Interview #31: David Färdmar

Based in Sweden, David Färdmar is a film director, screenwriter, producer and casting director. His directorial debut ‘Are we lost forever?’ is a tale of a relationship break-up and is released on Monday 18th January. We spoke to David about the film…

How did the film come about?

Many years ago I wrote on a post-it-note: ”First scene: Early morning in bed. A guy tells his fiancé that he wants to break up from their relationship. What happens next?” Then a couple of years later, after two own breakups, I found this post-it-note in my drawer when I was cleaning out my office to move to another, and I thought: That’s a great question to answer for my first feature film, then I started to write the script the day after. I wrote down all the different break-up-phases, and situations I could think of, sad but also awkward and kind of funny that I had been going through in my own life. I also started to talk about breakups with my friends and what they had been going through. My writing inspiration was flowing. In a couple of months I had a first version of the script for the film. That one was quite different from how it all turned out, but that’s how it all started back in 2015.

Was it easy to secure funding for the project?

No, not really. Early on we got minor funding for script development from the Swedish Film Institute, and some more for the first phase of the pre-production, but that was all. So we turned it into a total independent film funded by my own production company, Färdmars Film, and we managed to shoot the whole film thanks to blood, sweat and a lot of love from the amazing cast & crew. For the post production we thankfully secured funding from Gothenburg City, our executive producers from the USA, and thanks to our co-producers at Embrem Entertainment and Shoot & Post.

What was the journey like from page to screen? Did the film change in any way during filming and editing?

A LONG journey 🙂 I worked on many different versions of the script during the beginning of 2015 till we started to shoot the first ‘act’ of the script in the summer of 2016. We filmed the first 12-14 pages of the script, the first week of Adrian and Hampus’s separation. We were supposed to continue to shoot in the autumn, but events in life came in between and we lost a little of our energy.

The material we filmed those three very hot summer days in an apartment in 2016 eventually turned into the short film ‘No More We’, which premiered at the Göteborg Film Festival 2018, and after that got a nice journey in the film festival circuit and screened at 50 film festivals. After almost every Q&A I attended in different countries, the audience kept asking: “They don’t seem to be over each other, so what happens after this with Adrian & Hampus?”

ARE WE LOST FOREVER – Official Trailer (feature film by David Färdmar)

During 2018 I re-wrote the script a little more, completed the full cast and then we gathered our amazing crew again, and on September 1st 2018 we started to shoot the rest of the script. Since we needed all of our four seasons here in Sweden, we filmed the script chronologically, and divided the shooting schedule into segments of between 2-4 days each time. On July 20, 2019, we finally could shout out “It’s a wrap!”

Some of the re-writes of the script happened due to different circumstances, both what had happened in my own life over that period of time, and also due to ‘art-by-accident’ like when I finally found the perfect actor to play Rasmus (Micki Stoltt). He’s an actor from Denmark, so I wrote that into his character which actually was more fun and gave more meaning to that character. Also the fact that the actor who plays Hampus (Jonathan Andersson) cut his long hair between the scenes we filmed in 2016 to when we started again in 2018. Which also turned out
to be a really good thing, both for the story and his character, so I added that to the script. While editing, the main story didn’t really change that much from the script, we used around 90 % of the footage from the short film, and re-shot some minor scenes. The delicate thing in the editing room with my great editor, Christoffer Sevholt, was mainly to set the pace in the film, and early on we decided that we didn’t want to rush the scenes or stress the feelings and turning points for the characters, so we worked a lot with that. And stuck to that, even though I know some people may think it’s a bit slow at some points. But that’s how we wanted to tell this certain story.

What challenges did filming present you with?

I would say that the actual filming days were the smoothest part of this project. We had a lot of fun and with a small but very dedicated cast and crew, we just enjoyed all the times we got together to film, and took our time with each scene. And had a lot of time for rehearsals and to go over the scenes over a long period of time during the breaks. The most challenging was mostly not to give up and lose faith in the project during all those pauses in the shooting schedule. To keep the ‘momentum’, but over a long period of time. I would never been able to finish this project without the support of the cast, crew and my two producers Lis Svensson Brandberg and Casper Andreas.

