Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stian Hafstad on "Small Penis"

Where did the idea come from to make Small Penis?

STIAN: It all started with the first scene. I was watching a series where one of the characters was going to an AA-meeting. It suddenly struck me that it would be funny if instead of doing the whole "my name is .. and I'm an alcoholic", he would rather pull down his pants and say "I have a small penis".

At first I did not really believe that it could amount to anything, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea.

First of all because it has a big comedic potential. Secondly because a small penis in my opinion works great as a metaphor for the insecurity I wanted to address with this film. Everyone has a part of their body that they're not satisfied with, and for some this really weakens their quality of living because they worry so much about it. And last but not least because the subject still, in 2009, is quite taboo.

What was the process for writing the script?

STIAN: I made a first draft which in many ways are quite similar to the final product. Then I had some sessions with a tutor who gave some grate advice on how to improve it. 

The biggest problem for me was to choose if I wanted a external or internal conflict, that is when in the film to introduce that the group leader had a normal sized penis. If the main character had found out about it earlier in the film we could have had a bit more drama between the two, and the main character could have threatened to expose the leader to the rest of the group. In my opinion this would add a lot more tension to the film, and a better dramatic structure. However I also liked the idea of the internal conflict, where the main character gradually learns to accept himself as he is. To me this just seemed to work better with the genre, and in my opionion resulted in a funnier film.

How did you create the song for the film? It's very catchy.

STIAN: The song was written by our sound guy, Erlend Myrstad. I told him I wanted a gospel song, and that I wanted to use the groups mantra as basis for the lyrics. So he created this brilliant song that I really love. We know some people who know some people who sing in a choir, so we got them to come and sing it for free. 

If any of your readers by any chance would like to download it, they can do so here for free:

How long did it take you to shoot the film? And how long did it take to edit it?

STIAN: It was shot in 5 days over a 7 day period. We had about 14 days to edit it, but we did not use all of them, because our footage linked up with the storyboard very well. 

What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the film?

STIAN: As I mentioned, the subject is a bit tabooI remember a phone call I had with a potential actor.

Stian: “Hi! My name is Stian Hafstad, and I’m calling from the University of Bergen. We’re making a short film and I was wondering if you would be interested in auditioning for us?

Man: “Yes, sure. I’d love to. I really enjoy acting. What’s the film about?”

Stian: “The film is called Small Penis, and is about a support gr..”


Stian: “Hello? Hello? Are you there?”

So we had many encounters with people who did not like the subject. 

Also, we had to postpone the shoot for one day, and reshoot some scenes, because the guy who played the youth version of the main character punctured a lung in the filming period. But luckily we managed to find a replacement quite quick so we got the shots we needed. And that is why the main character looks so different when he's a teenager and when he's an adult.

Now that you've completed your graduation film, what's next?

STIAN: My bachelor's degree is in film and televison production, but we have only done fiction for the last year. The two years before that focused on documentaries and televison, and media science theory. So I am hoping to get in to a good film school where I can continue developing as a filmmaker and get some more experience. I am also writing on some new scripts, so if I could get funding for one of them, and just skip the film school step, that would be great:)

Small Penis from Espen Hobbesland on Vimeo.

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