Interview with Johanna Nordahl, Indio
“In the end, the film had become more about mental sanity… ”Joanna Nordahl is the master behind the music video for Say Lou Lou’s “Nothing but a Heartbeat”. sc: When and how did your interest in filmmaking take form? jn: I come from the theatre and performing arts world. I basically grew up on stage, always dancing, singing, acting, doing big and small projects with my friends, constantly having way too much to do and too little time, running between different rehearsals. I think that at some point as a teenager I sort of realized that I’d never been very happy with what I was asked to do on stage and I’d rather just make the decisions on my own, obnoxious actress, haha! So then quite quickly I started directing for the stage. I am such a nostalgic person, and the idea of working on a project for a year and that it would then be shown just a couple of times in front of an audience and then perhaps never again… that thought sort of killed me, that the moment would just get lost with time. I realized I wanted to create something that would last forever or have a life of its own. Film seemed like a good route, considering I was already a total movie buff. sc: How long does the creative process take? jn: From idea to finished product? That really depends on the premise of the project. Sometimes, for example when working on a music video I usually have to come up with an idea within a couple of days, deliver a creative treatment and then shoot, edit and deliver in the same month. In cases like that you just have to rely on intuition - there’s no real time for deep analysis or moving back and forth between ideas. But when creating something bigger, like when I directed a documentary series for SVT [Swedish National Television], the creative process just never ended. I’ve been working for almost two years on that project, and I still find questions and new aspects of the concept every time I work on it. It’s super interesting actually. I honestly don’t think I will be able to grasp what we have created even when it’s all done and aired – I think I probably will be able to look at it as “finished” some years from now, when I’ve gotten some real distance to it. sc: Where do you find inspiration? Who are you influenced by? jn: I find loads of inspiration from just listening to music – I’d say that’s my main inspiration. Music is just so above the other art forms. It instantly kickstarts emotions, and that’s super helpful to me and gets me into a good vibe when I’m writing or researching. I try to look for inspiration in different places and worlds depending on what type of project I’m working on. Like, I can get inspired by the fashion scene for one project and by nature documentaries for another. I’m also very influenced by the creators around me. Many of my friends are artists – writers, choreographers, musicians, illustrators, political activists, etc. They are all brilliant and inspire me so much. Most of my work is in some way political, and I feel that the current times of injustice, prejudice and hate spreading in the world are triggering me to keep working. I don’t want to be silent and I feel a need to claim space in the often quite misogynistic and conservative film industry. That’s more important to me now than ever. sc: What has been the most important obstacle in your life, that has made you grow? jn: A couple of years ago too many complex and shitty things happened all at once, and I was damaged from work-
ing too much and being anxious about everything. That eventually led me down a dark spiral of deep depression. I hadn’t experienced that type of out of bodily sadness and long term apathy before, and it scared the shit out of me. Picking myself up from that place by working less, figuring out what I wanted, asking for help, and being super honest and vulnerable to people was a huge thing for me. I am much more humble toward work since then and have developed this incredibly cheesy or very awesome carpe diem-type of attitude toward everything. Going through that process was tough and forcing myself to speak openly about it has definitely made me grow, both as a person and as a director. You have been working with Say Lou Lou, you actually did their latest music video for Nothing but a heartbeat. Tell us about the theme and idea behind the music video. The idea for the video was that, rather than to create a video for the specific song, we wanted to create more of a statement piece or short film based on the title and theme of the new album Lucid Dreaming. The Lous wanted to capture this feeling of how everything within a dream makes perfect sense without contingency or any logical explanation. I really loved that challenge and sought inspiration in films and books about lucid dreaming, while trying to capture a special bond between the sisters. In the end the film had become more about mental sanity and relationships than what I originally planned. Those aspects just developed within the creative process. sc: Who would you like to work with, dead or alive! jn: There are so many! But I guess Björk, Daft Punk, Beyoncé, Hans Zimmer and Frida Kahlo would be a great bunch to spend some serious time with. sc: Tell us about a technique, or just something that you have seen in another film, that you would like to learn how to master or recreate. jn: I have become really nerdy within a particular area of film making but at this point I don’t want to reveal what it is until I actually master it! sc: What do you do when you’re not working? jn: I hang out with my family and friends and spend time in Stockholm. I travel a lot in work, and it’s awesome, but whenever I’m home I just try to chill and hang out with my friends as much as possible. We drink beer and sing horrendous karaoke tunes in dive bars and go to discos most of the time. sc: Best movies ever, shoot! jn: I definitely have a thing for tragedies. I love to cry in the movie theatre. I love super sad stories like Romeo+juliet, Blue Valentine, Melancholia, Dancer in the Dark and Titanic. I guess I like to feel a lot. Recently I’ve been obsessing over Interstellar and Blue is the Warmest Color. sc: What are you doing at the moment? jn: I am finalizing a TV show I directed called One Wish. It’s a documentary about young dancers who meet at this dance school in Malmö and sort of need to figure out who they are and what they want from life. Aside from that I just finished a couple of music videos for fantastic badass rapper, Silvana Imam, with Indio, the production company I work with. In a month I will go to a monastery in Portugal to research a new dance performance/film hybrid show that I am creating with Norwegian choreographer Ludvig Daae. Exciting times for sure!