SxSW 2021 Interview – THE EXPECTED director Carolina Sandvik

Having its North American premiere at SxSW 2021 Online, THE EXPECTED is about a father-to-be ends up in a feverish nightmare after a miscarriage, when a strange entity seems to be growing in the mother’s blood. We spoke to director Carolina Sandvik ahead of the film’s screening in the Animated Shorts Competition. 

Welcome to SxSW! Is this your first SxSW experience?

Thank you! Yes this is my first.

How did you first hear about SxSW and wishing to send your project into the festival?

I can’t remember the first time, but years ago one of my teachers in art school more or less commanded me to apply. I have kept it in mind since then!

Tell me about the idea behind your project and getting it made!

I had noticed how latex reacts to certain types of clay on some prototype dolls I had made. The clay would harden and shrink and the latex would look like oversized flabby skin. So the first picture I had in mind was that of a pregnant person who becomes this skin shell after a miscarriage. This idea stayed with me for a couple of years until I started writing a story to go with it. It is made with almost no budget and I was able to work on it thanks to an artist working grant I was fortunate to get.

Who are some of your inspirations? Any particular filmmaker or movie that inspired you for this project?

The Expected has some body horror elements in it, so it’s a given to give credit to David Cronenberg for that inspiration. I’m inspired by horror film in general. This is the first time I made a film about a couple and one of my favorite horror films about a couple is Andrzej Żuławski’s POSSESSION from 1981.

How did you put this together from a technical viewpoint? What sort of tech did you use and any challenges?

The film was shot with three different cameras. Halfway through shooting I had a break in in my studio and my camera was stolen. My studio neighbor was kind enough to lend his camera to me until I bought a new one. So apart from some insurance disappointments the theft didn’t affect the process. It actually improved the film since I ended up getting a better camera. The whole film is shot with a piece of plastic on the lens because I wanted it to have a slightly hazy look. I don’t like to add any effects in post production so everything has to be done directly on set, in camera. Even though I am using a DSLR I want the animation to be as “analogue” as possible.

Being all virtual this year, what do you hope to get out of the virtual SxSW experience? And where is it going next?

I will pour a glass of whiskey and enjoy the SXSW lineup of shorts, features and what not in my living room cinema. 

I am awaiting response from a bunch of festivals and apart from that I will have some exhibitions and corona-safe screenings in Sweden the upcoming months. The film will also be broadcast on Swedish National Television which is cool!

What would you suggest to film festivals as a way to show more short films or make them more accessible to audiences across the country?

In general, I think the short film format needs to be recognized as an art form in its own right, and not just as the cheaper less glamorous cousin of the feature. If it’s true that the attention span is shortened in our social media conditioned brains, then short films need to be the future?

If you had one piece of advice to offer someone to get their start as a creator or filmmaker in the industry, what would you suggest?

I have entered the film industry through some kind of back door. I have never gone to film school and my only education is in Fine Art. For me, my primary focus has always been to just work and get my projects done, and once they are done I find out how they are received, and what kind of audience they appeal to. Since I make animations I am able to do most of the work myself, without a huge budget, so my advice is that even loners can be filmmakers.

And finally, what is your favourite short film of all time?

I think the animation medium applies well to the short format, so I would say something by Jan Svankmajer!

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to!

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