Niclas Bendixen, director
|Can you briefly describe what DITTE & LOUISE is about?|
Niclas Bendixen: DITTE & LOUISE is a movie about two friends who want to make it in show business. Ditte has a wish to become a film star. When she realizes she is too old and and the only roles she is offered are old prostitutes or someone’s mother. Ditte makes the decision to make herself an alter ego as the man Ditlev. Instantly, Ditlev is cast as the leading Viking in a large-scale movie, and fame is just around the corner. This puts a strain on the friendship with Louise. Ditte puts it off stating that Louise is just jealous because she is not a man. Chaos is lurking around the corner.
The characters are based on a popular series with the same title, named after the main actresses, Ditte Hansen and Louise Mieritz. What was the initial idea and how did you develop it?
Ditte Hansen and Louise Mieritz are two actresses and comedians in real life. Their idea was originally to create a comedy for women made by women. And now you can ask the question what was I doing in that context. Well actually we were two men and two women. Ditte Hansen and Louise Mierits are the creators/writers and Manuel Claro (DOP) and I developed the visuals and style. This partnership started already during the television series.
What were the challenges moving from the shorter serial format to feature film?
I would say it was the other way around; the film gave us the opportunity to go more in depth with the characters than the television format would allow. After making two seasons it was time to let “Ditte and Louise” expand and become a movie. It all felt really natural.
You combine comedy with a reflection on gender equality and #metoo, especially in the entertainment industry. How would you define the humour of your film? How did you find the right tone?
Comedy is always individual, but I always laugh when I can reflect myself in the situation occurring in a comedy. A good way to talk about gender equality is through humour. Both sides of an argument will learn a little more about each other, when humour is used as a means to communicate. You may understand the opposing side a little better. And suddenly it’s not about gender but about human beings. In comedy, if you point the finger at yourself the right tone will present itself.
Besides directing you have also worked as a choreographer in theatre, film and television. How has this influenced your approach on DITTE & LOUISE, for example in terms of timing or the more physical scenes?
Comedy is in a sense like music, you can hear if the scene is playing the way it should. It’s about the pause, attack or the pulse, sometimes even the simple construction of the line/melody. We are all a product of what we have done in life, and my way of doing arrangements with actors and camera can be similar to choreography. It takes a certain kind of actor to play this game on set. They must be free to add a physical layer on top of their acting. Ditte and Louise are absolute masters of this game.
Comedy is not always easy to translate to other languages and cultures. In your opinion, what makes your film resonate with international audiences?
DITTE & LOUISE is most of all a movie about the difficulties in life. The drama is recognizable because it is universal, and right next to the drama is the comedy. If the drama resonates so will the comedy. Or so I hope.