The Making of MARIANNE

Welcome to the blog about the making of the 2011 independent horror film MARIANNE.

Me, Mom, Dad, my Sister
The whole family. Me, Mom, Dad, my Sister and the Chevy.
4th grade
Mom before she got sick
Mom and her new guy Kjell
Me, on Little Lake, where we filmed MARIANNE

I think being driven to tell stories is one of the most important things in the world.

That may sound like hyperbole, but here’s how I see it:
When someone is traumatized by an event, that person will experience that feeling over and over again. It comes back, like an echo.
Some people, when they’re hurt, they deal with it by directing the same misery on others. In turn, they will carry the hurt on to other people, and it kind of spreads like ripples.
You don’t see this kind of behaviour when someone has a positive experience. It’s not as natural to pay it forward.
Then there’s the third way of dealing with it: You tell a story about it to other people so they will understand your pain but without being traumatized themselves.

This can be a very positive thing. It helps spread empathy.
So yeah it might sound like hyperbole, but I think if more people told stories instead of take out their own misery on others, we’d have a more pleasant society.

Going back now, to where I was in 2005 when LET THE RIGHT ONE IN was passed along at the production office I worked in Stockholm.

By this time I had written three feature film screenplays already. I’d just finished up a superhero script and this idea for a kitchen sink realist horror film about sleep paralysis that took place in Östersund where I grew up was nagging at me to be written.

I had ideas for a story. I wanted it to be about a family man who is haunted by a woman who he had been linked to, and the guilt would be the thing that actually caused the haunting.

I called the story MARIANNE, because the Swedish word for the Mare (the monster in this horror story) is Maran.


Also I kind of liked the idea of a woman’s name as a title. There are some great film titles like that.

Well, I like it.

Then one day in August or September, I got a call from mom.

At this time, we didn’t have a very good relationship. I mean, we talked, but there were a lot of unresolved issues.

Just basic stupid meaningless stuff that make family not talk.

Anyway, she was living up in Östersund with a man called Kjell who moved in when I moved away from home four or five years earlier. I still went up and visited them, but I’d only slept one night in the house where I grew up since moving away, because he didn’t want me to when I went up to visit them and she didn’t want to upset him.
I didn’t come up often, because it was 650km from Stockholm and even longer from Gothenburg, and I had to arrange staying at a friend’s house whenever I went up.

So when she called me and said she’d finally gotten a diagnosis for having coughed for two years, I honestly didn’t know she had been coughing at all.

Nobody had told me, and I hadn’t noticed.

Östersund is such a small place, with only 50,000 people, and getting good medical attention there is just difficult. There are also no neighbouring towns, the closest one is a two hour drive away, and it’s not that much bigger.

We get a lot of credit in Sweden for our health care system, and it’s very cheap to see a doctor and get an examination.
But the doctor my mom had seen at the only hospital in town had taken two years to discover she had lung cancer because the correct tests had been too expensive and he’d just given her an option that was cheaper for the hospital.

Mom who always hated cigarette smoke. She couldn’t stand people smoking around her, and to my knowledge she never smoked herself. She lived healthy. She got enough exercise and I can’t remember seeing her intoxicated when growing up. We never even had wine at home.

The problem with being diagnosed with an extremely rare type of cancer is that there’s no way to know how to treat it. There are not enough cases to study. It’s trial and error, because different people respond differently to the treatments.

I have to really give props to Kjell for carrying her through three years of chemo. Three years she was on that stuff in different forms.
He drove her 600km to Uppsala, north of Stockholm, to get treated. He’s the one that literally pushed the doctors up against the wall until they helped mom.

When she called me in January 2008 and told me it’s time I come up, I was coming out of a really bad case of pneumonia. I’d just returned from an extended trip to Austin and Los Angeles, and had missed a lot of work at the cinema I’d started working at when I couldn’t get any more TV jobs.

It wasn’t a job that payed very well. I probably had 11,000 SEK (1,650 USD) after tax left every month and living expenses were high even though I was subletting a room in someone’s basement.

I mention this because it’ll be important soon. Basically, I was living off my ever diminishing assets. The investments I had inherited from dad when he died.

Between the time my mom called me in 2005 and told me about the diagnosis and the time she called me in 2008 and said it was time for me to come up and see her one last time, our relationship had become stronger. We hadn’t really worked through much of the issues, instead the issues had just gone away by themselves.

