Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
Knútur Haukstein Ólafsson: Originally, this was supposed to be a so called “Presentation Film”, a project we had to finish on our 2nd semester in the Icelandic Film School to represent our own unique style as filmmakers, and Initially, what motivated me to make this film was the song “Hope” by the Icelandic music band “Major Pink”. Their song inspired me a lot. Also, for some strange reason, I was feeling quite feminine at this point in my life so I wanted to make a personal story about a lonely and bitter female character who manages to free herself from that self-made situation.
From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
I don’t remember exactly how much time it took to make the film, from the idea to the finished product, but I remember that we started with the ideas on Fall Semester three years ago, back in 2014, and a shorter version of the film called “Miss Pink” was premiered in December. The music video wasn’t fully realized until later in 2015.
How would you describe your short film in two words!?
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
My biggest obstacle was planning the whole damn thing. I was studying to become an actor in the Icelandic Film School, and at the time, everyone was expecting me to play the leading role but I wanted to tell a story about this female character and I felt a strong need to direct my own vision so my biggest obstacle was planning the schedule in a way that all the actors could make it. It took a lot of time and effort but somehow I managed to finish all the production, scheduling and rehearsing in time.
What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
They were very positive. I loved the fact that they “got it” so to speak. The film is about getting over someone and moving on. Freeing oneself from a self-made prison of loneliness and resentment and I also loved how the audience interpreted the film in their own way. I love the fact that the audience members still looked like they didn’t completely know what to make of the film. The look on their faces was somewhat like “What the hell did I just watch?” and that’s also pretty entertaining to me. Their reaction seemed genuine and interesting. It’s always strange to see people react to your own films, especially if they are very personal like this one, but it’s nonetheless very healthy for the filmmaker and important. I’m always very thankful for constructive criticism and this is no exception.
How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
First and foremost, the song inspired me, and then I saw nothing but pink. Then I saw some type of a girl that was a lonely outcast, a female mirror image of myself. And I dug more into the 1st person psychology perspective of it and since I was dealing with lots of depression and loneliness at the time, an image of a nun started to appear before me and I started to care a lot for her and before I knew it, a whole film was constantly playing in my head that I had to get out. I think this whole creative process was about me developing psychologically and my wish was to experience freedom from suffering, and since I didn’t know how to do it at the time, I chose the next best option: creating a character that I cared for and let her be free instead.
As an actor, I was constantly struggling to get out of my head (excessive thoughts etc.) so I think, subconsciously, I was trying to get rid of my head by having a character eat one. I believe the ego (the illusion of the self) creates thoughts that are usually the roots of all our problems and I think I wanted to get rid of my own suffering by cutting someone’s head off. Or maybe I’m just a typical horror fan who likes this sort of stuff, I don’t know.
What film have you seen the most in your life?
I’m so bad at keeping count but I know a couple of films that I have definitely seen over 15 times like The Godfather (1972), Taxi Driver (1976), The Dark Knight (2008), The Descendants (2011) and A Fistful of Dollars (1964).
You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
Personally, as a filmmaker, I think FilmFreeway is a great platform to submit your films. It’s simple, effective and most important, it’s easy to use and understand. I’m very thankful for it. People are usually very busy from day to day and the last thing they need is a complicated process when they are submitting their films. Thankfully, FilmFreeway is very user friendly and easy to understand.
What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
This is a very hard question. I listen to a lot of different music at a lot of different times, depending on my mood. It’s probably a tier between ATLiens by OutKast, Don’t Forget Me by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Good (Start the Dance) by The Prodigy.
What is next for you? A new film?
I just recently finished shootings on an indie movie called “Spell” (2018) where I play a supporting role as a Museum Tour Guide. It’s my first acting gig in a full length feature film and I’m excited to see how it turns out. Then I’m planning on making a new music video for the band Major Pink that would be our third collaboration, and finally, my plan is to just keep on trying for auditions and direct and make my own films.
HOPE, 4min, Iceland, Experimental
Directed by Knutur Haukstein Olafsson
The apocalypse is coming. A lonely and bitter nun seeks for help to let go of her past and finally be free. The lights go out. The lights are turned on. And suddenly there is a change.
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