Interview with Elfar Adalsteins

Elfar Adalsteins is the writer/director of the amazing short film “Sailcloth”, which stars John Hurt.  Elfar was able to tell an amazing story through this short without any dialogue.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Elfar to chat about the short and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about the origin of the short “Sailcloth”?
Elfar Adalsteins: The idea presented itself couple of years after my grandfather passed away and revolved around the bedsheets transforming into the sail that allow the old man to go on a last great journey. I guess it you can say it’s my farewell vignette to him.

MG: How did John Hurt become on board?
EA: I simply sent his agent the script with a personalized note to John stating why I thought he would be perfect for the role. A week later his agent called and told me John wanted to meet to discuss the script. That was surprising and scary in equal measures but that soon passed after meeting him as I could feel we were on the same page. After talking things through John said “Elfar, let’s go make a film” and we did.

MG: The short is wordless, yet it says so much, tell us about that?
EA: There wasn’t any need. The Man wants to go unnoticed, to vanish without a trace. The only bump in his road is when he sees the young boy on the beach. But he swallows hard and keeps going. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the film, so wonderfully portrayed by John and my son.

MG: Tell us about the wonderful score in the short?
It was written by Richard Cottle, a close friend of mine who I had worked with on numerous occasions. He was on board from the offset and as soon as the rough cut was ready we began testing things out. I wanted an accordion, double bass and cello, which was our starting point. Richard plays dozens of instruments and played the piano on the soundtrack along with masterfully conducting the string section. He was pure joy to work with.

MG: Where you involved with the cinematography in the film?
EA: The relationship between the director and DP is probably the closest on set. I had story-boarded the script so Karl had a good idea of what we were aiming for. He has a great eye and offered up some interesting angles. Shooting is like everything else in filmmaking, it’s a collaborative exercise.

MG: How long did short take to complete from script to finished product?
EA: It was a good six months, mainly because there was a couple month delay before I got an editor. The editing process was quite arduous for such a short film, because the scenes on the ocean were hard to assemble. But after a few sleepless nights we eventually got there.

MG: Was the short a success during its festival tour?
EA: Rhode Island International Film Festival put us on the map by awarding us with the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short. That automatically qualified us for the Short Film Oscar where we progressed to the last ten, or the Oscar Shortlist. Unfortunately we didn’t make the final nominations, so no tuxedo this year. We also got a Cinematic Achievement Award at the Thessaloniki Short Film Festival, so I’m really pleased with how well the film has done.

MG: We have had inquires of where people can see “Sailcloth”, any plans of releasing?
EA: It will be distributed for TV to begin with, then released as a download on iTunes or similar in a year’s time. I’m happy to hear that people have been asking for it. Hopefully it will secure us a few downloads next year.

What do you have planned next? Any features?
I’m finalising my first feature script that I’m attached to direct, backed by a US based prodction company. It’s still early days so I don’t want to say to much… I’ve probably jinxed it already.

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