Movie: ODJURET “THE BEAST”
Director: Johan Henrik Markus Andrén
Hello Johan, welcome to the SIFF!
1.So tell us how your journey began in the films?
My love for films goes all the way back to when I was a kid. Back then my favorite film was and still is Jurassic Park. I was captivated by the wonders, the thrills, the scares. And that love for that film made me want to learn more about films.I knew from an early age that I wanted to become a filmmaker. Mainly in the directing and screenwriting department. I even made my first script when I was 10 years old but as you can Imagine, it wasn’t very good. In fact, it was horrible. But it was a first step. It wasn’t until 2019 that I decided to pursue that passion and learn more. So this is where I am now where I take my first steps into the film industry for real.
2.How would you describe your journey so far?
I can happily say that I have had a surprisingly positive reception. I couldn’t be happier with how my films have been received so far. It truly gives me motivation to continue to make films.
3.How did you come up with ODJURET “THE BEAST” ?
ODJURET “THE BEAST” is a passion project that I have worked on since 2012. How the idea came to me is actually kind of funny and I still remember it to this day. I was in my hometown for an event and a friend of mine needed to get some fabric from a store and she asked me if I wanted to join her and I did. So anyway. As we drove down to this fabric store which is next to the lake “Vättern” there was this statue of a lake monster. It still stands next to the highway to this day. I remember as we drove past it, I looked at it and I just thought to myself “What if I made a film about a lake monster in Vättern” and just from that little thought a whole story grew that I just could not let go of and kept developing throughout the years.
4.You have mentioned that it took you about 10 years to develop the film. What part of the development did you enjoy the most?
That’s a tough one. I would say that writing the screenplay was the most fun. But on the other hand, when I finally came around to directing this film, I must say that was the best part by a longshot because when you finally see how something you have worked on for so long finally is happening before your eyes. It’s like magic. The ultimate dream that isn’t a dream but reality.
5.Johan, as a storyteller, what is your idea of a near perfect story?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect story. Every story has its flaws no matter how good they are. However with that said, I will say that if a film can be enjoyed and can capture the imagination for its audience. Then I’ll say that you made an excellent story.
6.Story Writing and directing are two different things. Which one do you enjoy the most? Why?
Both are just as fun in different ways. When you write the story, it really is the imagination that takes over and you can get so engulfed in the story you’re making that you can sometimes forget about the time and that’s just great! But I think I am a sucker for directing if you pardon my language. The director is the visionary of the story. The conductor who is orchestrating the whole production. Sure. It can be quite tiresome and exhausting but if you believe that the story you’re trying to tell is worth telling, then it’s really worth the exhaustion. It usually pays off. Besides, You get as excited as a little kid when you see it all come together.
7.ODJURET “THE BEAST” talks about the fear of the unknown and untamed. A thought that has been prevalent throughout history. How difficult was it to mould that thought into a 15 minute film?
It was very difficult! When I first started on developing the project back in 2021, I wanted to add so many more layers and storylines from my original story that would have further explored the theme but with the limited time and budget, a lot had to be strained or cut out entirely but I managed to keep the main theme intact and honestly, I think it worked in the films favor.
8.Among all the characters we meet in the film, who is your most favourite? And Why?
I would say Lisa. Lisa is a character I would describe as the diplomat in the film. She is smart, She can be skeptical but keep an open mind and is not afraid to take charge even if she knows that people may not believe her. She is also given a strong motivation to go after the beast when it gets revealed as she witnessed the beast eat her father so you get why she wants to put together a hunting party by the end of the film as she is out on a sort of revenge.
9.You have gotten a bunch of brilliant actors to work with you in this project. How was the casting procedure?
The casting sure were some of the more troublesome parts of this film. Seeing how this was a project I had worked on so long, I wanted to make sure I got the casting down just right. For example Viktor Huldén and Charlotta Lundberg was originally going to play as two detectives from an earlier draft who would investigate these unexplained deaths and would eventually meet the main characters but as the story changed and with the tight schedule, I couldn’t fit the characters into the story for this short film, but because they played their parts so well, I gave them the roles of Sebastian and Lisa. As for the casting for Gunnar, I had many ideas in mind for who could play the part but I was unable to get in touch with any of them. One of them was the actor Anders Linder. But then I was suggested to contact Lennart Svensson and he was so good to work with. He was instantly curious and enthusiastic to play the part.
10.As a director and storyteller, what kind of movies do you want to make?
I want to make films that are both thrilling but also fun. Adventure films and such. Something that can capture the imagination. That’s not saying that I won’t be down to earth. I want to do a mix of everything, really. But adventure, thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy is certainly my first choice.
11.Have you planned your next film yet? What is it about?
I have. I am going to make a new film this summer called “The Discarded Ones” but before that, I will release a film that I made in the late summer of 2021 called “The Queen Of Hearts”. Both of these films will be western short set in the civil war and they are connected to each other so stay tuned for those!
12.Films have been a source of inspiration for you, it is pretty clear from our conversations so far! Would you like to share which films made you love filmmaking even more?
My biggest film inspiration is as I mentioned Jurassic Park but also its sequel The Lost World. I also have been greatly inspired by the original King Kong, the original Planet of the apes, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Django Unchained and Indiana Jones and the last crusade. There are more but these are my absolute favorites and main inspiration for any film.
13.Johan, is there a dream project for you? What is it?
Actually yes. And no. It’s not the feature length version of ODJURET. Before that, I will do something else. A fun actionpacked apocalyptic film set in sweden. I have already started to ball a few ideas around and got a base set on it but I want to give it a few years to work on it before I decide to make it into a feature. My first feature length film. Until then, I will make a few shorts. Some are connected to each other, some are their own thing.
14.Thank you for the chat Johan! Lastly, I’d love to know how your experience of working with SIFF has been?
Thank you for the interview! It was fun. It even brought back a few good memories. I sure did! I think the communication has been great. It has just felt really professional in general and I really can’t wait to show my next project at your festival!