Spotlight: An interview with Louise Hylland ("The Morning Walk")
Louise, you come from a very creative family - your mother, Lisbeth Hylland, is a Norwegian theatre actress, and your father Klaus Hassenkam Eliassen is an entrepreneur. And you yourself are very creative- a 3 times Danish Champion at Karate, actress, writer, and painter with several exhibitions in both Denmark and LA! Do you feel your background influenced your creativity? In what ways?
It would be ignorant to say, that it hasn’t!
I think it has affected me in many ways. I spend a lot of time alone as a child, which made me explore my creativity. Also I have learned a lot from my dads work-ethic, and from my mon her humor, spontaneity and emotional intelligence.
At age 20 you started a clothing brand and sold it 3 years later with international success- which is super impressive! Can you elaborate a bit about that, how did you get involved with fashion and why did you decide to sell?
I got involved in fashion by “accident”. As I was making a living as an artist I painted some different logos and put them on clothes. Some people liked this, so I produced more. I fell in love with creating my own, and the company grew. I based a lot of my branding on the creative industry; film, music. I sold it, because I realised a long the way, it wasn’t clothing I was in love with, it was the creative journey part of it - especially all that involved writing the ideas for our film commercials and photoshoots. I’ve always wanted to act and make film, and it just made me even more clear about that.
When did you first become interested in filmmaking?
I always have. My sister and I always found fun in filming and creating characters. And in school I made, improvised and directed my own “shortfilms” (handheld camera we borrowed from dad).
It took me into my early 20’s, to understand, that I’ve always had a weakness for it.
Alongside writing, you're also acting! Having studied at Lee Strassberg and the Taylor School Of Acting in Los Angeles, as well as the Ivana Chubbuck Class by Thure Lindhardt in Copenhagen, do you often find yourself applying the acting methods you've learned there?
Yes and no. What I have personally found, from the different techniques, classes, ect. is, that these are only guidelines. There are no facit for acting, as it is such a delicate, personal and abstract arena. In the end you are the only one who knows, what works for you. And that education also comes along with life. So my point is yes, you pick up on tools, ways to play with your mind, ways to let go, ways to listen better and be more present (which is meditation, and which is the essential part of acting). And no, I don’t think you can label.
Louise Hylland as Lilly in The Morning Walk
Why did you decide to write The Morning Walk? What was the inspiration?
When I came back from Los Angeles in 2018, I wanted to write little scenes for a showreel. And I really found myself enjoying writing. The inspiration for the narrative, is the (cliché quote), “Life is a state of mind”. We shape our reality through our thoughts. This is measured on cell level. And I believe we remember the stories we tell ourselves. The healthiest, most beautiful, successful and people who live the longest and get sick the least, are the ones who are happy. And who genuinely have hope and feel a joy in living. I know people who have survived diseases that shouldn’t be possible, because they had a very positive mind.
Can you take us through your writing process?
The idea came while I was talking to my sister on the phone. So I actually told her, I had to hang up, because I wanted to write it all down before it disappeared. And then I wrote the script within 24 hours. I just sat on a café and had gallons of coffee and wrote. It was fun.
When writing the script, did you know you were going to play young Lilly? How did you prepare for your role and what was the most challenging thing about portraying her?
Yes. A huge part of why I started writing, was to write roles for myself and my friends. Haha! (🤪)
I spend some time studying Lisbet Dahl, the elderly Lilly, so I could imitate her as much as possible. And it was a little fun to play “old” in a young body.
Louise Hylland and Amalie Gissel in The Morning Walk
How did you go about casting young Olivia and elderly Lilly and Olivia?
Young Olivia is played by my good friend Amalie, who helped produce and bring the movie to life with me. And elderly Lilly and Olivia is played by Lisbet Dahl and Lane Lind, who are two talented but also iconic actors in Denmark, who has been in the game their whole life. So we where very blessed to have them!
The opening scene includes elements of magic and fantasy, from the characters that Lilly and Olivia meet in the garden, to the camera movement and score. Not long after, Lily sits at the doctor's office, and the rhythm completely changes. As the story progresses, you go back and forth between two different periods of their lives, between the cold reality and comforting fantasy (the rising rose, the superhero doctor, etc...). How do you feel about that thin line between fantasy and reality in The Morning Walk, and in films in general?
I feel that reality is in many ways an illusion, as we are coloured by our life experiences, memories, thoughts, wants and needs, and we warp what we see through those glasses. This is a powerful tool, which I think you can use to shape and manifest your reality with as well. Therefore, even though Lilly might seem “delusional” or a little “crazy” to someone, my question is; who is actually crazy? Lilly, who lives in a beautiful world - or those around her who
In the scene at the cinema, Lilly tells Olivia: "The best actors are the ones who don't know that they're acting". This line is very important as it conveys a beautiful message in the film. If you feel young, you can be young. However, (Spoiler Alert), the story ends with a tragedy. Could you talk about this artistic choice, and what do you generally think about happy endings in movies?
It can be a tragic ending, it can also be though of as Lilly finally finding peace. I don’t wanna give the answer to that, I want you to give it your own thoughts. We chose to end the story this way, as we wanted to focus on euthanasia, seen from an emotional POV.
Sophie Gohr did an incredible job with the cinematography. Her compositions are fantastic! What were some of the visual references you used to communicate your vision for the film?
Sophie is incredibly visual, professional and talented. She always has strong visual ideas herself. Marc was also a big part of this.
The film flows beautifully, especially the final sequence which is just heartbreaking... but I bet it wasn’t an easy sail the whole time. Did you encounter any difficulties or challenges during the shoot?
There are a lot of challenges, both in pre, during and post- filming. The film was a “passion project”, meaning everyone worked for free. The challenge with this is, there is a chance of people backing out on production last minute for a paid job. Which is a stress factor. But, it all worked out!
How did you go about the editing of the film with Martha Fjeldmose? When did she come on board? It seems like you landed on a pretty solid cut with the inter-cuts. The pace works well.
She came on board after the shooting was done! The five of us, Sophie, Marc, me, Amalie and Martha sat together and edited it all together.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently filming and directing my new shortfilm: Revolution Of Love.
Which is a different genre and Universe:
The idea is to make it a danish TV-series.
Is there anything you'd like to add and/or someone you wish to thank?
My boyfriend has a good analogy to discribe any business/project/startup:
It’s important to understand that for something to succeed, you have to see it as a rocket existing of all these different functions, motors, machinery, and people managing each section. If just one of the areas is not managed right, the rocket doesn't have enough power to leave the earth and it’ll, well, just explode. So in filmmaking the only reason why something can succeed is when every little job and engine is functioning and thriving that the film-rocket will fly. Therefore - choose your people wisely.
Where can our readers follow more of your work?