My sister, who had an even more complicated relationship with mom, and who couldn’t even be in the same room as Kjell, hadn’t worked much out at all. She did well financially, with a steady well paying job. Between her and her boyfriend, they had an income four times what mine was.

The problems started when me, my sister and Kjell went to visit mom at the hospital in January, they started fighting, leaving me in the middle. My sister threw a fit, shouting at Kjell to go to hell in front of mom, and ran off.
She went back home to Gothenburg to work, leaving me for three weeks playing peace keeper between her and Kjell on the phone, and picking up what was left of my family while at the same time losing what little income I had. It also nearly cost me my job.

I spent those three weeks, living in a basement because Kjell wouldn’t let me stay at the house. He and my sister also wouldn’t talk directly to eachother, and I couldn’t get either of them to bury the hatchett long enough for mom to pass away in peace.
I had to bargain with Kjell even to see her at the hospital, and I couldn’t march in there because I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of mom at that point the way my sister already had.

It was a truly fucked up situation.

I got a lot of help and support from my mom’s sister Gunilla, who also came up and stayed with me. She’s always been a rock, and without her I don’t know what I would have done.

Mom passed away in peace, surrounded by her closest friends, me, Kjell and Gunilla. My sister was with us on the phone. Kjell said something inappropriate. Mom was on that strong morphine stuff they give people when they fade away, when she passed.
I told her I loved her, and I know she could hear me because she smiled right then, in the corner of her mouth.
She was 65, and much too young.

The aftermath of all this was a lot of bitterness and resentment.

Kjell had told me earlier at one time when I visited him and mom that because he’s living in the house and was renovating it, he had legal rights too.

Me and my sister wanted to sort things out with the paperwork, the funeral and the house, which belonged to us, but Kjell gave us an ultimatum. Either he’d fix everything, or he’d leave.

So we told him to hit the road, and he did.

But by this time, my economy was so bad I had no choice but to return to Stockholm and work. Gunilla and my sister went up to the house and sorted through all the stuff, including everything I might have wanted to keep, and took all the decisions about it.
I had wanted nothing more but to be there and finally say goodbye to the house I grew up in, but that just wasn’t possible.

All my old stuff were either thrown away or maybe my sister kept it, I don’t know. If she did, she never told me.

I miss my old stuff, and I miss not having been allowed to say goodbye to the house.

Mom told me before she passed that she wanted a very small funeral. No friends, only the closest relatives. I agreed, and told her I would set up a separate wake for everyone else, which I did.

A lot of people came for that, from all over Scandinavia. My mom was a very loved person.
Kjell did everything to try and control the funeral. We kept it to my mom’s wishes because she had told me that in private and i respected that, but in the end, Kjell didn’t even show up for her funeral.

He did call me though and said he was sending someone to video tape it, but I told him to fuck off and that nobody was video taping nothing.
So in the end, he missed it.

Kjell and mom were convinced my grandfather haunted their house after he passed away in 2003. He never liked mom. Dad died in 1980 from a plane crash, and mom raised me and my sister by herself. My grandfather, who had already lost his two year old daugher in 1952, coudn’t handle losing his son as well. He was already pretty crazy, but that made it even worse. He never got along with mom, and hated that she had met Kjell 20 years after dad had died.

So mom and Kjell once told me Kjell sometimes woke up paralysed feeling like someone was watching them in their bedroom, but if mom touched him, the paralysis stopped. They said maybe it was my grandfather.

Obviously this whole story influenced MARIANNE greatly.

Pretty much a year after mom passed away, maybe even exactly on the day, I spoke to the Mid Nordic Film Commission on the phone.

I had just moved back to Gothenburg, and had started working at a cinema there instead. Unfortunately I couldn’t get enough hours and my nest egg was diminishing even more rapidly. I used the money I inherited from mom, and what I got when the house was sold, to pay for food and rent because I couldn’t get enough work to pay the bills.

It was just a situation where I could either make my film right then, and spend the money on that, or spend it slowly on staying alive.

So I said fuck it.

I dropped everything in my life then. I quit my job, and started writing.

- Filip Tegstedt

Where Can I Buy MARIANNE on DVD? Rate MARIANNE on IMDb! Join MARIANNE on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Find us on Vimeo! Find us on YouTube!

