How did you come up with this idea?
The idea for iceberg licking came to me a few years back on my first voyage to Iceland. It was an overwhelming experience, as I was witnessing so much ice. I had never seen anything like it. Since my youth I’ve only ever associated ice with licking, refreshment, and cooling yourself down on a warm summer day. Surrounded by ice I immediately wanted to taste the experience. I felt like a kid in a candy store full of ice lollies. This was the beginning of the idea of the Iceberg Licking Society.
Who did you make it for?
When a good idea falls into my head I’ll usually carry it around with me until I’ve had the opportunity to manifest it. After I’m finished with the idea, I’m now free to share it with friends, family, and the rest of the world. This is the greatest gift I could think of giving, so in the end, my films are for everyone.
Did you use actors or real people? How does this affect directing? What do you prefer?
I prefer to work with real people and real characters, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction the real poetry of humans comes to life when playing themselves.
How do you create a narrative? How much of this was planned vs improvised?
I would say its a mixture of both planned and improvised. There are moments you cannot physically plan for, so when I notice opportunities during a shoot I tend to jump on them. A lot of the real magic usually happens in these moments.
You created a whole brand for the film. Love it. Why do this?
I wanted the film to be a part of a bigger campaign with an important message attached to it. To go full circle with the idea we built a website and membership system, so no matter where you are in the world you can be involved and contribute to the cause. We also teamed up with Iceland’s leading environmental NGO Landvernd, building a web store with proceeds supporting their climate change programs.
Do you want people to think your work is earnest? Or to see the parody?
The great thing about an audience is that everyone gets to have their own unique viewing experience. My goal was to create a story that takes you on a rollercoaster; it’s a range of different emotions that lets you off at the end with a clear, hitting question about the environment.
If people want to see this as parody then that is their viewing experience. Either way, satire and comedy demand critical reflection on the part of the audience.
Are you drawn to working at the intersection of humour and seriousness? Why?
I think some of the most serious people in the world built a deeper public appreciation through their openness to humour. If you can translate your ideas with both ends of the stick then you’re going to open yourself up to a wider audience with greater critical reflection.
What is it that makes you want to provoke with your work?
I’ve always loved to provoke people from a young age. I think it comes down to me seeing things from different angles and wanting others to see what I see. With a medium like film, I’m able to display my thoughts, whilst pushing and pulling the normality of boundaries.
Did you lick an iceberg? What did it make you feel?
Yes, I did. It was the closest I’ve ever been to Mother Nature.
Were there any happy accidents when filming?
I approached this film with no clear expectations and an open mind. I knew I had a good story, so throughout the filming process it was all about trial and error. The finished film is very different from the original treatment. It really grew organically during the edit and ended up turning into something much greater than I could have expected. Happy accidents, moments of luck, fate, and timing helped bring this project together.
Do you not think it’s a bit inappropriate to create comical films about important issues? You could be seen to be taking the piss? I’m playing Devil’s advocate…
Humour has the power to provoke discussion and inspire change. I showed this film to a journalist I know who thought the film might be deemed as a little insensitive. I think without realizing it they were looking at the film from a closed-minded perspective, and this is the exact opposite of what we need when dealing with subjects like climate change.
Do you prefer to give a clear message with your work? Or leave ambiguous?
I once heard David Lynch say that he doesn’t like to explain his films once he’s done with the edit. If he told everyone what to think in the cinema, the audience would end up having a similar experience. I agree with his view; let people’s minds wander, and if they need a little help at the end I’m always willing to chat.
Are there any other environmental issues you have ideas for films for?
Looking after our environment is the most important subject we could ever write about. In recent years the environment has become a key topic, and it will continue to be an important theme throughout my future work.
What makes you deem a piece of film ‘a success’?
What I deem to be a success has definitely changed over the years. I think now for me it’s important to witness my own personal growth in my practice, this helps create stepping stones to bigger and grander projects. One aspect that will always stay important is to succeed at putting a smile on a stranger’s face and to give that stranger a unique viewing experience like never before.
Do you think it’s important for filmmakers to have a ‘style’ or be very flexible? What would you say your style/vibe is?
For me, style manifests itself from your own personal vision. It’s all about how you interpret the world around you.
I began to find my style of filmmaking early on, whilst studying video art in Melbourne, Australia. Nothing was right or wrong – it was more about personal growth and finding truth in your own practice.
In this last year, my filmmaking has grown and developed to become more personal. I have encountered great collaborators, but I’ve also learned to collaborate with myself, adding a bigger part of me to my work.
ABOUT ICEBERG LICKING SOCIETY Established in 2009, Iceberg Licking Society is a community of like-minded individuals that travel all over the world in search of quality icebergs to lick. As an association of more than 2500 members worldwide who share this passion, they have come together not only to preserve the instinct to lick but also to protect current and future lickers’ rights. ILS members are responsible for a distinguished collection of famous firsts: Iceberg A-22 first lick, A-38 first lick and Iceberg B-15 first lick. Through its work in research, education, public service, conservation, and exploration, the society’s mission today is to stop the melt. https://iceberglickingsociety.com/
ABOUT LANDVERND Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, is a national environmental non-governmental organization based in Iceland. Landvernd was founded in 1969 with a main emphasis on nature conservation, in particular on the conservation of soil and vegetation. In the last two decades, Landvernd’s efforts have increasingly concentrated on protecting Iceland’s unique wilderness and landscapes, especially in the uninhabited central highlands of the country. This is not least due to an increasing demand of energy for heavy industry, notably aluminum, causing non-reversable destruction of large sensitive areas in Icelandic nature. https://landvernd.is/en-landvernd-icelandic-environment-association/ @Landvernd