FOLLOWING his family’s move from Copenhagen to the small town of Vesterby, teenager Simon (Jonas Bjerril) goes from outsider to local troublemaker when he forms a friendship with charismatic alpha Bjarke (Vilmer Trier Brøgger). With surprising turns along the way, Sticks And Stones follows the two youngsters as their actions grow all the more self-destructive.
Director Martin Skovbjerg joins us on Close-up Culture for a quick chat to learn more about the film ahead of its screening at the BFI London Film Festival (13 & 14 October).
Q: ‘Sticks and Stones’ explores themes of masculinity, violence, sexuality and economic unease. What attracted you to Christian Gamst Miller-Harris’ script?
A: I thought it was amazing how I could see my younger self in the world he describes. I really miss movies that portray that state of mind and capture how it feels to be a young person stuck in your parents’ life.
Q: Can you tell us about the characters of Bjarke and Simon? Did you relate to them in any way?
A: I relate to them both, they are definitely a visualisation of my adolescence. I miss the strange universe that you live in at that age. A time where the world you live in is actually just like a classroom at school.
Q: What can you tell us about the female characters in ‘Sticks and Stones’ and how they function within this story?
A: SIMON’S mother is the main female character of the movie. We are on a rollercoster ride with her through the entire film, shown through her son’s eyes. She is a beautiful character trapped in the wrong life and she is desperately trying to grab onto the love she is losing.
Q: Can you talk about casting? What were you looking for in the characters of Bjarke and Simon?
A: WE auditioned a lot of people for the roles of Simon and Bjarke, trying to find two individuals with the confidence and strength to manage the task of playing these characters. The beautiful thing about the two boys we found was that they were already friends in real life – that was a huge help for the movie.
Q: What was the shoot like and your experience working with young actors like Vilmer Trier Brøgger and Jonas Bjerril?
A: THEY were extremely professional, much more than I ever expected. Vilmer and Jonas had never made a movie before, but you couldn’t feel that at any time. It was an amazing experience watching the more experienced actors feed off the energy that these two boys came with. I think they lifted everybody’s performances.
Q: I’ve heard the film has an interesting approach to camerawork and sound design. What atmosphere did you want to create in ‘Sticks and Stones’?
A: THE DOP David Gallego (Embrace The Serpent & I Am Not A Witch) and I wanted to show how life is as a teenager, and what you actually see – we knew that was the key to telling this story. We tried to create the feeling of being inside a bubble where you only see the things that actually interest the lead characters.
We also wanted the visuals to capture the characters like animals and not human beings.
Q: ‘Stick and Stones’ has been called an ‘ambitious debut’ from you. Do you like pushing yourself to the limits as a creative person?
A: YES, always. I love not being totally sure what I am doing, but trusting my instincts. That is when I feel alive.
Q: ‘Stick and Stones’ will screen at the BFI London Film Festival. What are you thoughts?
A: I am extremely proud. I hope the film shows audiences a new way of understanding us (human beings) as the animals we really are because too often we forget that.