Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.
This week, the spotlight is on Andrej Landin (BFA/Film Production ’13) who has written and directed the short And a Calm Swept Over.
DODGE: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?
ANDREJ: After I graduated from Chapman in 2013 I moved back to Sweden and began contacting different production companies. At the same time my thesis film Into The Silent Sea was starting to take off and we had just won a BAFTA-LA award and screened at Telluride. I was lucky enough to get an interview and based on the strength of Silent Sea I got a director’s assistant job at a commercial agency; DDB Stockholm. A few months into assisting other directors, I was asked if I wanted to start directing; I did. This was actually a huge break because DDB Stockholm has all these big clients such as Samsung and McDonalds etc. While doing commercials I would be working on the side on different drama projects – writing scripts and trying to find financing. Finally, last summer, I was able to secure financing for another short film.
DODGE: Tell us about your experience writing and directing your most recent project And a Calm Swept Over.
ANDREJ: Last summer I was approached by a Turkish producer who had seen Into The Silent Sea and he invited me over to Istanbul to talk about an omnibus project he was putting together. I went there and had a few meetings. I was intrigued by the idea of the omnibus approach. The basics were that 9 different directors would do 9 different short films based on a theme. I was also given a lot of creative freedom to write my own script and choose both cast and crew. I based my story as a relationship drama that takes place around the world of competitive freediving. I have always been fascinated by this beautiful sport and to be able to make a film around it is really a dream come true. The larger thematics in the film deal with the concept of reconciliation and redemption as this couple struggle to find their way back to each other.
DODGE: You collaborated with Chapman alumni Benjamin Fischinger and Almog Avidan Antonir on the film. While at Dodge, how did you form these relationships? Did you recognize any differences collaborating with your peers post-graduation versus in a film school environment?
ANDREJ: I knew Ben a little bit before Chapman, but basically the three of us got to know each other during our final year (Ben and I transferred in). They’re both great guys and incredibly talented filmmakers so working with them at Chapman was really easy and we had a lot of fun together. We always said that we should find another opportunity to work together again, and with And a Calm Swept Over that opportunity came. I invited them to be a part of it and they happily agreed. That’s really one of the great things about film school – you forge these great collaborative friendships and they last for years afterwards. The collaboration process is actually very similar now compared to when we went to film school. The difference I guess is we’re actually getting paid now.
DODGE: What skills do you believe have been essential to your craft?
ANDREJ: Maybe it’s not so much a skill, but I have always been willing to learn and develop. To me it’s important being open to new things and trying out new stuff. The easiest solution isn’t always the best solution. Also I always put a lot of faith in myself and trust my instincts – it’s the best support you’ll ever have.
DODGE: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?
ANDREJ: The best advice I ever received (and this will probably be a very film-related advice), but to me it was this: If you want to direct, then direct. Stop doing all the side things you are doing and go for what you want. And it’s true, and if I would sum that up into my own advice, I would say: Go for what you want and be willing to put in the work for it. If you really love what you are doing, it won’t feel as work.
Thanks so much for sharing, Andrej!