VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Alvesalo, Helena

Helena Alvesalo
Swedish videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
2. When, how and why started you filming?

I’m 43 years old working part time as graphical designer. My educational background is almost non existing. 100 years ago I studied music, wanting to be a pro fluteplayer. But then I changed my mind and stumbled into the world of theatre. I started with stage design and photography. Having my own photo lab in the warerobe. Mixing fluids and developing black and white prints in the glow of a red lightbulb. 17 years ago my first daughter came like a meteor of love. I started to work as a graphical designer, creating a family life in the countryside. Then life just went on. And on. Until 10 years ago… I crashed into a mental wall. Or, you could say that I rushed into that wall with the speed of light. Shocked but still alive I put my self some simple questions: And now? What’s left for me to explore? Where have I NOT been before?

At that time I had a recurring nightdream about moving photographs. It was a calm and jouyful scene with me just sitting, watching amazing, moving portraits.

Then I realized that the answer of my questions were FILM. I just had to start filming! So, I contacted my bank and asked for a loan. The banking woman was chilly but finally I could buy myself a dvcam. I spended hours with the Sony PD-170 manual trying to learn about the technical aspect of my new camera. And after some trial and errors I made my first film. I gathered 13 women in my house. Asked them, one by one, to scream in front of the camera. And much to my amazement they just started screaming. Not fearfully but with rage and anger. My first short were born.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

Investigating the female scream was a way of exploring and processing my own frustration, my own inner scream. I guess that all my films are some kind of investigations. Sometimes with a clear, definite answer and sometimes they just ends with a vague, humble question. Mostly my films are made with a great portion of humour. I consider my self as a committed person. This world of social injustice is urging for a change. And I think humour is an excellent weapon. For me, making film is my contribution.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
I never lack ideas. I lack time. So, I make a lot of extreme short films. I call them Microfilms. I started with my own Microfilm-manifesto 2006. The only limit is time. 60 sec is maximum running length. At the moment I’m preparing Microfilm no 6, a film investigating folklore and nationality.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
My Sony PD 170 is dead and buried. Now I shot with a Canon XF 100 or Canon 550D depending on the film. For sound I use the XF100 or my Zoom H4n. For cutting I use Final Cut Pro X.

7. How do you finance your films?
Sometimes I get funds from the regional or national film board in Sweden but sometimes I just shoot. The fundraising process is slow and I rather adjust my films for my own means and wallet.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I work a lot on my own. I like being a dictator in my own univers. BUT of course I collaborate with others. For example with musicians, actors, artists, editors etc.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
LIFE influences me. And books. I read a lot. Novels, poetry, comics. Honestly I seldom watch films apart from shortfilms.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I’ll keep on making shorts. For ever. And ever.

I have some of my films at youtube:

Have a nice day!