Magazine article Screen International

Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Body

Magazine article Screen International

Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Body

Article excerpt

Dan Berk and Robert Olsen tell Jeremy Kay about what makes them jump in the night and their Slamdance-bound story of three bored, stoned girls who head out to a vacant mansion.

Body should prove a popular draw when it premieres at Slamdance in Park City on Sunday January 25 at 10.30pm.

The film centres on three bored, stoned girls who head over to a mansion vacated for the holidays by the uncle of one of the three. And then...

Berk and Olsen tell Jeremy Kay about how they came up with the idea and what makes them jump in the night. Preferred Content represents US rights.

Who came up with the idea?Honestly, all of our ideas are joint efforts. Normally if someone has half an idea, the other person will fill it in. We operate as kind of two halves of the same brain, so by the time the idea is fully formed, there have been so many contributions by either one of us that it becomes impossible to say whose "idea" it was. In fact, in this particular case, we'd credit circumstance more than anything.

We knew a lot of the major ingredients going in. We knew we wanted it to be a one-location film (that's all we had the budget for). We knew we had access to the mansion. We knew we wanted it to be a genre film (either a horror or a thriller). So we sat there for a few days, throwing things back and forth. We'd find an idea we liked, then we'd wind up moving on to something else, but taking bits of that idea and fusing them into the next one. Eventually we wound up with Body. Our ideas are never just a lightbulb going off. It's an organic, evolving process that we both take part in.

How do you write together? And direct?We have a bit of a formula for the writing. Normally, we'll work on the outline together (simultaneously). There's a lot of whiteboard action, pacing back and forth, tossing foam footballs - you know the drill. Once the outline is finished, one of us will break the ice and write the first few scenes. Then he'll pass it off to the other person. That person will read what's been written, making whatever changes they see fit along then way, then take on the next few scenes. The process then just repeats itself, back and forth, until the first draft is finished. If there are any disagreements, or if someone wants to make a particularly major change to a portion the other person just wrote, we'll pause and discuss.Once we have that first draft, we'll each read separately and take notes. We compare and compile them into a master document. From there, we start to work simultaneously again. We go through the script, implement all of the notes, then we just repeat that process. We'll read the script aloud several times, pausing to perfect dialog or tweak screen direction, until we feel comfortable. Then we send it out to some trusted friends, get their notes, and repeat the process yet again. The script always continues to evolve, especially once you do some table reads, but that's the recipe for the most part.

Directing is way less formulaic. It's really just all about trust. By the time we're actually shooting, we've prepared so much that we both know what we want. So it doesn't matter if one of us is talking to the actors and the other is having a discussion with the DP - we both know what we're going for. Disagreements will always pop up, but they always produce an even better idea than the original. It's good to have that system of checks and balances. As a solo director, if you have an idea, it's hard to tell if it's a good one or a bad one in the moment. …

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