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Wiebke von Carolsfeld Interview – European Union Film Festival 2016


Movie “Stay” directed by Wiebke Von Carolsfeld touches upon a love story between two people who have to learn about themselves and decide their future being apart from each other. Having only five minutes on a scene to share, Taylor Schilling and Aidan Quinn felt that was enough to unfold the depth of Abbey and Dermot’s relationship.

During the European Union Film Festival, I had the pleasure, for the second time to talk with the writer/director Wiebke Von Carolsfeld to discuss her movie “Stay”.

Movie “Stay” directed by Wiebke Von Carolsfeld touches upon a love story between two people who have to learn about themselves and decide their future being apart from each other. Having only a five minutes or a scene to share,  Taylor Schilling and Aidan Quinn felt that was enough to unfold the depth  Abbey and Dermot`s relationship

During the European Union Film Festival, I had a pleasure, for the second time, to talk with the writer/director Wiebke Von Carolsfeld to discuss her movie “Stay”.

MOVIEMOVESME: What made you tell the story of Dermot Fay and Abbey?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: It’s based on a book so that’s where the story comes from but I do like the idea of two people in love but who are not sure how to make it work for themselves. So they have to each grow up in their own way to be ready for each other and I kind of like that idea. It’s not like one needs to be ready or the other one. The obstacle really for both of them is themselves. For Dermot who is so much older the problem funnily enough is that he’s so immature. There’s a line in the film where he says, “So you’re telling me to grow up.” He does at the end of the film through his interaction with the other characters.

MOVIEMOVESME: You leave the audience to decide what to do with the emotions. It’s not like you watch the movie and start feeling sorry or bad. Can you talk about it?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: I like to engage audience’s emotion and minds. I think it is important to fill these holes in the narrative so people have to work on it and engage in it. That said, I’m a story-teller, so I do manipulate people with how I cast it, how I stage it. But I do want them to come to their own conclusions.

MOVIEMOVESME: How much did you contribute to the editing process as you’re an editor as well?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: This one was actually edited by an amazing editor who has edited a lot of films and he did a great job. I was the director and not the editor so I sat in a lot of it and he edited it a lot. I do bring in an editor’s sensibility; I tend to be very hard on my own stuff and wanting to cut stuff out. And he often said, “No no no, it would be nice. Put it back put it back.”

MOVIEMOVESME: Can you talk about the location which pretty much sums up the mood of the film?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: The location was super important for me. It’s set in Connemara which in Ireland is considered like the far wild west. It’s a part of Ireland which was never colonised by the English, that’s why they still speak Irish in the stores. There was of course talk to shoot it close to Dublin, which would’ve been cheaper, but I said it had to be Connemara, it had to be really remote. I love the landscape, it’s so not typical Irish. I didn’t want to make a typical cute Irish movie, so I loved the harshness, the expanse, the stones, the water… It was just very important to me.

MOVIEMOVESME: What do you enjoy more, directing or editing? Or what allows you to see a film from different perspectives?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: As an editor, you do learn to watch film many, many, many, many times and still somehow have distance to judge what you’re looking at. I think I had to bring that as a director to it. If it’s better to cut something out, I will. I don’t like keeping things that are not absolutely necessary. There’s a reason for everything that ends up in this film.

MOVIEMOVESME: Did you know who you were going to cast when you were adapting the book to a screenplay?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: I knew the male protagonist very early on. He was involved for a long time because it was always important to me that it had to be a sexy man. There are too many films made about older men and young women. Most of those films are made by men, so you have gorgeous young women and not so gorgeous middle-aged guys. So, for me he had to be sexy and he had to be charming. For middle-aged Irishman, there really isn’t that wide of a casting choice. So, I saw him years before we shot and then I met with him in New York. Abby the girl was much more complicated search. Taylor came pretty late to the project when I already scouting in Connemara. It was before she did Orange is the New Black, she had not done a movie, she was not a household name at all. But I met her over skype and had a really great conversation and so I cast her.

MOVIEMOVESME: The age difference between the protagonists was very well conveyed in the film. Can you talk about it?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: That was a very tricky bit in the screenplay that he had to be much older than her and yet we totally have to believe that they’re in love with each other as they have very little screen time together. They are only together for the first 10-15 minutes. That’s a very tricky thing to do story-telling wise. I think this makes this thing quite special.

MOVIEMOVESME: As a person who creates characters from scratch and characters based on novels. How do you visualize them?

Wiebke Von Carolsfeld: I think once I write a character I make them my own. That said, I think I loved the book because of its characters. For me this isn’t really a love story, it’s a story about five people looking for a home or a place to stay. It’s Dermot, Abby, Shaun, the kid, the pregnant girl and to a much lesser degree but also the English archaeologist. Those characters are all outsiders and in the course of the film they all find a place to stay. It’s partly because of marketing and partly because of the way we look at films. These five characters come very much from the book. Who’s not close to the book in that particular case is the pregnant girl; there’s no pregnancy in the book and she goes back to Montreal because her dad calls her as he’s sick. I wanted her to go on her own as I like strong female characters. For me that was really important. I can’t write characters I don’t love; I know they are all faulty but I love them all. Life’s too short to live with people that are not nice, isn’t it? I feel like in all my films there are all really nice people and I think people for the most part do have redeeming qualities.


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