Click the banner below to see MARIANNE right now in the UK!
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Me, on the set of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

This is an old photo of me, back in 2004, around the time I started working on the idea for MARIANNE.

The idea for MARIANNE first came to me some time late 2003 - early 2004, when I was in film school studying to become a screenwriter.

I’ve always been a big fan of horror films. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I’ve seen all the negative effects of the video nasty craze. Horror movies were censored beyond recognition here in Sweden, so in the rare instances you could get hold of an uncensored VHS tape of a film, you would see some pretty unusual stuff.

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 1 were rare exceptions because they were released completely uncut. Rumors back then had it that whoever was in charge that day was home sick one day and let his or her teenage kid fill in at work. The kid would pass horror films through the censorship system uncut.

That’s probably not true, but a fun rumor nonetheless.

For those not familiar with the video nasty thing, or at least what happened in Sweden, It’s all about what happens when moral panic breaks out and goes wrong.

In the early 80’s, a Swedish TV program called Studio S created panic by hyperboling the effect of violence in horror films on kids, and interviewed some children about the nightmares they got from watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. This led to parental protests, banning and heavy censorship of films, and a very negative view on horror films in general. Banning and censorship of film wasn’t lifted until the mid 90’s in Sweden,

It’s later been discovered that the producers of Studio S made the children lie. They hadn’t even seen the horror films.

But a lot of films were banned for 15-20 years, and while nothing is censored in film today in Sweden, the public opinion that horror is “bad" and anything in that genre is morally wrong, lives on in the eyes of many people.

That’s a major shame, because horror films let people confront their fears in a very safe environment. It’s healthy to watch horror films (for adults, of course. I don’t recommend it to children!)

Because of all this, there are not a lot of Swedish horror films around. Even established filmmakers have expressed difficulty in recieving funding for horror films. Independent filmmakers do make horror films, and that’s great, but it would be good for the genre if some higher profile films were made, like in Norway and Denmark.

I think the problem with a lot of the ones that are made, is the mimicking of American horror films in terms of style and tone. We have a very specific style of filmmaking in Sweden that works well with our culture, how we see ourselves, and how we speak. It’s a kitchen sink realism style that’s a little bit TV drama, a little bit stage and a little bit indie.
It’s a style that’s brutal and honest and direct, but whenever someone makes a horror film here, they forget about that and try to mimic foreign cinematic styles.

There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it does distance the viewer. It becomes less personal, less about the characters inner emotional core, and that’s the exact opposite way you should go when trying to be scary.

The way filmmaking works is, you have a protagonist, a main character. By establishing the character’s need early on, you set up an emotional bond between the protagonist and the viewers, so when the protagonist goes through an emotion, so do the viewers.

In horror this is bond is key, because unlike with for instance comedy, a horror viewer will actively fight the emotions you try to instill. The viewer will try to not become afraid by disassociation. This is also why some people laugh at horror films. It’s a defense mechanism so they don’t have to bond with the protagonist’s emotions.

This is a constant struggle between the filmmaker and the viewer, and it’s why character focus is both more difficult and more important in horror than anything else. It’s why “suitable" cinematography is more important than “good looking" cinematography.

If Michael Bay had directed THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, it would have looked amazing, but it wouldn’t have been scary.

So, my idea for MARIANNE was to make a very Swedish horror film. Something that went along the visual styles of Swedish indie dramas, which can be made on a low budget. Something with character in focus, and something personal.

You know when you wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t move, and it feels like someone is in the room, looking at you?

Henry Fusali's \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"The Nightmare\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"

This is a very common phenomenon. It’s called Sleep Paralysis, and it’s about the scariest thing imagineable.

When you fall asleep, your body becomes paralysed so you don’t hurt yourself by running around when you’re asleep. Sometimes we wake up before the paralysis goes away, and with that state of paralysed half wake / half dream comes a serious sense of dread.

It’s the same feeling as when you’re so afraid you can’t move except it comes from the other direction; you can’t move so you’re afraid.
But it feels exactly like being so afraid you can’t move.
Combined with half a foot still in Dreamland, it’s a very supernatural experience.

This phenomenon has given birth to many folklore and religious explainations in many cultures. The succubus or the incubus, for example. Even a very common alien abduction story is “I was lying in my bed sleeping when the aliens came into my bedroom. I was awake but I couldn’t move and I was terrified".

