Silent Film

23,5 Hours of Shooting at a Run

An interview with Ove Musting, director of Silent Film

Please tell us something about yourself: When and how did you decide to become a filmmaker?


It started very early. We lived on a farm and my father was an amateur filmmaker, and as he had several cameras at home I had the chance to play with them. I made my first sketches at the age of 15-16, but in those days I really didn’t think about making films. It was just fun, although father has told me not to touch the cameras! So in a way it was illegal. My family had a very big library at home and all those books and pictures had a positive influence I guess. In my youth there was not much to do in the countryside. There was always lots of work on the fields and the farm. Leisure time I spent on reading books and founding a band. After graduating high school I knew that something like directing is what I wanted to study. So in university in 1996 I shot my very first short called SUICIDE. The school gave me a grade “D” or something and said it was a piece of crap. But half a year later at the “Baltic Amateurs Film Fest” I got an award as the best film in the Baltics. So after that I made three more shorts and about ten music videos. I think it is a journey, I don’t have a feature film yet, but it must come some day.


You attended film school when creating this film – was it a student film with special conditions or requirements?


Yes, there were conditions: It should be a story without words and understandable for the viewer. As simple as that.


Your film is surreal, almost dreamlike in its mixture of style and tonalities. Where did the original idea for this short film come from and how has it maybe changed over time?


At the same time I was creating this silent film my friends asked me to make a music video for their band. So that might be the reason why it is so surreal. Their song was about “Lottery” – the main idea was something like ”everything in this life is a lottery”. But as the song is so contemporary, I let myself run free and somehow the idea for the video and the idea for the silent film mixed. For me it was a challenge – how to create a movie without words and how to make a music video storyline without words. Is it possible to mix those two? So I started to create stories about how some men want to get “easy money” and how they finally succeed. The story changed a lot, but it was lots of fun.


How did you achieve the silent film style of the hand-cranked camera, the lighting, the sepia-toned black-and-white, and the editing?


We shot this short on 16mm film. The most important thing was working with the sets – everything was built in our school “studio”, an old basketball hall. I wanted this kind of colors from the beginning, so together with the set designers we toned all rooms from the beginning in brown, light brown and green colours. Camera–style and lightning was preplanned with DoP Ants Martin Vahur.


There are some interesting visual effects, too, in the last scenes. Please tell us how long you shot this film and what happened in post-production.


We started at 7.30 in the one morning and finalized it next morning at 7. So 23,5 hours of shooting at a run. The budget was minimal and we couldn’t shoot more than one day. Luckily all stunts were tough. All fighters and audience were Estonian MMA fighters. The main actors are hip-hop group “A Rühm” members. During the shooting some of our key crew members changed. The DoP's first assistant had a temperature about 39 degrees and had to go to work the next morning on another production. So at 3.45 at night we had to find a new loader/first assistant. One of our friends, who now is a DoP, was at that time an assistant and came to see how we came along. So then he decided to help us.


Please tell us something about the reception of this film, especially on where it has been shown and what reactions it provoked.


As this film was part of our school exercise it was shown only in school and Estonian National television. And of course reactions were different. But mostly it received positive feedback. When the music video finally turned out, it was very successful, we were even nominated at the Estonian Music awards for Best Music Video, but we didn’t win.


What happened to you since this project and what plans do you have for future films?


After that short I made a new short movie last autumn, it called DEAR FRIEND, YOU HAVE MY RESPECT. It is a two-men story about friendship. The story takes place in the countryside in the middle of astonishing swamps and forests, houses with the touch of Nordic architecture and with only vague signs of life. Heart-touching, rough but real. This short won at the PÖFF awards for Best Estonian Short film.  For the future I have plans and hope to direct feature films. But it takes time. On some ideas I have worked over 4-5 years, but usually features take much more time.


More informations about The Tallinn University Baltic Film and Media School (BFM)

Mo, 05.12.2011 0

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