Director Jimmy Olsson joins us to talk about his exploration of a father-daughter relationship in his latest short film, Last Weekend With Jenny And John.
Hi Jimmy, welcome back to Close-Up Culture. I’ve been impressed by the diversity of subjects you tackle in your work. What made you want to explore a father-daughter relationship in Last Weekend with Jenny and John?
Thanks for having me back! As always I read a lot and I listen a lot to different stories and certain things resonate with me and tend to stick in my mind. In this case it was a short reflection from a podcast that made me think of my own situation. It was a story about a father and his daughter. She was singing along to an old song in the car and he was watching her while driving and he thought about her future. What decisions she will have to go through and all the exciting things she is going to experience while growing up.
I have a daughter who is 10 and I felt I wanted to write something about being a parent and what happens to you when your children don’t need you anymore. You could say that I’m preparing mentally for that already.
Can you tell us more about the dynamic between Jenny and John?
In my view Jenny is a normal teenager who has a nice relationship with her father, John. He is a hard working man who is really engaged in her daughter’s interests. Perhaps too engaged. But things happen in a relationship, things change. She is growing up and he is getting older and perhaps feeling unwanted and not needed anymore. Things like that can cause anxiety.
In this film I wanted to highlight how difficult it can be to be a parent and the fact that you cannot always be just. I felt that it can be interesting with a parent who is unfair sometimes because no one is perfect and everyone has their own needs.
The distraction of mobile phones is highlighted in the film. How do you feel they are impacted young people and the ways families interact?
Phones and tablets are a curse and a blessing. It’s a battle you cannot win once it’s introduced, I think. It doesn’t help the interaction in a family. Children today interact with a lot of their friends online and they establish a certain kind of relationship and it creates a gap from the family and their ability to express themselves might be damaged. But then again, children also learn a lot from the screens. But on the whole we tend to talk less with each other.
The film has a subdued colour palette. Can you talk about that and some of the other stylistic choices you made in the film?
When I wrote the film I was very much influenced by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. Actually the whole script sprung out of the painting “View of Delft” and there are a lot of shots in the film that are based out paintings. I knew I wanted to have a slow pace and try to solve the scene with a few shots and focus on the performances with a somewhat voyeuristic perspective. Myself and the cinematographer, Anna Smornonova, talked about colours and we decided to go for the 4:3 aspect ratio and Anna had her ideas of what kind of accent colors she wanted to highlight. I’m very pleased with the look of the film.
The film features When in Rome’s song, The Promise. At what point did you think of including that song?
In the script I had another song in mind at first but then I changed my mind and wanted to have an international song. I wanted a song that the father might have listened to when he was her age. I really like that song. It was actually the Swedish side of Universal who gave me a list of songs that I could afford and when I saw “The Promise” on the list it was a no brainer. The lyrics of the song actually kind of fits the theme in the film.
The short will have it’s US premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February. What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
I’m very excited to have the international premiere at Santa Barbara. It is such a big and prestigious festival. I hope the audience can relate to both characters. To me it’s a warm and loving story and I hope that they can read all of the layers of the story.
What’s next for you?
I’m always writing. Two years ago I made a film called Alive and that was a big success on the festival circuit. Now I’m developing a feature out of that short story and I’m also working on another feature as well. I am a drama guy and I hope that my body of work will be recognised and I hope that this new short will attract some attention on the UK and US market. I really would like to work abroad in the future.
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Jimmy’s IMDb – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4051605/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0