by Catherine Rierson
I met Egil Pedersen on the way to one of the festival’s after-parties. With his hands stuffed in his jacket’s pockets, the scarf tightly wound around his neck, and his overall quiet disposition, I was initially hesitant to approach the seemingly timid director. Nonetheless, in the bright, fluorescent light of the metro, and later in the dim blue-filtered light of the ÉCU after-party, we discussed his personal history with independent filmmaking in particular, and cinema in general. In retrospect I realize that Egil, a 35-year-old Norwegian director and healthcare worker, is the essential portrait of the modern independent filmmaker.
Born in Sirma, a very small village in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county, Egil got to know cinema on his own terms. While there’s a movie theater in Sirma now, there wasn’t one there during his childhood — in fact, he’d only been to the movies five times before he was 16. Nonetheless, Egil became interested in cinema as a young teenager: With his father’s Super8 film camera, he experimented with film by making Lego and clay animations, and he bought his first video camera at about 20 years-old — about the time he made his first short film. In 1998 he attended a folk high school, which helped cultivate his interest in theater and film, and a year later, he began his studies at the Norwegian Film School.
Now based in Jessheim, a small town just outside Oslo, Egil earns a living from his work in the health care industry at two psychiatric institutions and a nursing home for the elderly.
“I don’t use people I work with as a direct inspiration to characters in my films, but I learn a lot about how people can behave and act in many different circumstances in life, which can help avoiding cliches and make characters more interesting and believable,” he said about his work.
By definition independent film lacks the big budgets of large production houses, but Egil has been fortunate enough to benefit from the vast resources Norway offers artists: His latest film, a sci-fi video for the rap duo Chris Baco & T-Tune’s “Busstop”, as well as Rugged Wilderness & Mountain Man No More’s “Dropping Feathers” music video, which was screened this year at ÉCU, both received funding from the state, and, having recently been granted The Sami Parliament Art Scholarship, he’s planning several other projects to work with style and form in music video and short film.
Check out Egil’s work at http://www.egilpedersen.com/.