Interview with Filmmaker Erika O’Neill (A PART)

A PART was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the May 2021 DANCE Film Festival .

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When the corona virus had its first break out, society went crazy. People started to fight over toilet paper and canned foods in grocery stores like it was the end of the world. We got overflowed with scary news every day and instead of trying to make the best of the situation we started to prepare for the apocalypse. In this pandemic-hysteria we forgot about our children’s feelings and thoughts. How did they react to all the horrible news and everything that was drastically take away from them? According to the Swedish organisation BRIS (translated ‘Children’s rights in society’) mentall illness had increased with 60% among children and teenagers in Sweden since the pandemic broke out. As a mother, dance teacher and a choreographer I felt the urge to take action and make a piece about this. Since we didn’t have any arena to preform in I choosed to make a dancefilm with four young dancers (age 14-18) telling their story throughout the art of dance and cinematography.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It was a fast process. The idea came to me in July and we filmed it in September. We had a 3 rehearsal days and one day of filming. The film premiered on the 18th of October.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Fever Dream

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The pandemic it self was a big obstacles, what if anyone got sick during the process or the filming?
Fortunately no-one got sick and we were really careful during the whole process of making the film. Everyone was corona-tested before the shooting of the film. We rehersed a lot of the choreography over zoom.

Other than that we had one even greater obstacle than the pandemic and that was to attach the plastic to the boxes without going insane. We pre-builded the construction for the boxes at home so we could easily transport them to the set location. It was a pretty windy day and our stapler didn’t work!

So my husband, who created the boxes, did a marvellous job to get the plastic to stick to the boxes!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I cried tears of happiness! I had to pause the video to go outside and breath in the moonlight for a bit before I could watch the rest of the feedback video. I have a hard time coping with positive feedback I guess.. (dancer problems). It was lovely and it means a lot to me as a “rookie” in this industry.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I have been hired as a choreographer and a dancer for many music videos and commercial films. I have always had a facination for film making and storytelling.

I’m related to one of Sweden’s first big screen and script writers, Henning Olsen, who created films in the early 1930. He created films with the biggest Swedish actresses at that time. He was supposed to create a film with Ingrid Bergman but according to some sources the film team just partied during the shooting of the film never so the film never got released! Hahah!

So filmmaking runs in the family!

I’m also a good friend with Waldemar BergendaI who has produced almost all of the Astrid Lindgren movies (Pippi Longstocking, Ronja, Emil in Lönneberga to name a few) he lives in my village and before the pandemic I regularly used to visit him for a ‘Fika’ to talk about films and filmmaking. He is a big inspiration for me with almost 70 years in the film industry. I guess I started to realise that I wanted to create films because of him.

7. Do you have a favorite dancer?

I have 4, Linn, Hilda, Elin and Kajsa!

My DXE Dance Orchestra-dancers!

They are my absolute favourite dancers! They started out as my students a couple of years ago and now they have grown in to brilliant talent your dancers! They inspire me so much and I love how they move, both individually but also as a group.

8. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Ronja Rövardotter or Singing in the Rain. My absolute favourites!

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

As a total rookie for this platform and this industry I would love to have some more guidance on how to present your film and what is expected from me as a filmmaker. I’m totally new to this and this culture! I would love to get some help and instructions on how to promote and ‘sell’ my films. Now I just learn as I go and hope for the best. But it’s also a perfect way for me to present my film and its a great platform to apply for festivals! I really like it and think it’s a perfect way to get in touch with festivals and get to know more about filmfestivals around the globe!

10. What is your favorite meal?

It would be my mother’s food! I love her cooking! Specially traditional Husmanskost. Im also a big fan of Mediterranean food!

11. Next for you? A new film?

I have already created a new film that premiered on the 15th of April.

A bigger film project called ‘Brita- The Wrestler.

A dancefilm about a historical woman called Dal-Brita who lived 150 yeas ago in my hometown Sandviken. She was one of the first female workers at the world renowned steel industry ‘Sandvik AB’.
According to her legend she was the only female among 300 men to dig the foundation for the steel factury. She was extremely strong and worked harder than most of her male coworkers. If anyone tried to mock her for being a female she would lift them over her head and slam them in to ground and she was known to be great at wrestling.
She was also the first midwife in my hometown and kept a small restaurant. A very creative and strong woman who was ahead of her time. A female who didn’t hesitate to make her voice heard in a world where she didn’t even had the right to vote.
I have always been fascinated by the stories about Dal Brita and on her 200 birthday I really wanted to make something special so I decided to create another dancefilm with 9 dancers from the age of 14 -70. My dancers from DXE Dance Orchestra are dancing in this film together with some of Swedens most renowned dancers. ‘BRITA- the wrestler’ premiered on her 200 birthday (15/4) and we received brilliant feedback and a lot of love for this film. Now I’m working on promoting this film and finding a way of making a live production for 2022.

The choreography is based on Swedish folk dance, contemporary dance an wrestling.
A film about female strength, choreographed upon the sentens “we wrestle because we want to not because we have to”


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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