New perspectives on creators and filmmakers

Narrating against the backdrop of the city

A city without culture is a machine: practical and rational, it meets direct, quantifiable needs, but all this ‘how’ rings hollow without a ‘why?’ Creators need to be given a crucial role in shaping culturally sustainable urban environments. This brings new opportunities through creating a need for new skills for those working with film and moving images.

“With the help of film archives, I want to bring to light the historical strata of a society—but with the help of a city’s space to make the history of film art easily accessible.”

Clara Gustavsson is an artist and film history buff working with variety arts and entertainment history. Through Smart Kreative Stad, Clara has on two occasions invited residents, tourists and visitors to Stockholm to share in our film historical heritage in the popup cinema Play and Pause.

Reflections from the Ongoing Evaluator on conversation 3:
New perspectives on creators and filmmakers


Smart Creative City aims to investigate how film and moving images can contribute to a more attractive city for residents, visitors and creators. Against the backdrop of the city, a broader creative space can change the traditional role of the filmmaker. In a conversation about some new perspectives on creators and filmmakers, representatives from various fields met to discuss the power of film in urban space—about the visions and needs of creators, and who might further cultural diversity in the public space.

Participants in the conversation on 21 February:
Anna Waernborg Light Designer at Light Bureau, AFRY
Christian Gabel Musician and Composer
Emma Sahlgren Coordinator, Film Capital Stockholm
Estella Burga Artist, Producer and Pedagogue at Lava, Stockholm House of Culture & City Theatre. Cofounder of the artist collective IDA—Institute for Diaspora and Decolonization
Ivana Lalovic Consultant in short and documentary film, Film Stockholm/ Filmbasen
Jennifer Norström Project Manager, Smart Kreativ Stad
Karin Gille Scenographer, Property Master and Producer
Lena Essling Exhibition Curator, Moderna Museet
Mia Uddgren Film Commissioner, Film Capital Stockholm
Nazem Tahvilzadeh Researcher in Urban and Regional Studies, KTH
Rozbeh Behtaji Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Founder and Artistic Director of Göthenburgo
Tinna Joné Associate Professor of Documentary Narrative, StDH

Introduction: Annika Wik
Moderator: Roger Mogert

Attractive city—for whom?
The conversation began with a problematization of attractiveness as a goal. Based on structural problems and on criticism of non-democratic processes, a risk was identified that decision-makers have the power to tailor development to their own values—and that this happens more or less (un)consciously. Involving citizens in the design of their city shapes the roles of creator and spectator. In other words, when we talk about making the city more attractive, we need to be clear—for whom?

Self-organization and financial resources
Financial resources were discussed as a condition for the field to flourish and for creative initiatives to emerge. Artistic self-organization and assuming positions of power make space for creative freedom. Only in collaboration can the creative and physical maps be redrawn. Opening up cultural spaces can shape new flows in the city. Several examples were shared in the course of  this conversation.

The creators’ need for space
The conversation ascertained that both professional creators and creative residents need space to practice in the right environment. New cinematic expressions and formats do not come into being without creating the space to try them out. Just as graffiti has emerged through the practice of painting on facades, filmmakers need to investigate how film works in urban spaces. At risk is the attempt turning out to be a predefined form, such as a screen in the public space. For opportunities to extend the screening of moving images, we must think further—to the spaces between the buildings. There is a difference between shooting film in the traditional sense and creating film that works in urban spaces. It requires different competencies, skills and collaborations, as exemplified in the conversation.

Competence needs
The need for a matching of property owners with creators that has emerged in every conversation is supplemented here with a need to clarify the roles—which roles and skills are required, and when? What can a curator contribute to a design assignment? An artistic director? A project manager? Since filmmaking for urban space is still in its infancy, there is still work to be done on several different levels for the processes to mature. What training needs can be discerned? How can we reduce the gap between production and creation on the one hand, screening and shared experience on the other? How can processes be simplified? These were the issues discussed.

Technical prerequisites
Our high-tech age should be reasonably suitable for creating conditions for digital works in the city. What would be needed to move forward so that the technology and artistic expression conjoin to benefit residents, visitors and creators? The conversation attests to a common will and work in progress. During the conversation, the importance of a film commission in establishing links between film and municipality was discussed, as well as the effort that exists to simplify processes in terms of permits, event routines, leasing and collaboration with relevant authorities.