Hans Montelius after he won the 2010 Shine Short Film Awards at The 16th Bradford International Film Festival. His winning short was entitled The Man with all the Marbles and depicted the extremes of a sibling rivalry extended into adulthood.

I spoke to him about his award, the difficulties of negotiating the festival circuit and his future plans as a director.

Craig Shaw: As an independent film-maker how hard is it to get even short films made?

Hans Montelius: It is very hard to get short films made. But at least it is doable. We have a great team of dedicated professionals who put their souls into making the best shorts we can. The goal is of course to make features. And that is very hard without any funding from film funds or independent investors. It is hard to be accepted as a film maker, but an award like this goes on long way to make it easier for us to get funding for our short films and for our feature projects.

Craig: The festival circuit is notoriously difficult to penetrate; how much work goes into finding platforms for your work? And what was your experience with the Bradford Film Festival?

Hans: I have a database with most of the film festivals around the world and I spend a lot of time analyzing film festivals and calculating which ones to send my films to. It really is a science and it has taken me a while to figure out how to get the most for our money. If it didn’t cost anything to send to festivals and didn’t take any time, then of course it would be much easier. But you really have to be selective with which film festival to send to. I think I have gotten the hang of it. The Man with all the Marbles, that won the Shine award, has been screened at 28 festivals and won three awards. And our latest film, that was just completed a month ago, has already been accepted to nine festivals and won an Award for Best International Short at the Uruguay International Film Festival.

I really enjoyed the Bradford Film Festival a lot. It was really generous of the film festival to invite me to the festival and pay for the trip from Sweden and pick me up at the airport. I felt like I was given VIP treatment. I just wish I could have stayed longer and gotten to know more people.

Craig: What were the central themes of your Shine Award winning short, The Man With All The Marbles?

Hans: The theme of The Man with all the Marbles is rivalry between the underdogs and successful people in our society, as manifested by the rivalry between the two brothers fighting for their inheritance. In movies, but not so often in real life, the underdog wins.

Craig: You said that your next film is to be a feature, how will that film be different from your previous endeavours?

Hans: It is much harder to make a feature than to make a short. The really hard part is the funding. I am actually working on two feature projects at the moment, one in Sweden and one in Hollywood. And there are big differences. In Sweden it’s all about getting support from the regional and state film funds. In the US it’s all about getting private investors, production companies and studios on board. And most of all it’s about getting a star. If you have a great script that a star wants to make, the film will get made. It’s that easy. And I hope that’s what we have.

Craig: Do you think that the European, (and specifically, British –if you have an opinion) film industries nurture up-and-comping film-makers, such as yourself?

Hans: I think the film industries in Europe try to nurture up and coming film makers the best they can, but I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on the script in Europe. As I said earlier, if you have a great script in the US, you can get your film made. We’ve got to learn to recognize, appreciate and reward great screenplays and great screenwriters in Europe. I think the Danes are very good at this.

For more info on Hans Montelius and the Cinemantrix team, please visit their website

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About craig shaw
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