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Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and your routes into directing? 

Martin Norgaard Furze: I work as a director and art director after attending the Danish School of Media and Journalism and Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London. My mom is a film director so I grew up in a very visual world where film was a natural language and because of that I have always expressed myself visually.

I saw Kurosawa, Ford and Hitchcock from a very young age; something that probably also sparked my way into becoming an art director. The desire to want to tell stories and influence change through creativity has always fascinated me. I’m a firm believer that creativity can solve any problem.

We spent a week or so reading through what can only be described as gut-wrenching and utterly disgusting displays of human behaviour.

Mette Carla: I work as a director and creative writer with a background as an art director, after studying at the Danish school of media and journalism. After that I attended the National Film School of Denmark and graduated as a documentary director. The last couple of years I have also been focussing on advertising and fiction short films. I have a strong visual profile as well as conceptual approach and often engage in portraying difficult and taboo subjects revolving around feminism and sexuality.

NEWLIVES – The Voiceless Women

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How did you come to be directing together? 

MNF: It was actually the production company that set us up. Being a creative I always come up with new concepts and ideas, and this time I had this idea about making a film where trafficked women weren’t able to speak for themselves and men were talking as they were miming the words.

We found links that led to this closed off forum on the dark web. I tried to get access and was screened by two administrators and was asked a lot of questions that were extremely crazy.

I was working as a freelance art director at production company U Itch I Scratch, [who now rep Carla for commercials] so I thought I’d pitch the idea to them. Luckily they got it and saw the potential, but also realised that it would be a pro bono effort from everyone involved and rather that me directing solo we decided that it was better to make it a team effort and have me team up with one of their directors. 

Mette had already been directing the documentary Venus and felt strongly about women's causes, so it was a natural fit. Luckily we clicked and from there we started researching.

Above: Mette Carla and Martin Norgaard Furze. co-directors of the Voiceless Women spot.


Where did the concept for using online reviews for sex workers come from?

MNF: Actually, the film started as fiction. It featured three different women lip synching a customer's experience with a sex worker. Having discussed the communication and wanting to make it more real and not scripted we were toying with the concept of having real clients being interviewed.

We had a collection that painted an overall image of these men and their view of these women as commodities, and their complete disregard for their humanity.

During a long research process we found links that led to this closed off forum on the dark web. I tried to get access and was screened by two administrators and was asked a lot of questions that were extremely crazy, and questioned numerous times before finally being granted access.

How difficult, mentally, was the research process for that? 

MNF: Immediately after I got in the forum I trawled through, grabbing 30 or so reviews that I shared with Mette, and from there she had access and we spent a week or so reading through what can only be described as gut-wrenching and utterly disgusting displays of human behaviour. 

The final piece of the puzzle was using the real usernames at the end of each review. Complete with the same outdated emojis still being used on the dark web and in obscure chat forums.

Finally, we had a collection that painted an overall image of these men and their view of these women as commodities, and their complete disregard for their humanity. We also saw that these were men from all walks of life, educated and non-educated. From the bus driver and bartender up to the doctor and lawyer. This not only is a sad view on humans but also damaging to the general view of women as a whole. How these people can view one woman as a completely disposable shell, and then go home to their girlfriend, mother or sister is very upsetting.

Some of the imagery in the film is as visually striking as the words are haunting; can you tell us a bit about why you made those decisions? 

The contrast of emotionless faces being used as a tool to speak, combined with flashes of the what transpired seen through a nightmarish lens, gelled into a haunting whole, where no one element seemed overpowering and never theatrical or fake.

We had an amazing editor Andreas Krog, who was the wizard of timing the mouths with the voices.

Some images stand out such as a huge pile of female bodies to symbolise the lack of human empathy, that these clients share of the women they buy for pleasure. Disposable, single-use shells, and a womb-like image, crafted to be a scary and a safe place at the same time. The challenge was to make it beautiful, peaceful, lonely and painful.

The final piece of the puzzle was using the real usernames at the end of each review. Complete with the same outdated emojis still being used on the dark web and in obscure chat forums. All these components had you following breadcrumbs throughout the stories while being sucked through the narrative in an almost rollercoaster ride, albeit a very spine chilling one.

What was the biggest challenge in shooting the film?  

MNF: Basically wanting to create something visually and narratively striking with a very small budget of £2,000. This meant wearing many hats ourselves, being very hands-on with everything from scouting, casting, VFX, sound, music and editing. The miming timing of the lips is tough on any actor, but the girls were all super talented, and knew the reviews by heart.

Luckily we got very talented and recognised people to work on it, including Jacob Møller, an extremely gifted DOP, and Hannibal Lang from Bacon X, one of the best colourists in Denmark. Plus we had an amazing editor Andreas Krog, who was the wizard of timing the mouths with the voices. Along with music from electronic duo M€RCY.

Without these forces and many more, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the result we did. So, indeed this is a collective effort of talent coming together not only for a good cause, but to ultimately save lives. Also a massive thanks to U Itch I Scratch for believing in this crazy project.

I thoroughly believe that concept and idea has to be at the forefront of any good film.

What does it mean to win a Young Director Award?

MNF: I mean this is the most important and ultimate stamp of approval for up-and-coming young directors hoping to break through both as a commercial director and also as a fiction film director.

The honour and appreciation can not be overstated, we feel humbled by the opportunity given to us by the entire YDA jury and François Chilot for his hard work in getting the YDA to where it is today, and of course shots for sponsoring such an event that breeds new directors in our creative industry.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

MC: I’m in development with my second documentary feature film. It’s about human escapism in a classical holiday resort. A film about the tourists who never returned home but decided to stay. Perhaps for love or personal tragedy. It’s shot in the Canary Islands inspired by my own experiences from working as a holiday travel rep in my early 20s. I have a short film I directed and wrote in post sound, called Blanka, it’s a territorial house battle love story between two teenage step siblings. I’m also working on building my commercial reel in an artistic direction.

We are very open to collaborate again in the in the future, but we both have a lot of stuff going on separately at the moment.

MNF: I thoroughly believe that concept and idea has to be at the forefront of any good film. As previously stated I’m a firm believer in creativity can solve any problem. So, most of the stuff I’m working on now has that rule as an offset. Currently I have three commercial films in the works, all with the aim of doing something good with the media and communication. One is about animal extinction, one is for talented inner city youths in London, aspiring to become professional footballers, and one deals with integrating the deaf community into the hearing world in a creative way.

Also I’m doing my first short film. It’s about addiction and in essence a coming of age story, seen from a perspective of someone struggling in every of aspect in life. The twist is the way the film takes a very creatively different and visual way of showing addiction, along with the struggles it entails. It is to be shot in LA, so that will also be a fun challenge. So, I’m very exited to have a bit more time to tell a story, and to flesh out characters. 

I’m a firm believer in creativity can solve any problem.

Will you continue to work as a duo?

MNF: We are very open to collaborate again in the in the future, but we both have a lot of stuff going on separately at the moment, so we are not considering teaming up as a duo as of right now.

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