Whateverest is the funny, heartbreaking, award winning ‘documentary’ that seems too far fetched to be made up.
Todd Terje’s summer anthem ‘Inspector Norse’ was inescapable in 2012. The track features on Terje’s It’s The Arps – an EP built around the ARP 2600 analog syhtesizer, best known for creating the voice of R2D2 in the Star Wars movies. Norwegian director Kristoffer Borgli created a short documentary about the unlikely inspiration for the track, Marius Solem Johansen, a failed musician currently running a tanning salon and caring for his poorly father. Meanwhile his alter-ego ‘Inspector Norse’ creates dance videos for Youtube…
How did the project come about? It was me calling Todd Terje, saying I was in love with his track ‘Inspector Norse’, and that I wanted to make something. A few days went, I made an idea about a fictitious documentary, and then we met for coffee and discussed this. It was basically decided there and then to do it.
At what point did you decide that it was going to be more than a music video? Was it always the plan? Yeah, it was always a short film idea, not a music video idea.
Absurd as the story may be, the depth of Marius’ character and the reasons for his condition seem believable enough to leave viewers wondering if this is a genuine documentary, does this surprise you? I wanted it to feel real. I wanted, and still want, the audience to have the same experience as when viewing a genuine documentary. Your mind is set totally differently when you believe what you see or read is real. It’s a bit like what the Coen-brothers did with their opening credits for Fargo, saying it was a real story. I wanted it to be within the limits of probability. The incredible acting of my friend Marius is also something I can understand convinces people, and that’s all his effort. But we have deliberately tried to fool the audience, but only for their own good, so that they have the best possible experience watching the film. A quick google-search upon seeing the film will tell you it’s written, and maybe I should have included this fact in the end credits (but then I wouldn’t have won the documentary prize at AFI Fest? haha).
Was it a work of pure imagination or is his situation based on any truth? There is no truth to the specific story, but written from a personal place. At the time, I felt very uncreative and had a little personal crisis. I started envisioning myself as this failed film maker who just stopped making stuff at the age of 27.
Tell us a bit about your writing process, does it differ in your personal and commercial work? Yes, it’s very different, two different worlds. On commercials I get a script by an agency, and on private projects it’s all me. But I try to do every project with the same mindset.
Your recent film Real Life Exp. is a collaboration with Lindstrom. What role does electronic music play in your life and do you see these collaborations as a running theme in the future of your work? I don’t place bigger importance on electronic music vs other genres, it was the label Smalltown Supersound who put up the money for Real Life Exp. as a collaboration with Lindstrøm. Visually I felt that the girls, that CD-player, that swimming pool mixed with Lindstrøms latest album on a burnt CD had some magic to it. And as his album cover; an unexpected pairing with the music. But I do listen to a lot of electronic music, there’s just so much good stuff going on.
What’s next, will you stick to music videos and shorts or do you plan to make a feature? I’m releasing a new music video for Norwegian act Young Dreams very soon, and trying to get funding for both a short film and my first feature. So yeah, it’s definitely moving quickly towards feature, but I’ll still be doing other projects.
Watch the full length film here.
Text: Hugo Allen