The insanity of daily modern life is presented with an exponentially comedic tone in the Finnish Academy Award-nominated Live Action Short Do I Have to Take Care of Everything? A mother wakes up in a panic certain that she and her family are late for a wedding ceremony. What ensues is a series of hilarious, but progressively terrible events that force her to try and solve all of them in the best way possible given such constrains. Director Selma Vilhunen talked to us about the real life inspiration for the short, her countrymen incredible support, and the unbelievable experience of being nominated for an Oscar.
Aguilar: How did the idea for the short come about?
Selma Vilhunen: The screenwriter, Kirsikka Saari, she had this idea or the theme in her mind for quite sometime, about people in a hurry, an a person having to do a lot of things in work and in family. But for sometime she didn’t know what the exact approach would be. She had this theme in her head and then one day she had a fight with her husband about house chores and whatnot, and she was kind of doing the same thing as the protagonist in the film. She was jumping around the house, and trying to do all kinds of things but not really being successful at any of them. Then she left the house, banged the door and went for a walk to cool her angry head. She sat down on a bench and then she started to laugh at herself. She saw herself from another person’s point of view, that’s when she knew what the approach for this theme would be. She realized that it is a comedy, and that she should laugh at this person.
Aguilar: Previously you have worked on various documentary shorts, which usually tend to be of a more serious nature, what attracted you to this short narrative comedy?
Selma Vilhunen: I could also relate to it [Laughs] I also have personal experience on this kind of situation in life. Kirsikka and I are co-owners of the same production company and we both have kids, so the question “Do I have to take care of everything?” is something I can really relate to. I also just really like the rhythm that is written in the story as well as the words, it was basically a funny story already on paper.
Aguilar: What do you think is the driving force or the reasoning behind mothers wanting to take care of everything, and do it right?
Selma Vilhunen: That’s a good question. It seems like often women are expected to be the ones who are responsible for the world going around, but on the other hand they kind of just take that role and don’t give any responsibility to the people around them. We wanted to take a small look at that, and maybe raise the question whether it is wise to try to take care of everything.
Aguilar: After the funeral sequence something chances in the family, do you think this has to do with the fact that in today’s world we tend to live so fast and we forget about the small things?
Selma Vilhunen: Maybe it is like that. Maybe the viewers can make the final interpretations themselves. Perhaps other people have different interpretations of what’s behind it all. But definitely I like the fact that is a funeral that makes them finally calm down and take a pause, but also of course, in the plot, after that they really don’t have anything to go to [Laughs] They tried their best and now there’s no where to go to. Maybe it is also the fact that life is short and you should seize the moment, the funeral kind of reminds them of that.
Aguilar: This film is only the second film ever from Finland to be nominated for an Academy Award, and the first short film. Is there any pressure on you from your compatriots?
Selma Vilhunen: I wouldn’t say that there is pressure to win the Oscar. We, and I would say also Finnish people, are very happy about this. This is a really wonderful opportunity, to be nominated, so we are enjoying this nomination already. Winning the Oscar would only be like a bonus on top of something that is already really wonderful. We have really felt the excitement of all Finnish people. It is really nice but it also a little bit surprising how much the entire nation is living this experience with us. Sometimes it can feel like this is a pressure, but we don’t want to think of it that way, we just want to enjoy it.
Aguilar: What are your future plans?Any projects in development?
Selma Vilhunen: In Tuffi Films, which is our production company, we have several projects going on at the same time. Kirsikka and I are working on a feature film, she is writing it and I’m going to direct it. We hope to have it in production next year. We also have a very busy spring. On February 28 th we have the premier of a film called Korso, which was written by Kirsikka and another writer Jenni Toivoniemi, and it is produced by Tuffi films and another production company. Then I will have my feature documentary, Laulu, in theaters in April, so it is a busy Spring.