Exclusive: Filmmakers Behind “The Man Who Would Not Cry” Talks Universal Themes And Satire
The satiric comedy short film The Man Who Wouldn’t Cry based on a short story from 1947 by Stig Dagerman has received a great response. The film stars established actors Sissela Kyle and Christoffer Nordenrot in the leads.
Introduce yourself, who you are and what you work with?
Emil: My name is Emil T. Jonsson and I am the film’s director and producer. Has a background as an actor and theatre educator, but in recent years has worked behind the camera. I am currently developing short films, TV series, feature films, and am a screenwriter at a company that produces educational films.
Björn: My name is Björn Boström, and I have written the script and produced it. I am a trained screenwriter and always have a lot of script projects going on, some that have been produced, others that are still stuck in development hell. Also takes on assignments as a dramaturg and helps other writers to get ahead in their writing.
What made you become a filmmaker?
Emil: Film was a comfort to me as a child. When life was at its toughest, I knew nothing better than to sit in front of a TV with a bag of crisps and a glass of milk; And dream me away. I’ve always thought of myself as a storyteller, whether I worked as an actor in the theatre, created a movie, or daydreamed at a service job. I love the medium of film; the limitations, the possibilities; to create moods, and to take the audience on a journey.
Björn: As soon as I learned to write, I always wrote stories. When I was in high school, I got hooked on play scripts and writing dialogue and later I got more open my eyes to writing for film. I love the visual storytelling and the structure of the screenplay. The driving force behind the storytelling is to express something I’m angry about, if’s a comedy, or portray something that has touched me a lot, if it’s drama.
How did you get the idea for this short film?
Emil: Had just plowed the entire anthology series Black Mirror and was inspired to take this older story set in a square accounting office and move it to a more Silicon Valley-like company. The oppression is more hiding among soft values and pastel colours. The lead role now became an advertising artist, and the idea was born to switch between live-action and animation to fuel the madness and the film’s unique features. By moving the story into some kind of alternative present, we could also take inspiration from things we see around us in society today, such as the rise of mob culture on social media.
Björn: We both read the short story The Man Who Wouldn’t Cry by Stig Dagerman from 1947. I liked its peculiar atmosphere, its message, and the universal theme of the individual’s struggle against groupthink. Had been looking for a story that depicts Kafkaesque oppression and with this story, it was like having found gold or oil.
How has the reception of The Man Who Didn’t Want to Cry Been?
Emil: Early on we thought it was going to be a very broad film, family entertainment, but realized in the process that it was more niche. Subtle absurd satire gets an enormous amount of love when it finds its way. For example, we won Best Nordic Short Film at Västerås Film Festival, attend prestigious festivals such as St. Louis International Film Festival and received excellent reviews such as “best short film I have ever seen”. I have received many who have written and thanked for a nice and unique short film experience that has given them a lot of pleasure. In addition to an important message in today’s time–when the individual’s self-determination is under threat–it has also provided comfort and laughter with its colourful and unique framing. We hope that the future will show it on Swedish Television (SVT) and reach an increasingly large audience.
Björn: I’m also glad the film has been received abroad. From Russia, Greece, the US, Italy, and Norway etc., it has been appreciated, which shows that the theme is universal and urgent globally.
Has the work on the film been affected by the pandemic and, if so, how?
Emil: The film was planned and recorded just before the pandemic. But post-production and animation work were affected. The process dragged on and more needed to be done remotely. Most of all, it has changed the film’s subtext. When we made the film, its content was more aimed at specific virtue signalling that we saw a lot of at the time while now during the pandemic we have completely new issues that people virtue signal with, such as vaccine status and the like.
Björn: That’s what I like about the film’s allegorical presentation of the theme. It becomes like a glass that you can fill with different content. In 5 years, there will be something new virtue signalling that you can fill the glass with.
What do you feel is the advantage/disadvantage of the short format?
Emil: The advantage is that it forces us to think effectively. To be merciless in what we prioritize and not waste the audience’s time. Limitations are often something that helps you, purely creatively. The disadvantage is above that Björn, and I often have ideas that fall between the chairs in format. The novel is a bit of a death sentence when it comes to finding a larger audience. Short film forces us tore-prime the classic three-act model and relies on the ability of modern audiences to fill in a lot themselves.
Björn: Sometimes the downside may be the same as the advantage. We’ve been told about this film as well as our previous film that it was too short, a kind of frustration not to get more. But then at the same time, we have succeeded in engaging effectively in a short time and that kind of iceberg-technology entertainment is a strength.
Do you have any future projects planned after this film?
Emil: And then we have a feature film’s idea based on our first short film The best of Intentions as, among other things, was shown at the Gothenburg Film Festival and at Palm Spring Short Fest to great success. Then, of course, I take on freelance assignments as well, as a editor and 1st AD and create shorter movies on my mobile to keep going.
Björn: Yes, we have a short screenplay seeking funding, a script that takes on the delicate task of creating a romantic story about love fraud, a contradiction we affirm. Then we have a series-idea, Buzz Factory, which further develops the hypocritical pastel heritage we created in this short film.
Do you have any tips for aspiring filmmakers for those who want to enter the industry?
Emil: Build relationships. Stand up for people who, in turn, stand up for others. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment; you can make amazing movies with a mobile camera. Creativity is in limitations. Find people to collaborate with me and keep going all the time. I don’t have any good advice when it comes to becoming an established filmmaker. But nothing can stop you from telling stories. Keep telling me. Keep creating.
Björn: And be brave. Contact reputable people, even if you don’t know them and even if they feel out of your league and introduce yourself in a nice and professional way. And don’t tremble to work with those who are less experienced too if they’re hungry to create and you click. And don’t get discouraged by getting a lot of no’s, carry on as if nothing has happened. 99 doors have been closed and right what it is, the 100th opens.
More about the film:
Link to watch the film for free