Jesper Ganslandt is a Swedish director who started his career doing short films until his feature film directorial debut in 2006 with Falkenberg Farewell. While primarily known for his films in his native Sweden, he makes his international debut with the thriller Beast of Burden, starring Daniel Radcliffe. The film comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 23 from Momentum Pictures.
World Film Geek had the opportunity to speak with Ganslandt about the film.
Thank you Jesper for talking about Beast of Burden. It was a great thriller that brings a lot of tension on the lead character’s part.
Thank you so much. That was the intention of the film.
So you’re known primarily for your work in your native Sweden. How did you get involved in filmmaking?
Well, I started doing kind of horror stuff when I was fairly young. In the age of home video cameras in filmmaking. I kind of went with that from point. I never went to film school, but I began working in TV and writing and doing music videos, evolving into short films and features. I’ve had some really fortunate experiences with film festivals. That made me travel to the U.S. and begin to explore and establish something in terms of an English language project.
That’s great. Well, this film is your international debut as a director. What attracted you to direct this film?
Well, as you mentioned, it had a lot of pressure and intensity towards the central character. I made a Swedish movie called The Ape which had similar elements. It was about a man who wakes up bloody one morning in his home and goes about his normal day. And you know something isn’t right so the anxiety and pressure starts to build up. I thought this was an interesting way to continue on that path, but more through a Hollywood looking glass if you will.
And I guess the combination of Daniel Radcliffe and this unexpected leading man in that and with that story. That was one of the motivations for me.
It is great to see Daniel Radcliffe continue his post-Harry Potter career and this is by far, one of his best roles as a very conflicted man. What was it like working with him on the set and what did he bring to the table?
Yeah me too! (Laughs). That’s great. He’s really fantastic and I got to discover how committed he is and how hard working he is. And I don’t think we could do this film without that commitment. Even though I thought his performance was great in the last two Harry Potter films, it’s also been really interesting to watch him go into another phase of acting within his craft and his life. And this was a great opportunity to be able to work with him and focus on the performance for this film.
The film also features Grace Gummer and Pablo Schreiber, although it’s clear this film does belong to Radcliffe. What was it like working with Gummer and Schreiber?
I love the both of them. I think they’re really great. We spent a long time casting for those two roles. I’ve also watched Grace and Pablo in other projects and I was glad to have them in the movie. They are great. They added so much. Grace, for example, was very committed and did the off-screen dialogue for the airplane scenes for a number of days without even appearing on camera. We were able to do longer takes and thanks to that, they came out great and gave an enormous presence.
Pablo was only there for a few days with his scenes, but he was very committed to the part as well. He was taking it very seriously and that’s who he is. It was all great to have and it was a very interesting cast to work with.
The film features mostly Radcliffe on the plane juggling all these phone conversations. Was that your idea to focus primarily on the film in that aspect or was that actually how it was written?
There were different approaches with different drafts of the script which focused more on Sean and the plane. There were versions where we cut away more from him that we did in the film. I was coming from the starting point where I wanted it to be subjective and with this one main character and then we can have these incidents and interesting scenes with other characters but it would be based on what he would hear and know in the air. I always thought that would be the way to go. That we would stick with him and see who is calling and not give away too much. Bring something that is compelling.
Finally, what will you be working on next?
I’m releasing a Swedish film in April called Jimmie, and it’s different in many ways but it’s similar to that it focuses on one character. This one is a 4-year old boy who experiences something and we see the events through his eyes and on his level. Him and his dad must leave home to go to a safer place because it’s no longer safe where they are. And we see this from the child’s point of view and it’s different. It’s a different outlook of things but there’s that similarity where he needs to figure out what to do to move forward. I’m gonna release that in April and then I’ll be checking out what will be next.
Beast of Burden comes to theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on February 23. Fans who want to see a good post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe film will enjoy this one especially with your approach to the film. Thank you again Jesper for talking about the film.
Thank you and I am glad you like the film.
A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Jesper Ganslandt for making this interview possible.