Interview with Filmmaker Antti Suniala (WALLS BENEATH OUR FEET)

WALLS BENEATH OUR FEET, 5min., Finland, Experimental
Directed by Antti Suniala
Circus short film exploring urban life from unexpected angles. Inspired by the Pasila Street Art District in Helsinki. Collaboration between Race Horse Company, music producer RRKK and the Helsinki Urban Art.\

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I think beneath it all the main motivation was the beauty of circus and how circus skills can be used to express something out of the ordinary. I have been inspired by certain theater shows that included circus artists and while they didn’t perform circus in it’s traditional or even contemporary sense, they still had that quality of physicality where you could tell yeah only a circus artist could do this. I guess I wanted to approach that same area and also create something that could fit some of the amazing world of dance films without it being circus artists trying to actually dance. I mainly work in management and non-artistic production for our contemporary circus group Race Horse Company, but this was a production where I was the artistic director and looked for ways to expand our creative force into film, while still remaining true to our common vision.

And what I think we succeeded in was also to hide the technical sides of circus and what actually happens in the film and how that was made possible seems to remain a mystery to many of the viewers. That was one of my goals definitely.

When we started shooting I only had a rough idea of the end result and lot of the magic happened in editing naturally. The acrobatics seen in the film were all improvisation and site specific, rather than something we spent days training for. Lot of my approach came from what kind of emotion do I want to express, which team I want to work with and which locations to use? The Pasila Street Art District was something I had been following closely and the idea to work with composer RRKK was something I had dreamed of for a long time – we go back over 20 years – and I had been thinking of ways to have him compose for circus. All things came together nicely after a lot of coffee, phone calls and writing.

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

We did only a few days of location scouting plus the time it took for permits. Then we shot the film in 3 days and 1 night in September 2022. After that we continued working with composer RRKK (who can be seen in the last shot of the film) and editor Petri Erkkilä. There was a lot of other work and some issues that came in the way of finishing the film faster, but I think it was good to let the process take a while and ideas to marinate. The premiere was in August of 2023 as part of the Helsinki Night of the Arts program at Cirko – Center for New Circus, where the film played in a loop for several hours and audience could enjoy the film as they wanted using headphones for the music.

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

This depends on the day but…. defiance and weightlessness

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

Covid, low budget and some personal issues. Overall everything went smoothly. We’ve had a lot tougher productions for sure.

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

I absolutely loved the audience feedback. It was super interesting to hear different takes on the story and normally I’d get only things like job well done and that was great! So yeah it was definitely very inspiring and helpful to hear the comments and have feedback that went a lot deeper into analyzing the film. Thank you for that!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I’m one of the kids that would take a VHS cam recorded to the woods to shoot “horror films” with friends. So I guess very early on. However my main thing since young adulthood has been touring as a DJ and circus artist and later directing shows. I have been very versatile in creation and of course did all my trick videos and show trailers by myself. But the realization is also very recent since Walls Beneath Our Feet is actually my first film that I would consider a real short film production.

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

Honestly I think it’s probably House of Flying Daggers or Totoro. But I’ll use this opportunity to say that IT WILL BE the Love, Death & Robots Season 3 Episode 9 “Jibaro” because it is the most amazing dancehorror-short film I have ever seen and can’t get enough of it.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I am very new to this and appreciate everything you have done so far. Of course I would love the opportunity to take the film to a live festival one day and connect with people in direct way.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Using FilmFreeway was very easy and I love the exposure for the film we are able to get through the service.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Oh I absolutely love food and opportunities for some finer dining while touring. I worked as a cook for some years as well and have been vegan for 20+ years. Recently I have been exploring the use of Korean fermented chili paste and miso in noodles dishes. But there’s nothing that I miss more than all the durian I had in Singapore, so yeah I’ll say durian is my favorite meal.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I have an idea for a short film that I might start producing next year and look for collaborations. For Race Horse Company we are touring 3-4 shows currently, planning a few new ones and continue developing or own circus arts center in Helsinki. I am also looking forward to taking some time off and taking care of myself.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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