Before the grand premiere of our new slacker sci-fi feature film The Great Glitch / Children of Paradise directed by Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen, we had the pleasure of sitting down for a live Q&A with Langkjær Bojsen and his 3 starring actors, Leonora Saabye (Franka Liv/Esther), Joos Rohrberg Sanden Støvelbæk (Ronja/Rune) and Lukas Gregory (Serb/Søren) after a pre-screening at Copenhagen's Empire Bio theater.
After its official release on September 14th, The Great Glitch / Children of Paradise has already netted a string of glowing 4-, 5-, and 6-star reviews across mainstream Danish media, and is rapidly on its way to becoming a youthfully psychedelic Copenhagen cult classic, so we thought we’d share some of the insights and anecdotes from our chat with Søren Peter, Joos, Lukas and Leonora with you here, about this beautifully nostalgic and unorthodox film, and the equally as unorthodox process that led to its conception.
Oh, and if you haven’t already seen the movie (you really should. Go get tickets here. Do it now.), we should mention that the following Q&A obviously contains references to the film and minor spoilers.
How was the script for this film created? Can you describe the process of how The Great Glitch / Children of Paradise came to exist?
Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen: So, in the Spring of 2021, I had the itch to make a movie, because it had at that point been 3 years since I’d directed anything. But I had no money. And how do you make a movie with no money? Luckily, I was able to secure a grant from the Danish Arts Foundation.
At that point, I’d already met Joos and Lukas, and knew I wanted to make a movie with them, so we met up and discussed how it’d be cool to make a movie together. I said that I didn’t really know what it was about, but that they should just portray some sort of larger-than-life variations of themselves and be prepared to be on camera in their own clothes and let us into their homes, which we use as actual sets in the movie. But in return, I wanted them to be onboard not just as actors, but as co-creators. I didn’t just want to know who they were, but also what kind of movie they dreamed of making. I thought that’d be fun narrative technique. They were down for that, which I was psyched about, so I brought all of the other actors onboard in the same way. I went home and wrote a script in two or three weeks, and we started shooting not long after. And then it was in post-production for about two years after that. All in all, a really atypical process, almost the exact opposite of how you’d “normally” make a movie.
Joos Rohrberg Sanden Støvelbæk: I remember coming home, looking in my closet, and not being that stoked at the thought of having to wear my own clothes in the movie. But I ended up doing it, and it actually turned out all right.
Søren Peter: You’ve also said that there’s a lot of clothes, you feel like you can’t wear anymore, after wearing them in the movie.
Joos: You know, in the movie, I’m actually wearing the same shoes I’m wearing right now.
Lukas Gregory: I still wear a lot of the same clothes.
Joos: We also moved out of that apartment. But that was for other reasons. Not because of bed bugs. Even though that’s actually a real story. Lukas and I lived together and at one point had a bed bug infestation. Which was horrible.
Lukas: Three months in hell. But yeah, that happened. It’s no secret that Joos and I are old friends, and watching this movie on the big screen was actually awesome, because it’s been two years since we shot it. It reminded me a lot of me and Joos’ friendship, which is something I really treasure. We don’t exactly play ourselves, but there are definitely some aspects of who we are in real life that are very recognizable in our characters, which is pretty trippy to watch.
You mentioned this being a relatively low-budget film. What did that mean in practical terms for the production process?
Søren Peter: It meant having a very small crew, and that everyone had multiple roles when we were on set. The actors became production designers, did their own make-up, and so on. I became our location manager. Everyone sort of takes responsibility for the movie, which requires a lot, and is actually insanely hard, even though one of our dogmas for the movie was that it was supposed to be easy and fun to make. So there was a lot of like, “was he wearing that shirt in the last scene?” – “no, but the guy who owns it needed it back,” kind of stuff happening. And that also really creates a strong vibe of togetherness.
Leonora Saabye: It really brought us together. It was a communal project. I was totally untrained as an actor, so it was a magical feeling to get to have this level of ownership over the film.
What was it like as actors – especially for you, Leonora – to have to portray two different characters in the movie?
Leonora: Well, sadly, the Esther-character is based a bit on the real Leonora. I’d rather have more in common with the Franka Liv-character, who is actually based on a young woman Søren Peter knows, who I’ve never met.
So Søren Peter and I met for a cup of coffee here in Nørrebro, and right off the bat it was clear that we were fond of a lot of the same films. We started discussing the Esther-character, and how she liked to party, and then Søren Peter had the crazy idea that my character should be split into two. It was a really cool thing to get to do.
Søren Peter: Leonora is the only one who plays a character that isn’t in some way based on herself. The part was actually originally intended for another untrained actor, who then came to the realization that the job was going to be too much for her, in terms of having to carry the whole film on her back, which was honestly kind of a disaster for me, because this film is built up around these bonds of trust. I actually came very close to pulling the plug on the entire film. It felt like that point in the story where the network disappears on Ronja. Without her, there was no film. I was really afraid of giving Leonora such a big job, but it ended up having a huge impact on the script, quite late in the process. An earlier script does exist, and it’s far less weird.
