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Move On: An interactive film

Move On: An interactive film Move On isn’t just a movie: it’s an interactive project. The road film, which centers around a journey through eight European countries, is inspired and influenced by mass collaboration. Anyone who wishes to can send in ideas and photos to further the plot. If director Asger Leth likes the ideas, they might find their way into the film itself, or influence the actions of the main character (played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen). Sound interesting? Then check out this Telekom-conducted interview with Leth below for more information.

How do you feel about the fact that you are about to undertake this project?
I’m excited. We’re going on a road movie through eight countries in Europe and we have three months to prep and shoot. It’s a massive project and we’re going to involve a lot of people from all over Europe, which is part of the fun.

What’s the inspiration for Move On?
There’s a general concept that we’re making a road movie where we go through eight different countries and we have a main character who finds his way through all these countries while also interacting with people locally. But I also felt that we needed to add a thriller element to the story to engage the curiosity of the audience enough that you want to find out why the hero is going through all these countries. He’s on a mission so you have to keep track of the story. It becomes a mystery thriller.

There are elements of great crime thrillers to this story – reminiscent of films like Drive, Ronin and Payback – do you see the narrative flow staying true to this genre, as the interactive participation is incorporated?
That’s the challenge and part of the attraction. I think that it has classical spy thriller ideas to it and I would like to add texture and mood from more recent versions like Drive. But I know that because I’m asking for the participation of people from these countries we will get thrown a few curveballs as well as a lot of help.

What can you tell us about the hero at the heart of the film?
He’s a classic movie hero: a guy who has a profession, a guy who’s got a past that we don’t know about. We’ll understand from the first shot that this guy is carrying the weight of his past and that he knows what he’s doing – he’s a professional. Those kinds of characters are fascinating to watch because they can transport you through not just a story but in this case a geography and a whole chain of countries.

Will he be shaped as the story goes along, or is he already fully formed in your mind?
I’m still shaping him but as a general basic idea he’s one of the best at what he does. He doesn’t need much help but he’ll open up through the movie. I like the fact that you have a character who’s sort of silent but will have to engage with locals because that’s a part of the mission. And maybe, ultimately, that changes his approach.

Why do you think we as viewers engage so viscerally with stories steeped in danger and mystery?
It goes back to something basic: a lack of danger in our lives. Remember, we are animals. We used to be monkeys chasing the meat through the wilderness and hitting it with a stone, risking our life every day just to survive. We don’t have that in our lives anymore. So on a genetic level, there’s something healthy about getting transported in movie experiences through dangers and mysteries that we don’t encounter in our own lives. Also, on an everyday level, we get to become the character: you’re on that journey, you’re going through dangers, you’re overcoming obstacles, which is the basic construct of life.

Move On is being positioned as “the first road movie inspired by you”. Could you tell us a little about the way in which the public can get involved?
That’s what makes this project so unique is that we are informing the audience ahead of time that we are going to go through these eight countries and we want people to participate. I have the outline of the story I want to make but there’s ample room to engage… Ideas for locations, or, if our hero is passing through a metro station, are there street musicians playing in the background and who are they? Bands can send in tapes; I will also be asking for extras and supporting cast, maybe speaking roles in different countries. If you want to be a part of this, send us your photos for an extra’s part or even a casting tape where you’re reading the lines. I hope to find talent and ideas out there that we can get into the movie.

How will you balance your own creative vision with the interactive participation of film fans?
I could be a stubborn director who says, “No, this is my vision”, but this project was born with the interactivity so I embrace it fully. However I’m also a filmmaker and I know what elements are necessary for a strong story. As long as that skeleton is in place, it sets you free to open up your mind and let people come in.

Will screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh be on hand during this journey to incorporate fan suggestions into the story?
He’d better be! Matt is very absorbed by the idea of the journey also. Before we start, we’re going to go on our own road trip through the same countries to get inspired. And he’ll definitely be on hand for the shoot.

Do you think we will see more and more of these collective creative projects in the future as technology and communications empower a greater number of people to express themselves creatively?
Yes, because I think that people are getting better at understanding the basic elements of what it takes to make a movie. That doesn’t mean that everybody’s a director but there are a lot of creative people out there who instinctively can become a part of a movie. Forever and ever movies will be told by a director with a vision but participation and collaboration is definitely something we’ll see more of.

Do you think this pioneering project will lead to increased interaction between film fans and filmmakers during the production process in the future?
I don’t think it’s going to erase the old-school idea of what a film is. It’s an added element and because of general interactivity in the world today, with social media and the internet, it’s possible that we will see more of it. People want to be engaged.

You’ve filmed on the fly in Port-au-Prince’s most difficult neighborhoods for Ghosts of Cite Soleil. You’ve also shot Sam Worthington standing on a ledge in New York City for a large portion of Man On A Ledge. How do these two opposite directing experiences prepare you for the challenges of this film?
In a weird way, this is a marriage between the two. You can do a road movie in very controlled circumstances or you can do it in a way where you open up to the world. And I would like to open up to the world. I have a strong story I want to tell but by going through all these countries and asking for all this interaction, that means philosophically that you open up to the world and keep your eyes open. I would like to be influenced by real life. That’s a documentary approach. In a movie like Man On A Ledge, where you have a guy standing in a fixed location, that’s a case of getting a sense of who this man is even though you’re not giving him a lot of room to express himself. We’re going to have moments like that in Move On, where our hero is on the road, driving. That’s a fixed situation where you try to get a sense of the core of the person just by observing.

What do you anticipate the biggest differences will be between making this film as opposed to others?
The biggest difference is going to be the fact that we’re asking people to participate and come with all kinds of ideas and contributions to the story that I’m going to try to incorporate. That’s a massive difference, a fascinating difference. It’s going to be interesting to be on that journey.

Do you think that these sort of collaborative creative projects and the idea of the public coming together to create something can address some of these issues?
Yes. It’s difficult to finance movies, and getting more difficult. Maybe one way is to engage people around the world. Now we’re doing it with eight countries in Europe and I see a future for more participation like that. You see it in different areas right now, like this place called Kickstart online where people can go in and become participants by actually helping to finance movies. They can help make some movies possible that weren’t possible before.

Now that you know the facts, it’s time to get involved! Head over to Move On‘s official website, choose your location, and become a part of film history!

Published June 28, 2012.