We interview Laura Ugolini and tell you all about the making of DYSTOPIA

By Belén Nieto

After the news of its distribution in Latin America, we want to tell you more about this disruptive and fun frankestian story from the hand of her creator.

Laura Ugolini is an Italian film director and writer currently based in the city of Oslo, Norway. As a child, her passion for horror movies and dark stories became visible, a milestone that marked the film “The Fly” by David Croenenberg (1986) when she saw it for the first time at the age of 8. In those years when, unlike today, where social networks are a controversial platform but also serve communication and socialization, more than friends, it was books and TV that inspired little Laura and constituted her taste for telling. stories.

Especially at a time when child-youth cinema focused so heavily on horror, fantasy and suspense stories (“The Gremlins”, “Labyrinth”, “Pet Cemetery”, “Coup in Little China” And the list of films goes on!), It was that childhood that channeled the charm of stories in her adolescence and led her to study Cinema at the University of Rome. While still studying, Laura began her career in the film industry working as an assistant director in multiple productions, but of course her dream was to write and direct on her own.

Growing up in the 90s, a total paradigm shift, regarding music, technology and the way we communicate. It is this globalized and frenetic environment where we could say that the feeling of what years later would be “Dystopia” is born: “(…) it is a reflection of my experience growing up in the 90’s (.. .) Exposure to certain beauty standards affects our mind and perception of the world, we feel that we are constantly judged and I wanted to address this type of anxiety, ”says Laura.

But the inspiration in the short film does not only come from youth itself, but also reflects something that affects today’s childhood and adolescence: social networks and exposure on the internet. Both the new Gen-Z of digital natives, as well as the generation of Millennials, felt the cultural change that new technologies brought to the surface, a new way of conceiving the world and perceiving ourselves.

Hyperconnection, exposure, judgment, those kinds of feelings came together in the creation of this story. When Laura suggested the topic to screenwriter Anja Skovly Freberg, she was immediately interested and they began to write together: “We live in a society that has no real filters when it comes to harmful material on networks: violence, cruelty and extreme standards of beauty are just a click away. This is what made me want to work at Dystopia and the fact that we were able to tell the story in a playful and humorous way made me love it even more ” says Anja .

Back in January 2019, after the project was chosen to compete in pitching during the Kortfilm Konvent in Trondheim, Norway, both were in search of a production company to make it happen. In its early days, Anita Vedå of Smau Media was the essential help in securing the first funding from the Western Norway Film Commission, before Cathrine Wespestad of Perdurabo Productions took over.

Six months later, the rest of the funding for Dystopia was being raised, through a combination of grants from the Norwegian Film Institute and the Southern Norwegian Film Commission. With all the resources and a committed team, made up almost entirely of women, Dystopia began its journey.

A fresh project that seeks to encourage other filmmakers to create stories from non-traditional perspectives, presents us in the voice of the little influencer Linnea, Jenny Iversed, four women: Vicky, Peaches, Liz and Mama Joan, played by Valentina Alexeeva, Yajay Jalow, Hanne Melingen and Ingrid Werner respectively. His irrepressible blood desires make Chad, Sveinung Augestar, the test architect for his daring experiments in search of an answer: if it is possible to create the “ideal man”, one member at a time.

For the director of this horror-glam story, the instance of the construction of the characters and the casting was precisely the part that she enjoyed the most of the creative process:

“The inspiration came mainly from reality shows like Botched and KUWTK (Keeping up with the Kardashians) as well as some celebrities and social media gurus. The auditions were held before production and I had the opportunity to define the characters around the talent that was available. I think it is very important to involve the artist in this process ” Laura says.

Teamwork is the distinctive mark of Dystopia, for the realization of the short multiple artists and filmmakers from the most varied disciplines contributed their specific knowledge. This same harmony was important in overcoming the challenges imposed by a world in a pandemic: restrictions of people on the film set, isolation, managing resources and interacting with film festivals from virtuality and distance: despite all this, Dystopia has already been presented at Fantaspoa (Brazil) and Screamfest (USA) !, both festivals held digitally.

Within the framework of a new aesthetic trend that advocates bringing back influences from the recent past to be re-signified by the new generations from a new perspective (the music of Marina, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, film remakes 80/90, the Friends meeting, etc), the short manages to be, in the same way, a proposal as current as vintage.

A different and authentic look at the problems of utopia and standards created around the female body, from sarcastic humor and parody, a non-dramatic way of relating a pressure against which women have been fighting for a long time so many years, especially in the last decades of technological explosion: another testimony of how cinema is a cycle of constant reinvention, regarding new ways of telling stories and communicating, an infinite bridge that has united and unites generations, experiences and reflections.

Laura is currently working on a genre short film and writing a feature film and although she does not rule out the adaptation of Dystopia to other formats, the focus is on its worldwide distribution.

For now let’s celebrate Dystopia and the future will reveal all the stories that Laura Ugolini has yet to tell.