Ancient Inventions

Andreas Öhman

How did you get into directing?
When I was a kid I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do. I was good at many things but not great at any one thing. But directing was the perfect way for me to express myself and combine the things I was pretty good at like photography, writing, sound design, music, graphics and most of all understanding emotions. Knowing a little bit of everything about the art of filmmaking gives you a lot of strength and confidence to create beautiful things.

What is your most recent project?
My next project is a commercial for ‘GANT by Michael Bastian’. I want to create something different in the world of fashion films, and this project gives me the freedom to explore and challenge myself. I think that’s the way to create something unique and exciting—to trust the vision and let that go all the way.

What is the best part of being a director?
Never getting bored at work and waking up every morning thinking you have the greatest job in the world. There are always new things to discover – one day you’re a pro tennis player, another day a taxi driver or even an old man in ancient China.

What is the worst part of being a director?
Having to choose. I’ve always found it difficult to decide upon “the perfect path” for my directing. I love so many things about it and at the age of 28 have completed three feature films, one animated sitcom and numerous commercials. I believe in the story, but I also believe there are many ways to visualize it. And no matter what style, I always follow my heart as to what I think is the best way for that specific story to be told.

What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
My focus is always storytelling—visual or classic. It’s not about the form, it’s about what fits the story best. Today we can watch brilliant two-minute YouTube films, and they can be hilarious, heartbreaking or even make us change our perspective. I think we live in an exciting time with more and more opportunities to push beyond traditional boundaries. I love that.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?
Throughout my life I’ve always connected to the people I look up to. So basically all my friends are my mentors—some emotionally, some esthetically and some through the art of storytelling. I think part of my development as a director has been my ability to always look up, to look further down the road and to talk to people more educated in life or in the industry than me and learn from them.

Who is your favorite director and why?
Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie Magnolia was the reason why I started making films. I saw it and then immediately watched it again. That made me start wondering if there was any way I could do that—make people laugh, cry, be surprised and intimidated by what they see. PTA has a sensibility and tone that I love. As a director it’s extremely important to believe in your vision and always follow it, and I think that’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned from him.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial?
I love the combination of visual and classic storytelling, using not only actors but graphics or camera work to explain the essence of a story.  My favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because it’s playful in its visuals, rhythm and storytelling. It enlightened my life, and whatever new project I’m on, that’s always my goal.

Tell use about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I was born and raised in the countryside of northern Sweden on the yard of a lumber mill my 70-year-old father still runs today. While my interest in films did not come from my parents, my will and propulsion certainly did. My father has worked hard his entire life and always has a new project in the works, while my mother was a school principal who made sure those projects got finished.

I bought my first video camera when I was 14 and started filming my friends playing computer games as a joke. I learned how to edit and realized what you could do with this amazing format. And from that day on, my life completely changed.