VIFF 2014 BC Spotlight: 5 Questions with Kris Elgstrand

People express frustration in different ways, but for Carol, the main character from director Kris Elgstrand‘s feature film Songs She Wrote About People She Knows, writing brutally honest and threatening songs about people that have wronged her and leaving them on their voicemail is her way of dealing with stress and indignation. Filled with colorful cinematography and a spectacular score, the film is takes an interesting, funny, and offbeat look at self-expression and confronting emotional obstacles. VIFF had the opportunity to ask director Elgstrand some questions about the film, read on to find out what he had to share.
songs she wrote about people she knows still
VIFF: What inspired you to make this film?
Elgstrand: I’ve always been drawn to movies with music in them whether they’re traditional musicals like An American in Paris or Singin’ in the Rain or something like Robert Altman’s Nashville or, say, Godard’s Une Femme est Une Femme. Or even Pierrot le Fou, which is not a musical at all, but has that great song sung by Anna Karina. I love that stuff. I really wanted to make a movie that had some of that kind of spirit.

VIFF: What was the biggest challenge you faced while making the film?
Elgstrand: Like most independent filmmakers, the biggest challenge was money. Money can help solve lots of problems, big and small, on a production. The shoot had a bigger footprint due to shooting on film than I’m used to which was a challenge particularly when we shot in my apartment without permission.

Kris Elgstrand
Director Kris Elgstrand

VIFF: What’s the main message you want people to take away from your film?
Elgstrand: I want them to have a good time. It’s colourful and fun. I’d be happy if someone wanted to take something deeper away from it. There’s some stuff in there, for sure. It’s a comedy about self-expression so if it happens to inspire someone to make something or write a song about something meaningful to them that would be great. Plus, it would be nice if someone would watch the movie and give everyone who worked on it a really great paying gig! The crew and actors deserve it, they worked so hard!

VIFF: Who is the filmmaker that inspires you the most?
Elgstrand: I have to give you a bit of a list: Paul Thomas Anderson, Miranda July, Powell & Pressburger, Woody Allen, Preston Sturges, Jean-Luc Godard, Wes Anderson and… that’s probably a big enough list for today.

VIFF: What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers in BC?
Elgstrand: I feel like most independent filmmakers in BC are pretty much in the same boat whether they’ve made three or more movies or are just planning their first one so I don’t feel I know much more than anyone else. The one thing that has always worked for me is to find a way to just do it. Work with the resources you have and make something. Find a team and do it. That’s what’s necessary in BC or anywhere you want to make a movie. From Larry Kent to Lynne Stopkewich to Mina Shum to Bruce Sweeney, it’s always been a question of finding a team to work with and making it happen.

Check out the trailer for Songs She Wrote About People She Knew:

VIFF Passes and Ticket Packages are now available online. Full program schedule (including individual ticket sales) are available here.

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