SAARi still, Ella Mikkola
Interview by Jes Reyes
Altered Esthetics jurors selected your film to receive the Creative Vision Award because of its strength at expanding the documentary form. Can you tell me a bit more about what it means to you to blend documentary with experimental film?
I have realized that I can only make films that I will also like myself if I make them without any genre boundaries. Experimental approach is probably the approach I take naturally when it comes to expressing through filmmaking but I can’t just think that I’ll make an experimental film. The thought behind the film probably leans towards documentary or narrative genre already in the beginning and then I express it through an experimental treatment.
When creating SAARI, how did you approach this blending? What was your process?
After all, SAARI, is my debut film, so when creating it, I was just making a film in the way that felt most natural to me. I had filmed most of the footage already 10 years ago, and for some reason I always went back watching it time after time. At that point I was doing a lot of self-reflection after my move from Finland to Canada and I found this footage helpful. One day I put it to the timeline of my editing program and started to improvise. It was therapeutic. The first version of the narrative was also written that time. Filmmaker and my instructor Mike Rollo encouraged me to use this footage and re-photograph it. And slowly I started to see what I wanted to say and show with it.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating experimental film?
The reason why I want to carry the original thought through an experimental channel is just because it feels the most natural and honest for me. I want to show my subjective vision and make it visible because nothing is objective. Maybe this is why I want to have an experimental element in all of the work I do. Also I like to challenge myself and the way I think and experimental filmmaking is the best way to do this and push myself further in my thinking. It is definitely self-reflective and therapeutic element in my life.
Do you have any new projects you are working on?
I have many of them in my head and they all want to get out, but I have to be patience and let one or two out at a time. One of the projects I am working on at the moment is a experimentation with an interview footage I filmed two years ago in Jamaica. I am using an editing technique that will reform this footage that was made to work in a documentary form. Hopefully I will be able to create a different kind of visual and audial experience from this interview. It is a challenging but exciting project.
What do you want your relationship to be with your local and international arts community?
I have already gotten so much positive re-enforcement from my local arts community in Regina, Canada, and that makes me feel very fortunate. Through this re-enforcement I have learned to understand that the community is in a very important role when it comes to filmmaking. It is very important to me to feel that I belong to somewhere and especially when you are living in a country that is not your home country this becomes even more important. I would of course appreciate to be a part to even larger and international community in the future.
Your Finnish! What brought you to Canada?
Love. I met my partner in Tanzania two years ago and after a long year of distance relationship I moved to Canada. I am very happy that all of this happened.
Where can our audience find you online?
www.vimeo.com/ellamikkola and ellamikkola.tumblr.com
Would you like to share anything else with us?
I think you are going to have a great festival this year and I am more than proud to be in this company of great filmmakers. I hope to get there next year!
Ella would like to recognize Mike Rollo (University of Regina) for his support. Please view Ella's award winning film SAARI during the Impressions screening.
Previous film fest posts from Altered Esthetics blog: