Production notes for DEAR LINA

Production Notes for Dear Lina

DEAR LINA has changed my life in unforeseen ways. What more can I ask as a filmmaker?

Roughly 5 years ago, my wife Lina and I went to Colombia for the summer. At that time, we were living in Norway and I was employed by a film production company. Lina is from Colombia and therefore it made sense for us to move there, especially in light of how close she is to her family.

I borrowed a video camera from work and started to shoot, essentially pointing it at whatever fascinated or interested me, a strategy that had been growing on me for a number of years...

About a year later, fed up with not realizing my ambitions of becoming a filmmaker, but rather, assisting on the films of others, I quit my job. We packed our bags and moved to Medellin, where Lina was born. I swore never to make another film and to live life to the fullest.

As the months went by, I was drawn to all sorts of projects - day trading, e-commerce, opening a restaurant and so on. What I didn't realize, was that I had picked up my camera (I eventually got around to buying one) and was filming once again. I was used to filming in public and making zero-budget shorts with actors at all sorts of locations around Oslo. Here I was again, shooting away.

The project grew steadily and went through numerous rough cuts but wasn't quite there. Could I really make this film? Was this process-driven approach simply absurd or could it lead to something compelling? Truth be told, there was much doubt.

Realizing that living in Colombia had reached its logical conclusion, my wife and I decided that the time had come for change once again.

I researched art schools that approach filmmaking differently and boiled down my choice to one school - San Francisco Art Institute. It was the only one that appealed to me. I applied and was accepted. This was a much-needed step toward where I am now. It was becoming clear that in order to fulfill my dreams, the time had come to attack filmmaking anew, from a fresh perspective and without the constraints of industry weighing on my shoulders.

All in all, the experience was not what I expected, but at the end of the day, it turned out to be hugely successful. The film went through critique after critique and a steady bombardment of opinions, ideologies and strategies. There was only one conclusion to be reached; do it your way. And so I did.

The result is DEAR LINA, my first long form documentary film. The pieces came together and the story eventually revealed itself. As I grew with the story, Lina and I maturing together, I was making discoveries about the film and myself simultaneously. Gradually, it became clear that the film was about my wife Lina.

Themes of belonging, the search for love, home and ultimately purpose - all these emerged organically as the film began to dig deeper into Lina's childhood and relationship to her friends and family.

The strength of Lina's ties to her home in Colombia, in spite of the tough times she had growing up during the era that Pablo Escobar was terrorizing Medellin, became integral to the story. The tension of her unstoppable will to leave for the U.S., driven by her desire to become an artist, while longing for the unconditional love that she had back home from her family and friends, fascinate me.

There are so many contrasting realities that are encapsulated within the life of Lina. Married to a Norwegian, working as an artist and designer, living between different countries, experiencing rich and poor, danger and safety, hot and cold, love and self-sufficiency. Such differing outlooks and ideologies - all intertwined. A fascinating mosaic of experiences and emotions - atrocities and beauty, love and hatred, greed and cruelty. It can be tricky to make sense of it all.

What I do know, is that I will keep searching through my camera. Perhaps on some level I ultimately need to.

When the pieces come together, it is a magical and truly uplifting experience. It is literally as though a small fabric of our existence has been revealed. At that point, it is most definitely worth it.

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Film Reviews

Sandy W. Coleman from California

“What a film. You captured the essence of our past lives as we move forward on our path. Who are we? A collection of our past, current experiences and dreams. Thank you.”

Hiro Narita (ASC - American Society of Cinematographers)

“Dear Lina demonstrates his understanding of cultures beyond borders in cinematic language that implicitly expresses human emotions.”

Anthony Romero of DaCast

“I must say that I was blown away by the cinematography and use of colors through out. So as a film buff, kudos for making a stellar product.”