The idea of a victim paralysed in bed when the monster comes is an idea that’s been used in countless horror texts, from the DRACULA novel by Bram Stoker to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

Max Schreck as Nosferatu in FW Murnau's \\"Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens\\"

In Sweden, the folklore explainaton to Sleep Paralysis was a creature called The Mare ("Maran", in Swedish).

The Mare was a cursed woman, whose body would shapeshift to green smoke and she would reappear in men’s bedrooms. Sitting on their chests, she would give them awful nightmares, without realizing this was happening to her.
Some stories speak of men who manage to wake the mare up by saying her name and break the spell put on her. Other stories tell of men who manage to wake up and plug the hole in the wall she came in through, trapping the mare.

It’s just one of those very interesting folklore creatures we have in Scandinavia that had never been put on film but has great potential for a story, I figured. Belief in folklore is slowly diminishing too, even in the Northlands. It’s not what it was when I grew up.

With the great looking and in film underused scenery surrounding my hometown, inspired by the tales of folklore, the idea was to make MARIANNE a contemporary horror film that dealt with both the supernatural stories of folklore creatures that invade people’s bedrooms to give them nightmares, as well as the psychological and medical aspects of the phenomenon behind those stories.

It’s a film about sleeping and dreaming, so it should also have the aspect of the waking.

In order to make the film accessable to anyone who doesn’t know what a Mare is, I did a lot of research, and then changed a lot of things around to make it about a haunting. Anyone know what a ghost story is, and people can relate to that.

What set this ghost story apart was that it was an internal haunting instead of an external one. It’s not someone dying and coming back from the dead, it’s a man who does something bad and his guilt creates anxiety attacks and sends him spiraling downwards into psychosis as he experience sleep paralysis as visitations from a woman.

This was the basic idea behind MARIANNE.

Then, as I was working as a production assistant on a TV show in Stockholm as part of my film school internship program, someone was passing along copies of a new book that had been released. A Swedish kitchen sink realist horror novel by a new author that everyone was raving about.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

- Filip Tegstedt

Where Can I Buy MARIANNE on DVD? Rate MARIANNE on IMDb! Join MARIANNE on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Find us on Vimeo! Find us on YouTube!

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chapter 2 filip skriver

Alright, so having dispensed with the official meet and greet post, here I am.

My name is Filip, I’m an independent filmmaker currently living in Sweden, where I’m from. I made a feature film called MARIANNE, and this tumblr is the story of how that happened.

First though, before I start going into detail about making the film, you should know a bunch of personal things about me. Where I am today, and where I’m from, basically.

It’s highly relevant to how the film was made, but reading stuff like that can be pretty boring so I’ll try to keep it as short, relevant and to the point as possible.

In the meantime, please bear with me.

Today I’m living in the very south of Sweden, in a city called Malmö.
I’ve lived here for almost a year and a half now, and it’s a great place.
I have a lovely fiancé, and life is good.

My personal economy however, is not good.

I hesitate to say this, because being a filmmaker is a lot about keeping up appearances, but I mention it because it’s relevant.

It’s a very common misconception by people who are not filmmakers that this industry is about glamour and that people who do this make a lot of money and yes, some people do.

Most people I know however have it really tough.
I haven’t actually picked up a steady paycheck in almost a year, and it’s hard to even get called to an interview.
Usually when I get called to a job interview, I end up getting the job, but getting an interview, that’s the hard part.

I will talk more about this in a later post though.

Going back to the beginning now, I’ve been a big lover of film since forever. I love the storytelling of it. Going to the movies is the modern equivalent to gathering around the fire to listen to the tribe storyteller. That’s what it’s always been about for me.

I grew up in a small isolated town in the center of Sweden called Östersund. The top two thirds of Sweden are referred to as the Northlands, so it’s part of that.

Östersund is a very special place in a lot of ways.
There are around 50,000 people living there, and the nearest town is about two hours away by car.
It’s located on a deep lake where a loch ness type sea serpent is said to live. The scenery is very picturesque, with lots of snowy mountains, lakes and pine trees. In the wintertime it gets to -40 degrees (both C and F, as the scales meet there) and the summers are cold and rainy. Wintertime, there’s a lot of northern lights, summertime it doesn’t get dark at night, ever.
There’s very little crime, and people don’t lock their doors when they’re home.

