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How I Made it: Lamm (2021)

When Linda gets a phone call about her little brother, their relationship is changed forever. What happens when we have to choose between those we love, and what we believe is right?

12.43 | Swedish | Drama | 2021 | Sweden

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, the Indian Film Institute brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Pollyanna Popermajer

What inspired you to venture into short filmmaking? I grew up in a family of cinephiles. Film and art have always been such a huge part of my family's whole identity, and so I've always felt drawn to different types of creative expressions. Cultural and creative activities were a big part of my childhood and for a long time, music was my main interest. As I grew older, I slowly moved more towards the theatre and acting, and eventually I ended up creating films. For most people short films are a way to start out. And the more experienced you get, somehow we've all just kind of agreed in silence that it makes sense to make longer films. Which I guess is natural, since that's what the bigger audience is usually watching.

But I really hope I never leave the short format completely. It's such an intense way of telling stories, and I actually think it's very hard to make short films. We're so used to the longer format, so to narrow it down to just a few minutes is really difficult. It's a great challenge and I wish short films weren't just seen as a kind of stepping stone for getting to do bigger and "better".

What was your background before making this film? Before this film I had only done a few other short films, which had all been school projects with specific guidelines (so to learn different aspects of filmmaking), so this was probably the first one I did where I could do whatever I wanted. And just less than 1,5 years before I had only ever acted in short films. It was my interest in directing for the theatre that led me onto the path of film making.

What was the starting point for you of deciding to make this film?

I asked my friend who's also into film if she had any scripts just lying around that she would feel comfortable with me directing. She sent me a script and I loved it. It was such a great and very efficiently written script, and I saw a lot of potential in it. The complexity of the dilemma in the film, in which a sister is thrown between doing what she believes is the right thing, or to protect her brother - it was just a very uncomfortable and intense situation. I loved it.

Why this subject matter for your film?

The most important thing about telling this story is to shine light on the real predators. And they are the ones we love. They can be your brother, your friend or your colleague. It was a way of discussing sexual assualt without putting any responsibilities with the victim. I think that point of view was relatively new and interesting for me as a director.

Where did you find this story for this film?

My friend had already written this story, but then we've also talked a lot about many heavy subjects, and I feel like this story had the complexity of a lot of the things we've discussed through the years. We always end up talking about morals, ethics, family, obligations, etc. So when she presented the script, we had a talk about it and how we viewed the subject matter, and it felt like we had an understanding of how to approach the story. In the original idea I think there was much more said about what the brother had actually done. And more about the situation was revealed. I chose to go in a more vague direction, where it's really up to the audience to fill in the blank themselves.

And I think that's interesting, because depending on what you've been through, and what your associations are, I think you view the situation as more or less difficult and severe. I like giving away just enough information. I think it also brings up the "heat" a bit, because you have to use your imagination, which a lot of the time is much worse than reality.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

There were far too many challenges in making this film. So unfortunately, when I watch it, I see so many things that could've been better. But with that said I also feel incredibly proud that it's even a finished film. It would have been more likely that I wouldn't have made it at all. So the fact that it's done, and that it's been touring over the world. That I'm actually answering questions for the Indian Film Institute... What's not to be proud about? I had some personal things going on, and on top of that a family member got paralyzed a couple days before we started filming. My family's world was kind of put upside down. And then it was in the middle of Covid. So much chaos just not being really sure if things were going to work out. What if someone got sick? What if we have to cancel? We also weren't sure we even had a functioning car until the same morning that we were going to start shooting. So I had to call my friend, the writer, and just carefully be like... "What if it's not in a car?". But I had the most patient team members. Hopefully I haven't scared them away from working with me again. I promise it won't be as chaotic!

Making short films on a zero or a low budget is a common practice for most short filmmakers around the world. Do you think it affects the quality of production? What would you suggest to first time short filmmakers on a budget to ensure a good enough production quality?

I'd say that most likely, the budget affects the movie. But it doesn't have to. I'm still trying to figure out what the best way to create off of a small budget, or no budget at all, is. I think it depends on the film maker. Either you have to be really planned and make sure you're 100% in control of everything, and that it's just really well planned. Or, you have to be more open minded. Open to change, open to suggestions. Just being more in the moment I guess. I'd also suggest working with people who enjoy what they're doing. People with talent and enthusiasm can create pretty good things with less good equipment. I also have heard that the quality of the sound is pretty crucial in the way we take in a film. That you can get away with pretty bad visuals, but the sound is not as forgiving, And I've heard that from many people, including some festival curators who've said that even the most beautifully filmed story can be sorted out if the sound is off.

Did you face any problems in releasing or distributing the film? Do you think short filmmakers today have a marketplace to showcase and sell their works?

