Interview with director Marck Lund-Nielsen
Anybody who had their ear caught by ‘Hamburg’, the recent release by London based band Mt Wolf, must also have had their eye caught by its accompanying video. Directed by Danish film-maker Marck Lund-Nielsen, the video perfectly mirrors the subtle soundscapes of the song with its naturalistic imagery. We spoke to Marck Lund-Nielsen about his influences, his cinematographic style and his plans for the future.
Marck Lund-Nielsen is a 20 year old director raised in The Middle East but of Danish origin. When asked how he found his way into film-making he professes, ‘From an early age I realised that I wasn’t cut out for conventional schooling’. Instead, leaning towards a more creative existence, he bought his first camera in 2014 and from then on was drawn to film media. Interested by how he could become so quickly accustomed with directing I raised what it was that influenced his distinctive aesthetic style. Lund-Nielsen confesses that, ‘I can’t say that I have any direct influences as such, but instead try to combine the styles and shots from the films I love.’ More specifically he says, he was drawn to Wes Anderson and his ‘clean, almost comical shots.’
On this project Lund-Nielsen worked with his friend and collaborator Jonas Kekko. He is quick to credit Kekko for a large part of the videos plot. The video was produced with Kekko filming the handheld shots while Lund-Nielsen operated a tripod and glide-track. This accounts for the videos smooth transitional style, a style which parallels the magnitude of Mt Wolf’s instrumentation.
As the conversation touches on his collaborators contribution to the videos plot, I ask how the process of presenting a treatment for a project works. Lund-Nielsen points to finding a location as vital to his creative vision stating, ‘Once I have decided on a location I can weave a plot or story line from there.’ Working on a music video he goes on to state that, ‘With this particular project, I listened to the song until I could picture the scenes that could go with the music.’
For ‘Hamburg’, the duo depicted a man dragging a metal safe through woodland. This was juxtaposed against shots of the man and his partner’s fragmented relationship, set in a darkly lit home space. The image of the man struggling to carry the safe is reminiscent of Sisyphus, who was condemned in Greek mythology to eternally push a boulder in atonement for his sins.
When I raise this comparison the director is keen to distance the video from this influence. ‘The task of carrying the box, is rather a metaphorical; emotional burden.’ he explains. ‘In this case the letter [revealed in the video to be contained in the safe] represents emotions that have yet to be faced, and thus… the box becomes physically heavy.’
What is striking about Lund-Nielsen’s answers is that, alongside Kekko, he is mature beyond his years and experience, and ambitious in what they look to present on screen. Lund-Nielsen goes on to explain that the mans ability to better cope with the weight is an exploration of human nature. He states, ‘the task of carrying the the box becomes harder… mostly due to the human tendencies to focus on the negatives, but once the positive past is remembered, the weight becomes easier to carry.’ The depth of their interest in not only reflecting, but adding further emphasis to an interpretation of the song serves as a credit to the young film-maker’s art.
Bringing us back around to the locations which inspired the plot he is keen to highlight the importance backdrop plays. ‘Room and space places a large role in the interpretation of the video, with each location representing another part of our complex emotions.’, he explains. ‘The forest, with all its sporadic lines in the trees is a symbol for the chaos that can arise in our mind when confronted with a feeling we don’t know how to deal with.’ Contrasting this he states, ‘The shots inside the apartment serve to juxtapose the feeling of being trapped and free… Stressing the feeling of confronting your past to attain peace with your future.’
Lund-Nielsen is certainly confident in his work and rightly so. What he and Kekko have produced in ‘Hamburg’ is a video that not only frames Mt Wolf’s work but also evidences their skill. Both the hugely aesthetic cinematography and the pairs ability to implant material to be interpreted in their work suggest great potential. Alluding to this potential I enquire what Lund-Nielsen has planned for the near future. He replies, ‘The immediate plans are to continue my studies, I have found a great passion in film, and intend on pursuing it. My next project is another collaboration with my talented friend Jonas… into the comical world of cultural differences and the fundamental exchanges we see in travelling and the commercial world of tourism.’
What bleeds through his answer, diplomatic as it tries to be, is that Lund-Nielsen’s heart lies away from his studies and with film. He leaves me with the following tagline for his next project, ‘A sort, aesthetically pleasing cross between An Idiot Abroad and a Vice style documentary.’ While this description could mean a thousand different things, what is clear is that both Lund-Nielsen and Kekko have a future away from their studies, within the world of film.