Interview With Joachim Hedén, The Director Of Breaking Surface
Joachim Hedén | Courtesy of Mackans Film
Here’s the interview with Joachim Hedén, the director of Breaking Surface. A Swedish thriller that premiered in February 2020. The interview were done February 10th, 2020.
This is the first underwater film in Sweden, what made you direct and write the film?
J: From the beginning, I actually had an idea for two mountain ridges, which were halfway up mountains, who lost the equipment but I could never really find a clock that ticked in that situation but I could never really find a clock that ticked in that situation. If it would happen maybe you would sit still and eat snow for 3 weeks and that is not so exciting. But then one day without her knowing that I had this idea about the mountaineers, so came Reggi Bauer, the producer into the office and just exclaimed out of the blue.
“I wished someone could come up with an exciting movie, underwater. With divers.” And then I realized that if I take those two mountaineers and make them divers instead, all of a sudden there was that nerve. There was time pressure. And everything just fell into place and it was kind of the start of the whole project really.
A large part of the film takes place underwater in Norway. How did it plan with those scenes that are underwater?
J: It was of course damn complex to film underwater, but I wouldn’t say that it was difficult. It was complicated, it was complex. It was challenging. But we had been preparing the underwater shooting for about 1-1.5 years before we actually stood there in Belgium and would start filming underwater. So I, together with underwater photographer Erik Börjesson, had almost every day for 1.5 years talked, planned and it was not just about the photographic expression, about image selection or camera lenses here or there, but the whole logistical apparatus around it all. Because there aren’t that many movies… We talked before about this being Sweden’s first dive film on this scale. It may not be the world’s first dive film on this scale but it is one of quite a few dive films in the world on this scale, so there is not much experience. Not many people have made this type of film on this scale with this amount of underwater photography. So we had to invent the way we do a little bit, too. It’s not just about choosing good images, but also finding, inventing, and creating as well as the entire production apparatus around it. Then Erik is one of Sweden’s experienced but also at the world level. One of those more experienced underwater photographers that we have. We also had a man named Ian Creed, who worked as a dive coordinator, who works on big Hollywood movies. And together, I, Erik, and Ian created as well as this infrastructure around the recording, so once we stood there on the first day of filming in Belgium, we knew what to do. Pepper, pepper but everything went more or less according to plan.
What would you say was the hardest and easiest thing about producing this movie?
J: The hard part, was the exterior scenes. Everything that we filmed, we were in Bohuslän in February and we were in Lofoten in February-March. And in those places unlike the water studio in Belgium, we were completely in the hands of nature. There were rain and snowstorm all the time. There was a lack of snow. There was too much snow. It was mud-well and there was ice. That was the toughest thing to perform at the moment of shooting. But also challenging in post-production to bring together continuity. And there have been some complex VFX works that have helped keep these rather varied weather conditions together, so it’s been by far the hardest to handle the exterior scenes.
And the easiest thing, was probably actually what we initially thought was the hardest, and that it was to get Moa and Madeleine to cope with the actual diving. First, to dive as well as they needed but also that they would stay healthy and well and not suffer from ear problems or colds or illness. But it went like a dance. Both that Moa and Madeleine managed to do the diving but also that they stayed healthy. That’s what was kind of the easiest thing to do.
Moa Gammel and Madeleine Martin | Courtesy of Mackans Film
Do you have previous experience of diving?
J: Everyone thinks I’ve dived a lot because I’ve written and directed a movie about diving. But the truth is, no, I haven’t dived much. Although, I’ve been diving. I have a diving certificate. I’ve dived enough to understand the basic stuff and I understand that it can be a bit scary sometimes. But no, I haven’t dived much. I have climbed more than I have dived and is well what you should perhaps take with you a little bit that even if the arena is diving, underwater. So basically, this is not a film about diving, but this is a film about survival in extreme conditions. So that’s why I too was able to take this basic idea of those here two climbers who
got into trouble and translate as well that into the arena of diving.
What is your view of Sweden’s TV and film industry?
J: This film feels a bit special and purely genre-wise so maybe it hasn’t been seen in Swedish film before, so to the extent that this film can help and broaden so to speak, the genre repertoire so it would be great fun.
Cinema film tends to search for publishers, i.e. pre-existing IP or whatever you want to call it. Prequels and sequel. Movies that are based on books or one or the other, this is an original script. This is an original story and I think that’s what cinema should be. You want to go to the movies to get an experience that can come as a surprise a little bit. So that I can also be happy about if this film helps too, as in the Swedish repertoire, hopefully, lift the repertoire number of original stories because that’s what I think it should be at the cinema. Original stories.
What are your tips for emerging filmmakers?
J: Tips to those who come.… No, but the big thing is that you have to be fucking stubborn and even be stubborn even if there will be adversity. So, in general, the best advice is probably. It’s not about using that camera or taking that angle or doing this genre. One of the other, it’s about finding your thing and just being fucking stubborn.
Do you already have the next project in phase?
J: This work on this movie was so incredibly intense. That’s into the tiles. The film was only finished a few weeks ago, so I haven’t had time to think about what happens next. Next week, when all the premieres are finished, I’ll sit and inventory my idealist thatI’m for. And there are quite a few ideas there.