I don't think I really had any problems with distributing the film, but it didn't always end up where I thought or hoped it would. Sometimes I was happily surprised that it was included in festivals I could never have imagined. And some other festivals that I really hoped for, and maybe even were sure of, said no. Since this was the first film I sent to film festivals in this way, I was kind of testing out what worked and what didn't. The positive thing I got from that is the fact that in less than a year It's been at more than 40 festivals. That's pretty good for a debut short film of a non-known film maker. The negative thing is that I've put far too much money into festival distribution. Because I didn't really know how it worked. But now I feel pretty confident, I feel like I have a very stable ground for my new projects. And I think the financial part of it is the most difficult part for short filmmakers today.

I guess it depends on where you're from, but I spent quite a lot of money on getting this film out there, and I have earned no money. Some nice prizes! But no prize money. Which I didn't really expect, but I was hoping for SVT, The Swedish Public Television Company to buy my film, which they didn't want to. I didn't expect them to, because I know that it's super difficult, but it would have been the only way to at least even out the expenses. I think it's very important that we talk about our failures more within arts and the creatives.

How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution?

I'm really trying to figure out this myself. I feel like a big part of being successful in doing this is just standing out and being interesting to people in power, whatever that means. It could differ depending on where you're from, where you're looking for financing, or where you want to work. But one key thing is obviously to not give up. And if you can't finance your projects, make them on a no budget anyways. And if that's impossible, create other things in the meantime. Get out there, learn, create. And personally, I've been working on a new project for some time. I've been declined some bigger financial applications, but instead of giving up or turning somewhere else, I'm trying to change things for the better, compromise with the things I feel comfortable compromising with, and I'm going to apply again. To at least show them that there's willpower and dedication. Even if it gives nothing, that's the image I want to create of myself.

Any other interesting facts about this film that you may like to cover, any experiment you did, or style? An interesting fact about this film is that we had a suggested idea of the cinematography. But as I said in one of the other questions, we had some issues with finding a car, which meant that we couldn't rehearse as we wanted to. Which led to the whole cinematography pretty much changing non stop through the whole film. Which meant that I had to be open, and my DOP had to be creative and open, and she did the best job I think anyone could have done in that situation. And my assistant director had to be super creative with how to go along with the day and find solutions for us time wise. I learned so, so, so much. I'm sure it would have been even better if we would have had the chance to really rehearse and choose every frame carefully, but we went with our gut and I think there are some things you can't plan. That's something valuable I learned from this.

Is this film going to affect the society, and who should watch it?

I sure hope this changes society! I hope people feel really bad watching this, to be honest. I hope it's thought provoking. I don't think everyone will like it, or even think it's that special. But the few who will feel something from this story are hopefully not forgetting it for some time afterwards.

What would you advice filmmakers making a short film for the first time?

Make something you feel passionate about. It could be something in society that you really want to talk about. Some injustice that you feel needs to be brought to the surface. Or it could be a love story that you find remarkable. Or something that's so funny to you that you just can't let it go. I think the key thing is to feel passionate about it. I felt passionate about this story, and so I was able to also edit the film, from cutting it, to color grading, to sound design - without losing my mind. Which was extremely difficult, so I can't imagine how that would have worked with something I didn't see as much potential in. I think it's also good to not have too many expectations. I think it might be a good idea to know what you want to do with the film. Like the general goal. Mine was to get it out at film festivals. But I think it's good to not have too many expectations as to what should happen. Because if it's your first film, that just makes it worth the effort by itself. That's incredible, and you're gonna learn so much just from that experience.

Film Poster - Lamm (2021)

Festivals and Awards

  1. Vivafestivalen - Winner

  2. Frame Film Festival - Winner

  3. Catalyst international film festival - Winner

  4. ARG International Film Festival - Winner

  5. Luleå International Film Festival - Winner

  6. Boden International Film Festival - Winner

  7. Paris International Film Festival - Winner

  8. Kiez Berlin Film Awards - Winner

  9. Stockholm City Film Festival - Winner - Nordic Youth Film Festival NUFF

  10. Novemberfestivalen

  11. Women's Film Festival - Demakijaz

  12. International Film Festival ZOOM - Zblizenia

  13. Women's International Film Festival Nigeria

  14. Euroshorts Young Filmmakers

  15. Positively Different Short Film Festival

  16. Diorama International Film Festival

  17. AmiCorti International Film Festival

  18. Rome Prisma Film Awards

  19. Sweden Film Awards

  20. Prague International Indie Film Festival

  21. Oudeis International Film Festival

  22. Fem Film Festival

  23. London Film & TV Awards

  24. The Continental Film Festival

  25. Paris Film Festival

  26. Älvsbyn Film Festival

  27. Prague International Film Awards

  28. Paradise Film Festival

  29. Femfilm OsloThe North Film Festival

  30. Capri International Film Festival

  31. Feel The Reel International Film Festival

  32. Venezia Shorts Italy

Meet the Director

Pollyanna Popermajer





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