An interview with Swedish filmmaker Ronny Carlsson.

Ever since our first issue of Goregasmic Magazine I’ve always wanted to make an interview with Swedish director and founder of the webzine FilmBizarro.com. This has unfortunately been postponed each time because of the simple reason that we have managed to fill the number with other rubbish, but finally the time is here, to present one of Sweden's most unknown directors and filmmakers , Ronny Carlsson.

Greigh Johanson:
Hello Ronny, It’s great to finally have you here. Can you describe for us who you really are?

Ronny Carlsson:
- For the purpose of the interview, I would call myself an underground filmmaker and reviewer. I've made a few shorts and features, but more frequently since 2008 I've ran the review site FilmBizarro.com with Preston Carnell. On a more personal note I think of myself as a bored young man who got tired of school way too early, and now I just try to make my way through life fixing whatever I once broke. I live a happy life with my wife and I mostly enjoy just watching movies or playing video games.

You and I became acquainted with each other at a very early stage. It was during the time when you were doing (KRÅKA) Films. Can you describe what that was?

- (KRÅKA) Films was the name of the "production company" I made my first films under. I never grew up with any means to make movies, so I started late. I eventually got a few "real" shorts together (such as Return of the Goremunching Zombozoid: Cannibal From Space) and slapped the "(KRÅKA) Films" name on it. I made these movies to make myself and my friends laugh. The first Zombozoid movie is probably the one I have rewatched the most out of my own work, because it's so fucking stupid that I still love it (except for that dragged out, boring Saw parody scene). A year or two before that short, the first real idea I had for a feature was called "DeLURVitated". That one was never made, but some jokes from it were used in the comedy shorts that followed.

I will now ask that pesky question that I myself detest to get; Who is your favorite director, and what movie do you watch over and over again without getting tired of it?

- This is a hard question for any fan of art, but I would have to say Shinya Tsukamoto is my favorite director. I never know what to expect from his work and he continues to impress me with very few exceptions. However, if I have to pick one single movie I can rewatch whenever then it would be either The Evil Dead or Cannibal! The Musical. Tetsuo: The Iron Man would follow shortly after.

Film Bizarro is today a very popular internet-zine that you started in 2008, together with Preston Carnell. This was also one of my biggest inspirations to launch Goregasmic (with various combined projects through the years). Can you tell us a bit about the foundation on Film Bizarro, what was it that triggered this phenomenon?

- I started talking to Preston Carnell through a horror movie forum and realized not only how similar our tastes in movies were (we both loved Cannibal! The Musical a bit too much), but also how much he knew about surreal and experimental movies (a lot more than I did). Everyday I get new ideas, and one idea I got back then was to start a review site with this random guy I was talking to online. He liked the idea and so we started the site. When we started out I had to read his reviews over and over again because I hated my own writing, so his reviews always forced me to do better. Ever since then we've relied on each others support to continue. If one of us stops, it'll probably be the end of the site.

Shortly after (KRÅKA) Films you continued to develop your cinematic skills through the creation of various experimental films inspired by both Toetag Pictures and magGot Films. This led to the development of Film Bizarro Productions, which you have released a handful of movies through. Video Geisteskrank, My Monster and The Director was an anthology that started everything. Can you tell us about the idea behind this event? What other inspirations were around your filmmaking and who co-operated closely with you?

- Back when I made "Video Geisteskrank", Toetag Pictures were going to release an anniversary DVD set of August Underground and they wanted to include fan art of all sorts. I hadn't made a serious movie prior to that, but after getting in contact with Michael Todd Schneider of magGot Films and seeing his movie "I Never Left the White Room" I saw how you can create experimental art without money. So that fueled me to attempt making the experimental film Video Geisteskrank, with a plot heavily inspired by August Underground. I had no real plans beyond that short, but I enjoyed it so much that I made another movie like it (but more weird) called "My Monster" that continued the story. For a few years after I tried to complete it as a trilogy (the "Video" Trilogy), but I couldn't find the right idea. I attempted it in form of a music video for the band Feeding Fingers (the song Detach Me From My Head), and in a short film called Scars on the Mechanical Witness, but these always felt separated from the first two. Eventually I made Regissören/The Director as a complete exorcism from my obsession with completing the trilogy. It's a movie about how I was going crazy trying to make a movie, and I filled it with weird shorts on the subject. I love the classic, cheesy horror anthologies so that was a big inspiration.

