Award Winners Interview: Maximilien Van Aertryck & Axel Danielson

Maximilien Van Aertryck & Axel Danielson are the directors behind the crowd-pleasing short, Ten Meter Tower (Hopptornet), winner of the European Live Action Award at Encounters 2017. The film is a humorous & fascinating look those about to make a leap from a 10m diving tower. Encounters' Izzy Coombes dives right in.

Directors of Ten Meter Tower

First off, congratulations on your 2017 Encounters Festival win! How does it feel?

Fantastic! Thanks Encounters for inviting us!

Your film gets an incredible audience reaction every time – as directors do you see similar patterns emerging, or does it constantly evolve?

Behind the scenes Ten Meter TowerIt’s interesting to see that the film gets the same reactions no matter the region and culture. Many people told us it’s the most intense screening they have been too. A few weeks after the film went viral through the New York Time’s website another clip was filling everybody’s feeds: It’s called “Children interrupt BBC News interview”.

This is probably the most famous video the BBC has ever produced, and it was done by accident. What we find interesting as filmmakers is that even though the title of such videos reveal exactly what is going to happen, we still want to watch it: because we want to know what it looks like when it happens! We should follow this curiosity more.

Behind the scenes Ten Meter Tower

The film examines human behaviour and vulnerability, why was it important to you to make a film that exposes this in such an honest way?

A couple of months ago we got a call from a large sports corporation. They had seen the film online and loved it and were interested in a collaboration. They explained to us that they make 100 films a year, all of which are about adrenaline: fast editing, hard music, conflict escalation, etc. Then here we come and do the opposite: long shots, a fixed frame, no music. They were amazed that it actually worked!

We told them that the key lies in the fact that adrenaline is a side product of the real interest: studying something human, and letting the images speak for themselves. We want to create images from which we can learn about the human condition.

Behind the scenes Ten Meter TowerWho surprised you the most whilst shooting it?

You could never judge who would or wouldn’t jump based on appearance. The social symbols we associate with courage, such as physical strength and extraversion, proved to be totally useless in the betting game. But yes – at least in our non-scientific study – women showed greater bravery than men. That is, if jumping equals being brave!

Finally, what’s next for you both? Do you have any upcoming projects you can talk to us about?

Right after “Ten Meter Tower” we made a short named “Because the World Never Stops”. It’s entirely shot in the newsroom of Swedish national television, using their own studio cameras while they are on air. The result is a humorous study of news anchors going in and out of their roles, as well as a critique of TV aesthetics.

At the moment we are developing this further into a feature in which we point our cameras towards modern image-making. We will re-edit soccer games, test eye-tracking technology and film TV-viewers through their screen.

We’re also working on a secret project about space exploration!

You can watch the trailer from Maximilien Van Aertryck & Axel Danielson’s Ten Meter Tower below, or enjoy the full film on Vimeo