Harald Sandø is an award winning film maker and the the main director, which also edits and shoots. He does a lot by himself, but teams up with other talented film makers when necessary.
There are a lot of independent filmmakers with their own production companies out there. What do you think distinguishes SANDØ FILM from the rest?
I guess, the fact that I am me and I have my own specific ‘style’, that is unique to me. Besides, I have an open source film project about a positive future, Waking Up, which I can’t say is very common. Most sci-fi films are more about doom and gloom… I also really don’t try to compete and set my self apart that much, but try rather to collaborate when possible. So far, I am only myself in my company, and I haven’t had a huge ambition to become more either. I just started ‘SANDØ FILM’ to have a company where I could host my own productions. I constantly collaborate with others on different productions. This is also something I find very good about the independent film industry, that there is a huge collaborative spirit, which I like. That said, the ‘Waking Up’ movie project will not be hosted on my company alone. This is a big production that requires an international collaboration of larger production companies.
Do you think the internet has been ultimately beneficial for independent filmmakers and production companies? And if so, why?
Oh yes. Without the internet, things would have been much more difficult. I, personally, wouldn’t know what to do. My main project, the Waking Up movie, got all it’s followers through the internet. I can also showcase my work to new potential clients on my website, easily send out information on email, network on social media, etc. Social media btw, is just as important as ‘the internet’ itself. Without social media like Facebook, getting out with new projects would have been much more difficult. Social media has really opened up the eyes of the public for more independent work, and thus opened the path for more independent work to reach the public.
There are a lot of people on the internet who call themselves “independent filmmakers” and “directors”. However most of the material they produce exists solely on the internet and is largely ignored by the professional industry. My question is would you consider these people actual filmmakers? Or are they simply using the internet as a form of escapism?
It is quite clear what kind of ‘film maker’ anyone is online. It shows in the quality of their work. I think there are lots and lots of good productions coming out on Vimeo, for instance. But you can’t call all the folks on YouTube (or Vimeo, for that matter) for ‘film makers’ of course. A lot are using YouTube for ‘escapism’, while the more serious ones might be easier to find on Vimeo. Making film is still costly, even though the equipment has become cheaper and more accessible. It is also a craft that has to be learned. Anyone can call themselves anything online, but it all comes down to what they actually present. Whether the films are on festivals, TV or cinema, or only online, is of less importance to me. After all, you can get a much larger audience online faster, cheaper and easier than on any of the other channels combined. And online is where the public is. Besides, the ‘professional industry’ is highly represented online, making corporate videos, online tv programs, online films, series, commercials, music videos, etc. etc. Only being online does not mean your are not a professional.
SANDØ FILM have a very diverse portfolio. Was this a conscious decision during the founding of the company to produce both narrative and corporate films?
Absolutely. Most film makers who attempts to make a living from film must be open for commercial films as well. For me it has been an education, starting with shorter corporate films and music videos and building myself up from there. I have studied the different skills of film making, including directing, filming, cutting, dramaturgy and screenwriting during this process.
I very much enjoyed the scene in your short film “Waking Up”. I was particularly intrigued by the female character’s revelation that there is no money in the future and that people simply take what they need. Is this a future that you would like to see happen?
Most definitely. I have all my life wondered about our present system with money and rich and poor. When I was small, I tried to think of a ‘system’ where everyone could prosper, and I couldn’t for my bare life see how that could happen when everyone was forced to buy and sell and compete with each other all the time. At the same time a was interested in science fiction and was puzzled over how most sci-fi films were about doom and gloom. No one depicted a positive future for this planet.
When I discovered The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement in 2008, I was completely taken aback. They proposed a moneyless global resource based economy, and even though I was very fed up by the monetary system, I couldn’t imagine a world without money, before then. Ever since I could not put the idea away, and have tried to envision how such a world will actually work and look like since that day. I got the idea for the Waking Up movie a year or two later, made one scene from the unwritten script, and made the project open source.
As you know, Waking Up is about a positive future, unlike many of the doom and gloom films. It is not a ‘perfect’ future, though, but a future still under development. You can read about it on www.wakingupmovie.com. It will have it’s flaws, only much much less flaws than our contemporary world. In a moneyless world, our motivations will be completely different.
Community will be most prevalent, and helping each other, the community and the world in general will be our main motivation. Developing our personal selves, our interests and skills, traveling and exploring, growing our own fresh food, taking care of the earth and develop society, art, science and technology, and be custodians and stewards instead of owners and merchants will be our main occupations. Might sound like utopia, but many people already think this way today, and long for this world. So…maybe not so impossible?
If there is no money in the future then there will probably be no film industry…?
No film ‘industry’, but a huge film culture, along with all the other cultures of arts. What is so prevalent in the film industry of today is how many people are working for free and chipping in their voluntary time with no monetary reward. How can that be? It must be because they like making movies. This goes for all the other arts as well, by the way. Thousands of bands, singers, artists, dancers and painters do what they do solely for the love of it. And this will be our future’s credo: ‘for the love of it’.
What is the typical budget you work with on your films?
My present films have budgets from 0 to about 25.000 USD. I have been employed on films with higher budgets, though. Waking Up movie will have an estimated budget of 10 million USD, unless we can collect more.
Please tell us more about some of the upcoming projects SANDØ FILM are working on? Do you have any feature films in the works?
That would be the Waking Up movie, which is an open source movie about a positive moneyless future set about 100 years from now. It is about a cancer ridden business man who choose to freeze himself after clinical death in the hopes that he will wake up some day and be cured. He wakes up in a future very different from what he was expecting. The whole plot and the first 27 pages of script can be read and commented upon on http://www.wakingupmovie.com. You can also come with your own suggestions to the script. The present plot is quite full of conflict and drama, despite the positive future it is played out in. Films are made up of some kind of conflict and drama, and Waking Up is no exception.
There is a crowd funding campaign coming up soon that will go towards funding the finishing of the script and the making of a new short film from a scene from the script. The purpose of this is to show future investors more of what the film will be like, and secure additional funding for the whole film.
What advice would you give independent and aspiring filmmakers looking to pursue a career in film and media?
Don’t think about yourself, but think about what you can do for others and the world with your skills and film making. This is what I have learned in my life, and has gotten me the furthest. It is much more fun and liberating too. When this is settled, read, read, read and read film literature, manuscripts, articles and books about film, but also fiction books. They will show you how to build up a story and characters. But of course, watch films too. If you want to be a director, you have to be able to build up images in your head that does not exist yet. And you do that by reading, not watching films. Because by only watching films, the images are already there for you, but by reading, you are making up the images yourself. Then, combine your own images with film images. And, of course, make films. Just make them. Don’t think too much about it. Try also to get on bigger productions as a function. Be it sound person or responsible for the extras or catering or whatever interests you or skills you have. Then study everything you can on the set, how everything functions. Now, all that said, a ‘career in film and media’ can be anything from being a film critic, to being an actor, a director, producer, make up artist, camera person, editor, script writer, gaffer, etc. etc. You of course have to try and find your field and go for that.
Final question. Would you consider filmmaking an ‘art’? Or is it just another type of business?
Film making is most definitely an art. But as with all arts, it has a business aspect as well. As you know, our world is (currently) run by money, so the business aspect has to be there for the artists to pay their bills and the corporations to make their money. But that is about to change…. notch notch. 😉 The new world will not be run by money, but by passion.