I'm bad at collaborating with people because I don't trust anyone, but I usually involve people somehow. My most common collaborators are Preston Carnell (who acts as a co-producer and he can always tell me when my ideas are stupid), Mikael Johansson (who shot Récompence and Dust Box) and Michael Todd Schneider (we include each other in different ways in our work, and I used his music already in Video Geisteskrank).

Can you tell us if Ingmar Bergman and Lars Von Trier has meant a lot for you and your own cinematic development?

- I grew up hating Ingmar Bergman. His name equaled slow and shitty Swedish dramas. There was nothing more boring. I wanted horror movies, so obviously I ranked movies like Besökarna as higher pieces of art than anything Bergman had made. I now own more movies by Bergman than any other director, so I definitely know how one's taste can change over the years. I got into both Ingmar Bergman and Lars von Trier very late. I started making movies before caring about their work, but now they are among my favorite directors. I don't care what people say about Lars von Trier, I think his public persona and senseless need to provoke is hilarious, and his work is amazing in contrast.

One question I have never received any definite answer to; during a film festival, you showed your fabulous short film Récompence. The equipment in the theater was so old that it doesn't really keep up running the entire coding in a single run. You chose to leave the room without a word. How did you feel during this moment?

- I'm glad you asked. I feel horrible for doing that. I'm a shy person who unfortunately can explode in emotions, but I almost never do it around people. At the screening of Récompence I was very vulnerable after having worked hard for a long time to finish something I felt proud of for once. I was scared to death to screen it among people. I was so on the edge through the screening, so that when the slightest thing happened to "ruin it" I wasn't sure how to react. I just wanted to crawl into my skin, even though it was such an insignificant thing. I just had to get out.

- Sadly, this is the only memory I have of a real screening of my work, so it makes it even more pathetic. I've only had my work screened twice after: one time at Oslo Fright Fest in 2010, where literally not a single person was there to watch it, and then the crew/friend premiere of Dust Box. That one went really well, but it was just friends and family after all.

Récompence got a feature sequel named Dust Box. How do you connect these films together exactly? Is it, like many of your other films, one big puzzle that each spectator manages to put together themselves?

- Récompence and Dust Box are part of my second trilogy which is still incomplete. The final entry is called "Lace Phantom", which is a script I wrote before Dust Box, but it's not time to make it yet. The movies are connected in themes and some stylistic features. I originally called the movies the "Women in the Woods" trilogy (or "Women/Woods" trilogy), but it could just as well be called the "Love" or "Life" trilogy. I love making movies that people can interpret however they please, but the real intent is to connect these movies is by telling stories about life through a female perspective (by a man with no clue how women work). I see them as the movies I grew up hating but now respect a lot more: slow, pretentious, Swedish dramas.

I've got this idea that you mentioned that you went to film school or film studies or something like that, am I right?

- No, nothing like that. I applied to a film school two years ago, but I was already unhappy in the interview. I chose instead to educate myself in literature/writing, but it was mainly for completing my grades (I didn't go to high school). I'd rather choose to focus on literature than general subjects, because I had more of the things I like such as writing. 

Has this helped you out with the script for the latest movies you've done?

- Well, maybe a little. But I was in the same class as Robert in Dust Box and Daniela in Creature 2013/Goodbye, Little Betty . That's where we met.

Your last two films were Creature 2013 and Goodbye, Little Betty. How do you feel about your development unlike the anthology?

