PROTAGONIST IN FOCUS. Tobias Gundorff Boesen: “Ghost” (interview – part 4)

maja@tnf: Why did you choose a young girl as the main protagonist of your film? What was your approach in directing the little actress? Did any funny or difficult situations take place while rehearsing or shooting with her?

Tobias Gundorff Boesen: Somehow I just find that I have a strong, sort of… understanding of how children feel and think. It may sound corny, but I think I’m still very much in touch with my inner child. 🙂 The straightforward, innocent, trusting, open and observant approach with which children view the grown-up world is extremely interesting, as it reveals something to us about how all the world was before we got so used to it and started taking everything for granted. So there’s a loss of innocence there: For most children, there is a clear desire to feel loved and safe, and a belief that the world is a good place with meaning and purpose.

When you get older that gets fucks up. Exempla gratia, grown-ups getting drunk, having a blast… When I’m drunk and partying, things seem totally normal to me, and I’m not even sensing the other people all around me, fighting, partying, drinking and arguing, with their manifold motives, agendas, values and opinions. But nothing could be scarier or feel more unsafe for a six-year-old, than being left alone without parents in the middle of the night, surrounded by drunkards, discovering how grown-ups really are. So seeing ourselves through the eyes of a kid (unaware of being watched) can tell us something about ourselves. Generally, kids are just great protagonists for existential stories: They’re more “tabulæ rasæ”, and somehow more genuine.

Alberthe was really cool to work with. She lives near my parents in Viborg, which was a big advantage, as it saved us a lot of going back and forth. I decided early on to talk to her about character motivation, even though she was very young. Using language she could understand, we talked about how it would feel to wake up without any idea where you were, what was going on, etc. I actually think this was a good decision, and helped her understand what we needed her to express, as opposed to simply instructing her to perform given actions.

However, she sometimes understandably became distracted, as it’s extremely difficult for a 6 year old to stay focused past her bedtime 🙂 I tried to help motivate and encourage her, and it helped a lot that her parents were around and took care of her while preparing scenes. At one point, during the running scene in the birch forest, she totally lost interest in the film and hid under a camping chair, refusing to come out.

A bit of trickery was needed, and I convinced her to come out and play catch instead of shooting the stupid film. So I ended up running through the forest behind Alberthe, or her after me, trying to catch me, with poor D.o.P Andreas five meters behind, trying frantically to keep up with us and film Alberthe, without filming me. At one point, when I’d gotten too exhausted, I used a laser pointer, and convinced Alberthe that we were playing a game in which she was supposed to locate and reach whatever tree I was pointing at. This was damned effective, although it could be mistaken for bad film directing – haha!

Interview in parts

Full interview

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