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“You are not here by luck”: Johanna Nyberg and ‘Comedians’

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“Comedians”

Johanna Nyberg

It felt so strange leaving the airport in Salt Lake City and leaving the bubble I’d been caught up in for almost a week. I am sure the latitude and jetlag was behind some of it, but not all of it. I tried to grasp the feelings from what I had experienced and it was just too surreal and overwhelming to even know where I should begin.

The bubble I am referring to is the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Ignite fellowship. It took me to this amazing, heartwarming, and incredible film festival filled with inspiration. A film festival based on the rights to have your own voice, the rights to be able to tell your story. A film festival devoted to embrace independent filmmaking, and it couldn’t be more up-to-date in today’s frightening political climate.

I had submitted my film Comedians sure in doubt of even becoming a finalist. As soon as I had uploaded my film I simply closed the browser and tried to forget about it, like how you want to escape an awkward interaction with your dentist at the supermarket. Turns out I actually just uploaded a ticket towards one of the greatest experiences of my life, a Sundance Ignite Fellowship supported by Sundance and Adobe Project 1324. The Festival staff and Ignite crew were amazing, and I won’t forget what they told us at arriving there: ”You are not here by luck; you are here because we want to support you as filmmakers.”

Johanna Nyberg

There are so many highlights from my experience, I can’t really choose one. It’s me being completely swept away by meeting Alethea Jones (director, Fun Mom Dinner) at the Ignite Speed-Dating event and hearing how she began her career and her advice to young (female) filmmakers. She jumped on to the next table leaving me with a feeling that I am kind of invincible.

The day before that I went to a screening and film chat with Quentin Tarantino and Michael Madsen where they discussed the casting sessions for “Mr. Blonde” in Reservoir Dogs. Did I already mention the word surreal? Anyway here we go again: surreal.

As Ignite Fellows we also got the chance for a more intimate sit-down with filmmakers. I soaked up inspiration from Michael Larnell and listened to him describe his process of making the incredible biopic Roxanne, Roxanne.

But maybe most of all, I cherish meeting the other fellows whom I was truly inspired by, both as fellow filmmakers and as friends. Some of us already have plans to collaborate, and I can’t wait.

Back home in Sweden I am part of the director-duo Cherry Cobra. We were recently signed by the Stockholm production company Hobby Film and right now we are excited to be working on a music video. Alongside my work at Hobby Film I continue to discuss my goals and work with my awesome mentor Matthew Takata (Manager, Sundance Institute Feature Film Program). Among those goals: to complete a script for a second short film by the fall of 2017.

I encourage everyone who is an aspiring filmmaker to submit to the Sundance Ignite Fellowship for an experience you’ll never forget and an incredible opportunity to develop further as a filmmaker.

(Note to self: Bring snow boots next time)

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