I sat down with John-Erling Fredriksen to talk about his company, Runaround Film, as well as his work as Director of Photography (DOP). I used to be a 3D Animator for a VFX company in London a few years back and having some experience with cinematographers I inquired John-Erling about his views on the current situation in the Film industry on the local and global markets. I asked John-Erling if cheaper markets affect the Film industry in Norway. We also discussed about current technologies, like the digital RED camera, and his methodologies as a DOP.
Fig. 1 Runaround Film, Logo (2015).
Carlos Villarreal Kwasek: We are with Runaround Film today, John thank you so much for your time. I would like to start by asking you what is Runaround Film and what is your role in the company?
John-Erling Fredriksen: Basically it’s a rental company. That is the short explanation. There are a lot of big operations in Oslo and around the world, we are a small operation. We are two guys. We are mainly cinematographers. Mainly my time is spent shooting films and I have this little side project which is owning the equipment and renting it.
Carlos: Your main income is through the rentals?
John: No, my main income is as a cinematographer. We started to buy the equipment that we felt we wanted to own. Special things that the big rental houses don’t have. Often you do small little cool projects with very little money involved. It’s cool to own your own equipment because we are still artists and we want to make good work. That’s how this business started. Now we rent to small productions and we offer small cheap packages.
Carlos: Do you include yourself in the package sometimes?
John: I often use the equipment myself, specially for low budget, but I try very hard to separate myself from the company. We own certain brand of cameras and I don’t want to be associated with that brand.
Carlos: Do you work as an individual then? Not through your company.
John: Yeah, I work as a freelancer.
Carlos: You are going to Uganda to work for a Norwegian project. How much of your work is local and how much is international?
John: Yes this is a local Norwegian project entirely. I have all my connections in Norway. My work is usually for Norwegian companies but I often travel to shoot outside.
Carlos: Do you want to expand?
John: Yes but for the moment I work with a core of Norwegian Directors. In the future would be nice to do the American big scene [laughs].
Fig. 2 Runaround Film, RED (2015).
Carlos: Working with Norwegian Directors. Do you think that this might give you some exposure?
John: Yes. Actually I had a short-film nominated for an Academy Award and now I have another one that just qualified.
John: Thanks! As long as I feel I get better as a DOP I can get the exposure as well.
Carlos: Do you collaborate with VFX?
John: A lot. I am very much the bridge between the VFX and the Director. VFX is very tight with what the Director wants, his vision, but I am the guy that is more technically able to explain how things are going to look like. Often we plan with the Director how are we going to shoot and then I can explain this to the VFX.
Carlos: How did you started building your network? You seem very well connected.
John: I don’t think I will ever feel safe about networking and getting jobs [laughs] but the biggest thing for me was Film School. I started my network there and I also have contacts from my experience before on the ground.
Carlos: What is your strategy when work flow is low?
John: Try not to look desperate [laughs]. There are no agents in Norway and when you are working on a project you loose touch with your contacts. Lots of paranoia I guess [laughs].
Carlos: You own digital RED cameras. Do you still use celluloid film and what are your views on digital film?
John: I try to use celluloid but it’s hard, I rarely do.
Carlos: Is it easier?
John: Yeah obviously is easier.
John: Quality is good, but celluloid has certain look, certain texture. Celluloid is too expensive but even if it’s not, it’s just too much hassle. Send the film to development to Easter Europe and you get it back a week later and hope that nothing went wrong. Digital is good but it’s always correct and clean and it’s not always what you want.
Carlos: What is the competition with markets abroad?
John: It’s very different for VFX than for us. Norwegian studios are struggling as production is going to Easter Europe, but still I go with Norwegian productions to shoot abroad. It’s not a problem for me, even if they can get a cheap DOP in Romania, but it’s different with people on the ground like gaffers.
Carlos: What is the future for Runaround Film and you?
John: We try to help smaller productions and I try to help young DOPs. For myself, I just want to get better. I love film.
Carlos: One advice for young filmmakers.
John: Don’t be afraid to fail. Do lots of films.
Carlos: Thank you so much for your time and good luck in Uganda.
John: Thank you.
It was a pleasure to interview John-Erling and I feel I gained important insight into his work, his company and the local Film market. Although Runaround Films does not represent the main income for John-Erling, it is still an important asset for him as an artist and at the same time provides a great service to small upcoming local talents. It is inspiring to find people that help their community.
Certainly international markets provide different challenges for VFX than for Films but it’s encouraging to hear that John-Erling is able to work despite production moving abroad.
I think that each one of us will have our own preferences when it comes to technology but what’s important is to continue evolving and innovating as artists. As John-Erling puts it in his own words “I just want to get better”.
(+47) 9964 4548 John-Erling
(+47) 9754 4021 Torkel
Fredriksen John-Erlin. (2015) Interviewed by Carlos Villarreal Kwasek for IDI Creative Industries: Business Perspectives, 29 June 2015 [online] Available at: Sound Cloud [Accessed 3 July 2015].
List of Images
Fig. 1 Runaround Film, Logo (2015). [image online] Available at: Facebook [Accessed 3 July 2015]
Fig. 1 Runaround Films, RED (2015). [image online] Available at: Facebook [Accessed 3 July 2015]