When a man finds himself in a place of deep sorrow he decides to venture to eastern Europe to clear his mind but when he arrives he’s met with his greatest darkness yet. Peder Thomas Pedersen’s short film Between the Ocean and the Snow, which is co-directed with Heine Kaarsbjerg is the latest instalment in the interconnected output of his work in music and film, is a dark, unsettling noir thriller about a man battling his own morality whilst in a spiralling mental descent. Pedersen follows his protagonist, who is played by the writer/director, through seedy environments lit by neon hues that visually, and at times thematically, recall the work of Nicolas Winding Refn. Directors Notes caught up with Pedersen as Between the Ocean and the Snow arrives online to talk over his artistic influences, the lengthy process of developing the film and his craft as a filmmaker, and his vision for the future of his work as a multi-hyphenated artist.

I read that Between The Ocean And The Snow is linked to your music and previous music videos, could you explain what that connection is?

The Trilogy Of Violence, of which BTOATS is the third part, is the visual manifestation of my music. Each video in the trilogy features my music and me as an actor, director, scriptwriter, etc. The first video is Ghost Of A Smile from 2014, the second video is Shadows Of My Mind from 2017 and the third is Between The Ocean And The Snow. This is sort of a blend and continuation of the two previous parts… a short film/music video hybrid.

Where do you draw inspiration from? You work across different artistic mediums, what informed your vision for Between The Ocean And The Snow?

I draw inspiration from many places David Lynch, Tom Waits, Murakami. I love things that are esoteric and non-explanatory like dreaming with your eyes closed. I would love to explore that more.

How long were you developing Between The Ocean And The Snow both conceptually and in terms of production?

I had the idea many years ago and it has been developed on the side when time has allowed it. It was all about me learning the different trades of producing, scriptwriting, cinematography, etc. while finding good people to help me, for free, so obviously it took some time. It was a long process that was slowed down even more as I had to finish the record as well since the movie and the record are intertwined.

I love things that are esoteric and non-explanatory like dreaming with your eyes closed.

How did the film evolve over that time? Did you collaborate or converse with anyone when you were conceiving this concept of a man confronted by a darkened world?

After my first draft I spoke to Editor Adam Nielsen, who has edited Oscar award-winning and nominated films, and he ripped the script apart and threw out some other ideas for me… It was like crumbs from the rich man’s table. But his comments were good and his ideas much better than what I had, so I just rewrote and it sharpened the film. So, as I said, definitely a learning process, but luckily I’m not too proud.

What differences did he suggest and how did the original draft differ from the final film?

Well as I am not a scriptwriter and have limited experience I had written a script that was way too long and introduced many different characters and wanted to do way too much in my limited timeframe of eleven minutes. As a happy little camper I went to a meeting with film editors Adam Nielsen and Peter Brandt hoping that they would pat me on the head and tell me what a good little boy I was.

That was a good learning experience listening and killing a bunch of darlings and being better off doing so.

However, they kinda ripped my script apart telling me that I wanted to do way too much… and basically Adam said, “I’m not quite sure what you want with this or what I can tell ya!” And then he went on just kinda throwing me some breadcrumbs saying, “What if the child was first a woman and then later on a child… more dreamlike and more in tune with your other films (the music videos”… So I went home with my head down but the next day I sucked up the failure and basically just incorporated what he said and suddenly the film made way more sense and was more me. So that was a good learning experience listening and killing a bunch of darlings and being better off doing so.

How long were you shooting for and how challenging a production was it?

We shot for three days and the production went pretty smooth thanks to David Bauer, Tobias Vestergaard and Heine Kaarsbjeg and all the lovely people helping us out.

Aesthetically, it’s such a beautiful film to look at with an emphasis on neon lighting and deep colours. How did you construct the visuals?

That was David Bauer. He initially wanted to shoot black and white but I convinced him that we should go for colour and we liked the saturated dreamlike textures.

And lastly, what will you be working on once the film and album are released?

Right now I’m making music every day and just bought a new apartment which takes up all my time. But a new album (VOL.2) is in the works and I have a music video idea in black and white that I would love to convince David or Kasper Tuxen to make with me.

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