Alexander Rydén - Surround Yourself With Positivity and People Who Are Going to Challenge You to Make You Better (Action Director From Sweden)

Alexander Rydén

Surround yourself with good people; surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better. For me, this has been Simon Sjörén at the production company Whiteout Pictures.

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

My dad taught me how to ski when I was 3 years old. When I was 6 years, my mom showed me an analog still camera for the first time and I loved it. As teenagers, I and my friends started out filming each other on a DV-cam, skiing, and jumping. 

The main goal was to try to do the same jumps as we saw in the ski movies. But I also compared my amateur footage to professional footage. Tried to understand what I as a filmmaker could do better next time.

At that time I had no ambitions of getting into the business of filming. I was working in the lift at my home resort and did some designing for the park layout. One day at work, a friend called me and asked if I could help out on the set of a TV show which was being produced in Åre. Apparently, they needed help constructing some obstacles in the snow, and someone tipped them about me.

I called my boss, asked for two weeks off, and just like that, I was on my way to the set. I helped out a lot and worked hard as an assistant. I think this is where it all started for me. Not because I learned a lot or because I had any given skill. What lighted my fire was watching the men & women doing this sort of thing for a living that inspired me. If they could work with film, I sure as h*ll should be able to work with it too!

When my employment was over at the set, I courageously approached the producer and asked if they had any work for me. He smiled and said what he was supposed to say, but to cut it short I didn't receive any exciting phone calls during the following weeks.

As an unemployed but interested and aspiring filmer, I started to think about how I could get to where they were at. So I moved to Stockholm to attend one year of media school with a focus on Live TV production. Fun fact: 80% of live tv productions are either Football or Hockey, my least favorite sports.

After that, I applied as a trainee at Big Brother as well as a local tv channel, TV Åre. Both parts accepted my inquiry, and I chose TV Åre. To this day I still regard choosing TV Åre as the best decision I've ever made. Even if I was "just" a trainee, I got the chance to shoot everything between heaven and earth that was going on in the town. From kids on the slopes to the pros visiting for competitions.

One day when on set for a commercial I met Simon Sjörén. He had just bought the world's biggest drone, which was apparently strong enough to lift a kid. There was only one problem: you needed two people to handle it, one flying the drone and one operating the camera. A problem that was very convenient for me. We started working a lot together and practiced many ways of capturing skiing in any way we could imagine.

As things evolved our teamwork proved prosperous, and Simon started what is now Whiteout Pictures. In the beginning, there was a lot of experimenting. I wanted to know every which way I could tweak the camera and my equipment to the max with skis strapped to my feet.

From there, things have been taking off and what I experimented with back then is now the foundation of how I do my filming.

How I film skiing (1 minute). Have a look at the video here

2. How and when did you realize your passion for creating films?

Alexander Rydén

I don't really remember exactly. Or I would say, I don't think I realized it back then. I had a class in filmmaking during high school. One of the first tasks was to film a dialog between two people. 

Together with my sister's boyfriend who was 7 years older than me and worked with tv. I did a short film, instead of just filming the 3 different camera angles we were supposed to shoot. My teacher was impressed and I was eager to do the next film task.

3. What are the important skills one should have to be a successful cinematographer?

The eagerness to grow and learn more. The curiosity to think new. Be a team player and work together.

Alexander Rydén

4. Which film(s) do you appreciate the most for their cinematography?

Feature: Dunkirk, James Bond Spectre, Interstellar,
Basically everything Hoyte van hoytema shot. Natural and realistic look.

Documentary: Free solo with Alex Honnold, Directed and shot by Jimmy Chin.
It’s such a physically and mentally complex thing, to just get yourself as a cinematographer in the right position on a 1000m high wall. To capture the action, without disturbing.

5. What has been the biggest learning from your job?

Communication and team-leading. Has been one of the hardest parts for me to develop. I have always been very shy when meeting new people. As I grew up in a small village with only 63 people living there. It hasn't been natural for me to communicate with new people.

Alexander Rydén

Surround yourself with good people; surround yourself with positivity and people who are going to challenge you to make you better. For me, this has been Simon Sjörén at the production company Whiteout Pictures.

Together we have learned from each other.

Dare to trust your vision.

6. Which is your favorite book and why?

I don’t read books. I have dyslexia and am a very slow reader.

Youtube Channels

InDepthCine | Athletic Interest

Instagram: @filmmakersworld

To be a good source of learning and inspiration.

Alexander Rydén - Action Director / Cinematographer / Gimbal Operator

Interviewed By: Navya Garg