By Valdimar Jóhannsson
Lamb director Valdimar Jóhannsson's joyous and difficult journey making the film of his dreams
On my recent travels with my first feature film Lamb, I have been asked many questions that I had no answers to. It has made me very happy to hear the different and inspiring interpretations from both audiences and journalists.
It is hard to say where ideas come from, they are all around, everywhere and always. After the film premiered in my home country Iceland, my mother brought me a diary that I had written at the age of 18. In it, I had documented my dreams, and in one of the dreams there are huge rams roaming around in fields. This is something I had completely forgotten about, but they still ended up in María’s dream in the film twenty-plus years later.
When I started working on the film, me, my co-writer Sjón and producers made a promise to always stay true to the story and the film we set out to do. From the beginning I wanted to make a film that I wanted to see, one that I had not seen before.
I directed two short films before Lamb, and have been active in the film industry for about 20 years as a crew member in all different departments: art, SFX, lighting, animal wrangling and more. So when I made Lamb, I knew the crew very well from my days on set with them, standing in rain storms for many hours or spending days in the dusty highlands filming big studio films. One of those films, Prometheus, was where I first saw Noomi Rapace. I picked up a part of her shoe that broke off while she was filming. I gave it back to her while shooting Lamb. She had not missed it and did not remember me.
I‘ve always considered Lamb a family drama with one surreal element. It was also made by a family of film professionals — my wife Hrönn and her daughter Sara produced the film, my son in-law Eli shot the film, my daughter Sigrún was the production coordinator, my youngest daughter Elsa was the chef‘s assistant, my brother Helgi was one of the animal trainers and the art director is my best childhood friend. I sometimes thought about the absurdity of this but in the end I couldn‘t be more happy to have had the people that I love and trust the most, surrounding me during the difficult yet joyous journey of making Lamb.