Canal180 is premiering “Nothing Ever Really Ends”, a short film by Jakob Rørvik — a writer and director currently based in Oslo, Norway. Selected for 2018 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Jakob is definitely a director you should keep an eye during 2018. Watch his film below and read our Q&A.
Seen over the course of three consecutive New Year’s Eves, a couple in their late 20’s that just can’t seem to quit one another, resolve to break up only to make up again. Can a broken record of hurt feelings and happy endings lead to a healthier relationship?
Canal180: How did it all start for you as a film director and writer?
Jakob Rørvik: As a kid I would borrow my father’s camcorder and make little stories with my LEGOs, as well as a James Bond “homage” called Jakob Bond, casting my younger brother as the Russian villain. Then in my late teens I signed up for a screenplay contest and got to produce my first short with a professional team.
Your film was screened at festivals like Cannes Cinéfondation, South By Southwest and Aspen and you also just had a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere. At which point in your career did things start to reach a quality level that made you achieve such happenings?
Studying directing at the UK’s National Film & Television School was a turning point, but every project feels like a step forward. I can look at things I did just a few years ago and be really frustrated with it.
After working for a while you also find a team that gels in a very particular and inspiring way. I’ve now collaborated with the amazing cinematographer Annika Summerson on a total of eight projects, including “Nothing Ever Really Ends”. Everyone mentioned in the credits made an important contribution to that film, but I also want to give a special shout-out to the editor Christian Siebenherz who set aside a lot of time and brought his deft touch and keen mind to the massive amount of rushes.
How do you balance the flow of what goes online or what’s kept for specific contexts?
With my short films I always do a period of festivals only. After that I’m keen to find some platform or context for the online release, it can too easily get lost in the noise of the place. With my short “My Friend Kills Time” I found a home at Nowness.com. With “Nothing Ever Really Ends” the Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere means that it can connect with a sizeable audience.
Even when working commercial, you’re language is pretty rad and you seem to have total freedom. How is it working with companies for commercial ads?
It’s a different game to making my own films, and the agency and the client always have a say, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be creative. I’ve had some real high points and a few low points in terms of my experiences, but you learn to be a real diplomat. And it’s always exciting to test out new equipment, figure out new directing strategies and play around with visual ideas.
You’re acting direction is flawless. How is the process towards picking the actors and turning them into such believable characters? In Nothing Ever Really Ends it kind of feels that is just a group of well known friends and that’s amazing to experience as a viewer!
Thank you! I’ve come to realise that the most important part of directing actors is getting the casting right, and for this film Kristin and Arthur brought so much of their intuition and personality to the parts. When the two met at the first audition that sense of reality was immediately there. Other than that I tend to subscribe to anything directing guru Judith Weston says. In this particular project I also made a point of casting the film before I completed the script. That made it possible for me to write with these two actors in mind. And yes; most of the smaller parts and extras know each other in real life. In fact, several of them will come for dinner at my place this New Year’s Eve.
Music seems to play a very important role in the movie — both as soundtrack and a presence in the character’s life. Why do you think that’s so important to you?
The mood of any given film is 50% image and 50% sound, and the right music for the right scene can make everything — the character psychology and the sociological representation — work or just completely fall apart. For this film, once I decided that Marius is a musician, I started working with Norwegian electronica producer Joachim Dyrdahl (AKA Diskjokke) who not only made the score, but also the Minus Marius track for the final party scene. I then had the idea to (mainly) build the rest of the soundtrack around other members of the Norwegian electronica scene, including Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas and Olefonken. The latter is also present in the dinner scenes. And then finally I came up with the idea of giving Marius a nemesis; to have Marius envy the massive success of Todd Terje. I made a call to Terje which went something like this:
“Hey! I’m making a film where a character takes the piss out of you. We’ve also squeezed the last drop of blood from our budget. Any chance I can have “Snooze 4 Love” for free?”
He just laughed and replied: “Sure!”
It made us think of some of Kristoffer Borgli’s movies — with whom I know you’re friends with. How come you share the same cinematic universe?
We used to share a flat some years back that also doubled as an office, so that probably led to some creative cross-pollination. You can actually see him make a toast in the party scene towards the end of the film.
In Nothing Ever Really Ends, you portray a relationship but, most importantly, we think memory plays a huge role. What inspired you to use those as subjects for a movie?
Well, at the centre of most relationships I think you have a story — a constantly refined retelling of shared, curated memories. It’s a story that celebrates and idealizes the good times and includes lessons learned from the bad times. And if you hit a rough patch, that story becomes really important for the possible survival of the relationship. With this in mind, the iPhone sequence of their holiday became very important for the narrative. I also think the story of a relationship serves another, perhaps deeper function. That it helps create a sense of will, of cause and effect. We like to think we have truly chosen each other in a relationship, and sometimes we have and we manage to keep on doing that, but a lot of the time we just hang in there. Chance and circumstance plays a huge role, yet we keep telling ourselves that we are in control.
Last but not least, could you recommend something to read, to listen, and to watch that you’ve been currently binging on?
👓 I’m currently reading “The Hatred of Poetry” by Ben Lerner as well as re-reading his novel “10:04”. Brilliant stuff.
👂 I think my most listened to album of the last half year is “Flower Boy” by Tyler, the Creator. It just gets me started in the morning.
👂 I also love the podcast “Very Bad Wizards” where a philosopher and psychologist go head to head on lofty subjects such as ethics and cognitive science, then sprinkle that with references to popular culture and whatever else rears its head in the zeitgeist.
👀 A little while ago I was at Copenhagen Pix and saw “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Vinterbrødre”/”Winter Brothers”, both of which I admire for creating such specific and peculiar cinematic worlds. I’m also watching the latest season of “Transparent” which is one of the very best drama series out there.