The performances are pivotal to the film working. How did you go about casting all the roles, but in particular the two leads?

I’ve worked as a casting director here in Sweden for many years, so I discovered both Björn Elgerd (Adrian) and Jonathan Andersson (Hampus) 8 years ago for a casting project I worked with, and from that moment on I dreamed about working with them in my own project as a director. When I came up with this story about this couple, I made it pretty easy for myself, and actually wrote the characters directly with them in mind. The rest of the cast I ‘cherry-picked’ with some of my favourite actors I knew from before and always wanted to work with.
I think it was Mr. Hitchcock who said, ‘90% of great directing is great casting’ .

Although the film centres on a homosexual couple, their sexuality is not particularly central to the themes of the narrative of love and loss. Was it important to keep those themes universal?

Yes, the theme of a breakup and love is very universal I think, and I never wanted to make any of the characters sexuality an issue. I just wanted to write a story about a breakup, and since I’m gay myself, I mostly want to tell stories about characters who are homo-gay-bi-sexual, cause that’s my norm. And I took this opportunity to make a norm-creative film for the new 20’s, where a character’s sexuality isn’t an ‘issue’, a ‘problem’ or the main focus in the story.

What has the reaction been towards the film? I see that it has been nominated for awards at a few festivals.

It’s been overwhelming. A lot of love, and also interesting conversations about the theme and characters. Many can relate to the story and want to share their personal break-up stories with me! The most common reaction I’ve got is ‘This is about my separation’. I’ve heard that regardless from gay or straight, young or old, and from all
over the world. I thought I made a very personal story, but over this year since the world premiere at the Göteborg Film Festival in January, I’ve learned that, well I guess I’m not so unique as I first thought 🙂

We’ve also got a lot of praise about the ‘sexual-story’ in those scenes, how it really gave depth to the characters and the story. And my actors have received a lot of praise for their performances as well, which makes me extra proud. The film has been nominated for a couple of awards, and also my actors, but we’ve still not won any awards, yet…

What sort of distribution does the film have?

The film got picked up by the sales company FILMS Boutique in Germany/France just before our World Premiere in early 2020, and they’ve done a great job. So far we have distribution in: Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, USA, Canada. Peccadillo Pictures had already secured the distribution rights for the UK and Ireland beforehand from me, since they’ve kind of been waiting for my feature film debut since we first met at the Iris Prize Festival in Cardiff back in 2010, where my short film debut ‘My name is Love’ was in competition there. My company Färdmars Film owns the Swedish rights.

In what ways has it been affected, positively or negatively, by the global pandemic?

Negatively: for me as a filmmaker, who mainly makes films so I can travel around the world to film festivals, meeting my audience to discuss the film and also meet fellow filmmakers. The pandemic has been devastating of course. Many film festivals have been cancelled and I’ve only had the opportunity to attend one film festival outside Sweden, Film Fest Gent in Belgium, in the middle of October. When we eventually had our theatrical release here in Sweden, we had restrictions of a maximum of 50 people in the audience so not that many got to experience it on the Big Silver Screen, where it looks the best.

Positively: It’s kind of hard to come to think about anything really…maybe that I’ve actually been able to have longer and deeper Q&A sessions with film festivals via Zoom, which also reached a broader audience. More people have been able to screen the film since most of the film festivals our film got selected to play at eventually turned into a digital version. Now when the film is released on DVD and Digital it may also reach a bigger audience since people still spend a lot of time at home, craving for new content all the time. Also, this period of time really made me come to terms with WHY I make films, to share and experience stories with other people all over the world, but for me, that only happens when I actually get to meet my audience. That refuels my energy to keep on going.

What are you working on next?

I’m trying to totally focus on my writing, so right now I’m working on a script for a TV-series as well as a new feature film.

ARE WE LOST FOREVER is released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Platforms on 18th January.

Our thanks to Lizzie and Sue at Porterfrith for arranging the interview and to David for his time.

You can learn more about David via his website

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