So I grew up with my mom and my sister in a very safe place. Dad passed away when I was very young, leaving me with an old blue Chevrolet hotrod from 1936 that he built in the 60’s and some money in the bank.

Growing up under those circumstances was, in a lot of ways, magical.
I was very fortunate.

I’ve loved movies since I was five years old. It’s just always been a big part of me. STAR WARS, E.T., GREMLINS, THE KARATE KID and SUPERMAN THE MOVIE taught me about magic and what it would have meant to have a dad. PSYCHO taught me about fear when I was seven. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and GHOSTBUSTERS taught me that fear can be thrilling too. WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? gave me an insight into how filmmaking worked, with the endless making of-featurettes that played on cable.

I was hooked.

When I became a teenager, I rarely studied in school. Instead I just watched movies. That’s how I learnt to speak English.

After high school, in 1999, I helped a friend out making an amateur ninja film that was actually never finished. Because I had trained martial arts, I did the fight choreography and played a badguy. It was fun.
This was the point I discovered making movies was something I could actually be doing.

So I moved south, to Gothenburg, and went to film school between 2003 and 2005. I wanted to become a writer/director, so I studied screenwriting to learn the basics of telling a story.
I did a short four-week internship on the Tim Burton film CORPSE BRIDE, and some TV-shows in Stockholm as Production Assistant before graduating, but it didn’t lead to any more work.

Nobody hired production assistants, and that’s not what my “thing" was anyway. I wanted to write and direct.

But I stayed in Stockholm, and in 2007 I got a job at a cinema, selling tickets first and then as projectionist, while shooting a six part mocumentary webTV-series that I posted on MySpace. Nobody really watched it, but it was a good experience working with a bigger crew.
In total it was about 90 minutes, so I had basically shot a feature film for 10,000SEK (1,500 USD).

I started writing some movie reviews and I kept writing on what would become my feature film debut: MARIANNE.

In January 2009, I moved back to Gothenburg and while covering the Gothenburg film festival for Ain’t It Cool News, I found a business card in one of the festival tents from the Mid Nordic Film Commission, which apparently was located in Östersund of all places!

I called them up, pitched the idea, and they wanted to read the screenplay.

That was my big chance to make my feature film debut.

- Filip Tegstedt

Where Can I Buy MARIANNE on DVD? Rate MARIANNE on IMDb! Join MARIANNE on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Find us on Vimeo! Find us on YouTube!

Click the banner below to see MARIANNE right now in the UK!
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MARIANNE as released on DVD by Njutafilms in Sweden

Welcome to the Making of MARIANNE blog.

This is the Official tumblr for the Swedish independent horror film MARIANNE.
In here, you will find detailed information about how the film was created, as well as never-before published behind-the-scenes photos, information about scenes that never made it into the final cut, and screenshots from them.
There will be anecdotes about getting the film made and about thoughts, ideas and inspirations for the story.

This page is owned and maintained by Filip Tegstedt (that’s me). I’m the writer, director and producer on MARIANNE as well as CEO of Jämtfilm AB.

I will try to update this site as often as I can, I at least have a lot of material ready for it. I’m hoping it’ll shed some light on how independent filmmaking works, and doesn’t work. Maybe someone can learn from my mistakes. Maybe someone who isn’t ready to make a feature length film will save themselves a lot of time and a small fortune by putting them off the idea, or at least help them prepare better for what’s to come.

Maybe someone will even be inspired somehow.

I don’t know.

Feel free to contact me though. Also, become a fan on our facebook page for the latest news as they develop:
You’ll also find a lot of great stuff on twitter:

@Jamtfilm has a lot of great links to interviews, reviews and articles.

@TheNorthlander is my personal. Feel free to say hi.

@IAmMyOwn_Movie is Johan Bergqvist’s twitter. He’s my colleague in Jämtfilm and has just finished his own feature film debut; I AM MY OWN.
Keep a lookout for that one and follow him too.

That’s it for tumblr introduction I think.
Thank you for checking out this site.

- Filip Tegstedt

Where Can I Buy MARIANNE on DVD? Rate MARIANNE on IMDb! Join MARIANNE on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Find us on Vimeo! Find us on YouTube!

Click the banner below to see MARIANNE right now in the UK!

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