- Both of these movies were made out of a compulsive urge to make something. I threw together a script for Goodbye, Little Betty and told Daniela (who had never acted or made a movie before) I wanted her in the lead. She read the script and agreed, but we never read the script again. I wanted to create a post-apocalyptic movie the Värmland way. Rather than a desert wasteland it would probably be snowy and in the woods. Creature 2013 had no script at all. So these are just purely made out of being inspired and wanting to create something on our own and cheap. The movies were shot with my smartphone and were created by just me and Daniela (with some help from Robert Ericsson a few times when it was crucial). These are my favorite movies of mine. Creature 2013 especially, even though I realize I should have expanded it a bit for it to make more sense. Creature 2013 was me blending the experimental arthouse dramas I've made previously, with cheesy '80s horror. 

- I remember the first time I watched Vase de noces (The Pig Fucking Movie), and it was like a 10th generation VHS bootleg where you could barely make things out and it made you feel uneasy. I wanted Creature 2013 to have that similar "what the fuck am I watching?" feel, so I asked Michael Todd Schneider to convert it to VHS a few times over and then back. Not because I wanted it to be part of the Grindhouse trend, but because I love the idea of lost, weird arthouse movies like Vase de noces and Jungfrau am Abgrund.

Do you have something new going on ?

- For a long time I felt forced by myself to make movies. I made some of my work simply because I always wanted to have something new out there. I get new ideas all the time, but I never take time to fully develop them. Dust Box was the closest to a fully developed idea, but that became a hard project for me to make. I have now forced myself to not start new projects at all, so I have nothing new coming. I try to sit back and enjoy other people's creations in form of movies and video games, and right now it feels very good. But I know I will make something eventually.

Besides your webzine and film production, you also have Film Bizarro Releasing , where you have so far released four somewhat odd and unfamiliar movies. How do you feel the market has gone? Are there many who have been in touch with you through the years and asked about any distributions?

- Because I have only printed 50 copies each of the movies I distributed, I have managed to sell them all, but I doubt I could have sold 100 copies as fast. Not because of the movies themselves, but because I am very bad at marketing myself. But I think the biggest indicator that I have helped put out interesting movies is that bigger distributors have now shown interest in releasing some of them. As for people contacting me about them, it's usually way after they are sold out that people start showing an actual interest.

Believe it or not, but I have received dozens of inquiries over the years. Desperate great collectors has both written on Facebook, but also mailed my private mail and asked if I am willing to sell my copies to them for an outrageous large sum of money. Do you understand what FBR really means then?

- It's funny, because some people have sold their copies of them and probably earned more on that one sale than I did on selling all 50. I see that as a compliment to the movies! I smile every time I see someone selling the movies I have made or distributed, because that means someone else out there will discover them.

Do you have plans to release something more in the future via FBR or is the business completely disused?

- Releasing movies have been a lot less stressful than making movies, so I would love to. My initial goal was to put out 4 releases, but I just need to find the right movie to release now. I want to work on a new design for future releases and stuff like that. There was a movie that I was set to release before some of the other titles, but the filmmaker contacted me and said that a previous owner of it wanted to re-release it. It's a shame since I would have loved putting that out and had a fun special edition idea that involved cotton candy. I'd definitely buy their release too. They haven't put it out yet, so it might have been bullshit. I have had the thought to start a real distribution company, but between Njutafilms and Last Exit Entertainment, I'm not sure it's needed in Sweden (though Sweden has never been where I sell the most, it would need to sell well here too).

Thank you for taking your time and I hope to see more from you pretty soon. Do you have anything more to add?

- If your readers are curious about my work then they can watch most of my movies over at FilmBizarroProductions.com for free. All I ask is that people give them honest ratings on IMDb afterwards. Hopefully I can put out a blu-ray eventually with the majority of them (maybe even the ones that were shot on a shitty camcorder).

/Ronny Carlsson

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