Joos: It’s been a huge gift to be able to do this movie as my first, because I had a desire to make a movie with intent, and wanted my character to be someone fighting for change, one way or another. So yeah, it was cool that they succeeded in implementing an entirely new political situation in the world. And I hope the movie contributes to that in real life. *Joos raises a clenched fist in solidarity.* The Network!
Lukas: Yeah, Serb has a lot in common with teenage-Lukas, which is a pretty funny thing to watch on the big screen. I mean, he’s a lot like Lukas was from age 15-23. I’ll admit that. Smoking a ton of weed, watching stupid shit on YouTube…I did a lot of that. Another thing which I haven’t yet put into words, but which I actually found really touching to watch, is what Ronja says towards the end about Søren being able to get angry, but never hating anyone. That’s totally true about me. I’ve never hated anyone. And that was pretty wild to me, that SP could write that about me.
Søren Peter: At one point while I was writing the script, I wrote a character analysis for each of you, and felt like they were all just characters I’d completely made up. And then you all just read them as if I’d written them about you. I actually feel like there’s a ton of me in all of the characters. A lot of things are plucked directly from my own youth. It’s funny that you all identified so strongly with your characters.
We’re sitting here in the Empire Bio theater in the heart of Nørrebro. How would you say Copenhagen as a city factors in to the making of this film, and what does Copenhagen mean to you?
Joos: I’m from Copenhagen, and I love this city. And in a lot of ways, this movie is a tribute to Copenhagen. We talked a lot about not making it too much of a Nørrebro-movie, because we’ve also all spent a lot of time in Nørrebro.
Lukas: We failed.
Joos: We’ve also spent time in, like, Østerbro.
Leonora: I moved to France right after we shot the film, and still haven’t come home, and when I watch it now, it makes me want to come back. Just this vibe of Summer in Copenhagen, meeting people, sharing a few beers…
Søren Peter: I mean, I was down to make a Nørrebro-movie. Maybe we misunderstood each other a bit there. But yeah, it again comes back to this theme of how you have to think, if you have very little or no money. We basically used zero artificial lights. It challenges you to explore how you can still make something visually appealing, which also speaks to this vibe of Summer in Copenhagen – which gets a lot easier when Copenhagen is your inner landscape.
What future plans do you have? What’s next for you four?
Søren Peter: I’m currently in the process of writing another exciting fiction feature film project for Nordisk Film, which is also sci-fi, and about artificial intelligence, and which also contains a bit of a love revolution. And hopefully will have a slightly different budget. I’m also working on a documentary about virtual worlds; dreaming, and realistically speculating about what the world could look like.
Lukas: Nothing urgent. The world is wide open for me at the moment.
Joos: Looking forward to the sequel.
Leonora: I just really want to make wine in France.
Do you think today’s young generation has what it takes to “blow up the train,” as Ronja puts it right at the beginning of the film - to take action and enact real change?
Lukas: I actually think every generation does that. Maybe not by making all of Parliament trip balls, but by making life better for themselves and future generations.
Leonora: My mom saw the film, and said it left her with a sad and cold feeling, if that was really how my generation felt. To which I was of course like, “what are you talking about?” I mean, it’s a happy film, and it’s about young people in a technological world, a world which can be confusing and ridden with anxiety, but where you can also meet all kinds of other people and form bonds of love. I think that’s unavoidable for us, as the social mammals we all are.
Søren Peter: I actually wasn’t planning on sitting in on this evening’s screening, but then I got caught up in the moment when everyone started walking in, and all of the sudden I’m in here watching it after all. Which for a long time was quite an uncomfortable experience. But the audience was wonderful, and it’s like watching the film for the first time when you watch it with the audience. It ended up being a really nice experience. I mean, we weren’t really even expecting this film to make it to theaters. In some of the meetings we had with distributers before we teamed up with Reel Pictures, people were looking at me like I was an idiot when I said that the film would have two titles. Co-creating is really what this film is all about, and on that note I’d like to encourage everyone listening to or reading this, anyone watching this film, to contact me, if you have any kind of opinion on the film. It doesn’t have to be to say something nice. You’re also very welcome to say something mean or critical, or share your ideas on fun ways to shoot a film.
Do you plan on making films this way again?
Søren Peter: I really hope to. It’s all about accommodating when you’re creating a film. One of the upsides to this relatively low-budget film, is that it experiments with the creation process. It’s a methodological experiment in film production. I mean, if you’re making a 25 million dollar film, I feel like you have a huge responsibility to make it a film that has an audience, so it’s exciting to ponder how something like this film could be made with a more extensive distribution scheme.
Do you think there is a revolution of love in store for the human race?
Leonora: Not to be corny, but I met all these guys and all of the other good people involved with this production through this project. And if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
Søren Peter: I definitely think a paradigm shift in the way we organize the world is a legitimate possibility. But it’s quite hard to put into words. Which also in a way makes “love revolution” kind of a dumb term. It’s something you have to poke a bit of fun at, before it can be taken seriously. Personally, I actually have rather high hopes.
Joos: Yeah, what he said.
If you haven't already had the pleasure of watching The Great Glitch / Children of Paradise, you can get your tickets here.