Canadian director shooting new movie in Estonian at open air museum

On set at the filming of
On set at the filming of "Night" at the Estonian Open Air Museum. Source: ERR

At the Estonian Open Air Museum, Canadian director Emily Kai Bock has been working into the small hours with an Estonian cast and crew to create a new short film, called "Night." Bock, whose mother is Estonian, not only wanted the film to be set in an old Estonian village, but also decided that all the dialogue should be in Estonian too.

When ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" arrived on set on Tuesday afternoon, the day's work had only just begun. As the film's title "Night" suggests, all the action takes place in total darkness, so shooting usually goes on until half past three in the morning.

"It's an allegory or a metaphor for, all of a sudden everything that's normal is completely disrupted on a very fundamental level, like the sun or nature. You're thrown into a completely different reality that you're left to survive and struggle in, and hold on to life, while death is imposing. Maybe it's a reference to war or a personal journey of clinging to life," Bock explained.

Bock, who is from Canada, also wrote the film's screenplay. Not only did she decide to set the story in an Estonian village 100 years ago, but all the dialogue is in pure Estonian too. Bock has a very personal reason for doing so - her mother is Estonian and so, she has planned to visit Estonia for a long time.

"When I got this vision of a film, in my mind it was always set in an eastern European country. So, I realized that if I was going to be working in another language, it would be a great opportunity for me to learn Estonian and work with Estonian actors," said Bock.

The lead roles in the film will be played by Katariina Unt and Meelis Rämmeld, both of whom Bock describes as excellent actors.

Bock does not like to over-rely on modern digital technology, preferring instead to record everything the old school way, on film. Added to that, all the action will be shot in black and white. However, this can make filming more challenging.

"Black and white film is very insensitive (to light), so there has to be a lot of light for us to see anything. While digital cameras are getting more and more sensitive and less and less light is needed, black and white film needs more and more light," explained Kristofer Piir, a producer at Estonian film company Allfilm.

When using digital cameras, it is possible to check and review what is being filmed on the fly, however, this is not the case when recording on film. "We can actually only watch the footage that we have shot on the first day at the end of the shoot," said Piir.

Bock, who among other projects, has previously directed music videos for Canadian band Arcade Fire, hopes that, when the film is complete, it will also be available for Estonian audiences to enjoy.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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