Still from A Living Soul, courtesy of H.M. Selder

Still from A Living Soul, courtesy of H.M. Selder

Swedish director Henry Moore Selder -known for his work in music videos, commercials and short films- studied film theory at Stockholm University and practical filmmaking at the Stockholm Film School.

He has made several award winning short films and his 2001 mini-musical Deadly Boring earned him a Guldbagge nomination (Swedish Film Institute Award).

H.M. Selder holding Ypsilon, the unusual protagonist from 'A Living Soul'.

You've been successful in many filmmaking trades like commercials for Nike, Pepsi, Mercedes, music videos for bands like Garbage and fictional award winning shorts. What's your biggest passion, where lies your future ambition?

Henry M. Selder:
My biggest passion is storytelling; trying to visualize and bring my stories -or stories that I care about- to the screen. I also have a penchant for unusual stories and trying to make original work or images that no one has seen before. There are a few of those images in ‘A Living Soul’.

And I want to work more in a longer format; I am developing several feature filmscripts and a TV series as well as continuing my work in commercials, which for me has turned out to be the best film school and provides plenty of opportunity for field experiments in filmmaking.

What's the story behind A Living Soul ? When did you decide to make it?

Henry M. Selder:
The film was commissioned by the Swedish state television and Swedish Film Institute as part of their Novella film project that has been running for more than ten years (every year six directors get a chance to make a 30 minute film).
I have been applying for the program with many projects over the years but this is the first successful attempt.

H.M. Selder and crew submerging the A-Cam dII.

The film itself is based on the novel with the same name by P.C. Jersild, which is as close to a Swedish sci-fi classic as you can get.
I read it the first time when I was in my early teens and while re-reading it last year it dawned on me that it could make an excellent novella film. It was quite a challenge technically so I was very lucky to be able to work with some technicians and special effects companies that I have met through my commercial work over the years.

It was also a challenge, since most of it is shot through water. We did submerge the A-Cam dII for scenes in a flooded laboratory and scenes in the ocean but also used a GoPro for some moving POV¹s.

A submerged self wakes up in a laboratory. Gradually we understand that it’s the subjective perspective of Ypsilon, a human brain being kept alive artificially. With black humour and with focus on the human relations, we follow Ypsilon’s path from mere consciousness to the development of a personality.
Based on P C Jersild’s controversial novel from 1980.

Still from A Living Soul, courtesy of H.M. Selder

What underwater housing did you use?

Henry M. Selder:
We used an old home made underwater housing that was more like an aquarium-rig with a lid (not for full submerging). I really love the look of the underwater shots; they came out very expressive and colourful.

Why on the A-Cam dII?

Henry M. Selder:
I bought it both to make my own projects and also to use as a second or third camera on commercials. I liked the idea of a professional camera being able to use 16mm lenses that was quite affordable, so I could get my own kit.

DP: Gustav Danielsson

I think it has a very special look and works in an interesting way with colour even if it can also be a bit unruly in the grading room.

A Living Soul (En Levande Själ)


Behind-the-scenes by Igor Zimmermann.