Interview with Kasper Juhl (Monstrosity, Madness of Many, A God Without a Universe) (en)
Hi Kasper! Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer a few of our questions! After doing a double feature on „A God Without a Universe“ and „Madness of Many“, we were quite impressed, so we’re especially glad that you agreed to the interview.
How would you describe your style of filmmaking?
Uncompromising, transgressive, spiritual and non-judgmental. I am very inspired by a documentary approach to filmmaking and all of my work is about deep, psychological, spiritual questions about our lives. My filmmaking is very interested in people of a different character.
Which are your most admired filmmakers and why?
Werner Herzog, Lars Von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky etc. Filmmakers who make haunting, beautiful and provocative art. Films that make me feel.
You’re part of the metal band Abscission. How big is the impact of the band on your film making and vice versa. And how important is music for your films?
Filmmaking and music have a lot in common. It is all about the timing and phase. I see all of my films in the same way as a music composition. As a big fan of all kinds of music, it is always a huge part of my films – from songs to the ambient. The music and sound in my films are equally important to the visuals, if not more.
My first association with danish cinema is Dogma 95 and their founders LvT and Vinterberg. Especiallly LvT is known for his controversial movies. Do you have a special kind of bonding with these films or with danish cinema?
I am very inspired by this ‘guerrilla’ way of making films, and films like ‘The Celebration’ (Vinterberg, 1998) and ‘The Idiots’ (Trier, 1998) has had a huge influence on my way of approaching filmmaking. I love to break the standards of how to make a film. For me all the Dogma films feel more real than any other film does, because they’re stripped down, raw and totally in the hands of the director. To me, they feel more like a glimpse into real life.
Watching Madness of Many, a bunch of scenes reminded me of Lucifer Valentine, especially the puking, of course. The low key filming seemed a lot like „german expressionism meets Hellraiser“. What were the main influences for this movie and for you in general?
Watching Slaughtered Vomit Dolls changed my life in some way. I had never seen anything so extreme at that time, and I never even thought such films existed. It inspired me to make my own ‘Vomit Gore’ film, but with my own twist on it. That is when I came up with the idea to ‘Madness of Many’. Some clips in MOM also pays tribute to LV’s work. However, the main influence for MOM was to make a film that in details described the meaning of life and the meaning of suffering. It was a mission for me to get all of my thoughts about our existence out through that film. In general, I am inspired my surroundings, thoughts, dreams, people etc.
Madness of Many tells a very grimm and fierce story, but embraces the pain and suffering. There’s almost a happy ending. It’s kind of optimistic Nihilism. What was your philosophical approach to this movie?
To describe that death is an illusion and that humaneness cannot be developed through education – only by painful experiences. To tell that everything happens for a reason. That we need the suffering in our life. It’s all about the contrasts.
Madness of Many is far from conventional cinema. There’s no clear structure; I was permanently disoriented and tried to figure out what’s going on – especially with the changing actresses. Why did you choose this non-linear, surreal type of storytelling?
For me, films a not about the story, but about feeling. A film must be seen in the same way, as a painting. To me, it is the most beautiful art form, were you are able to incarnate “high-intellectuality”. In MOM it is up to the audience to connect the pieces and complete the puzzle.
The acting in „A God Without a Universe“ was stellar, especially by Anne Sofie Adelsparre and Johannes Nymark! How did you happen to cast them? Did you know each other beforehand?
I had worked with Adelsparre on my film Monstrosity, where she plays one of Kevin and Nord’s victims. After the shooting, we agreed to make another film together, which eventually became “A God without a Universe”, which I wrote during my time at the European Film College in Denmark. I didn’t knew Nymark, but I thought it would be perfect to get him aboard, as he, at the time, was known for his Disney musicals etc. Again, it is all about contrasts, so I try to cast people in the opposite role of what they are in real life. Nymark was very interested in being a part of the film, so everything felt in place.
Movies with controversial topics such as yours are a real challenge for the actors. Would you say it’s generally hard to find actors for movies this intense?
The most interesting thing to me, about filmmaking, is working with actors. That is the process I enjoy the most. I would not say it is difficult to find actors for extreme scenes. Every time we seek actors for extreme projects, we get many messages/mails. Like a lot! As long as you make the actors trust you, and you’re professional about the whole thing, not acting like an amateur, everything is possible.
While „Madness of Many“ certainly counts as a more experimental type of horror, „A God Without a Universe“ presented as a controversial drama. Your new movie ist called „Your Flesh, Your Curse“. How did your previous work influence your new film?
“Your Flesh, Your Curse” will actually be a continuation of “Madness of Many”, even though it can be seen as a stand alone film. YFYC will also show the audience who know my work, how much of a better director I have become since MOM. It is more a psychological horror film, with some scenes of extreme gore.
What’s your favorite totally corny movie?
All of Schwarzenegger’s action movies before his ‘comeback’.
What are your future plans? Will you stick to horror movies, or are you tempted by other genres?
I don’t see myself bound to one specific genre. My next film after “Your Flesh, Your Curse” will be an abstract avant-garde documentary/drama, called “Forever” starring Rose Milling and Mie Gren. It will be my most personal film ever. It will also be my 7th feature film since 2012.
Thank you very much! 🙂