Martin Strange-Hansen interview: ‘On My Mind’ director)
“I was in a karaoke bar, I was drunk and I was happy,” reveals Martin Strange-Hansen, director and writer of “On My Mind.”. For our recent webchat he continues, “Someone in the crowd said, ‘hey Martin, don’t you want to sing a song?’ It was the first time I tried it. Three hours later I was still at the microphone because I didn’t get the rules. It gave me the idea about this guy who wants to sing the same song that’s both a profound wish, but also kind of comical.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“On My Mind” is a short film about a man desperate to sing Willie Nelson‘s “Always On My Mind” for his wife at a karaoke machine in a sleepy bar. Strange-Hansen says he chose the song because “it is a song about saying goodbye. That’s something you suddenly realize when you have to say goodbye. While you’re in that process of saying goodbye, there’s all the things you wish you had done. But you have to go through and cherish what you did do right.”
The film is inspired by the director’s experience of losing his daughter, explaining, “In 2001 my daughter was in and out of hospital. I remember at one point I went into a bar to get a double whiskey. While I was in there, two other guys were having this surreal conversation about what would happen if you tied a rope around the globe. I was just there in my very own dark moment. I remember thinking, ‘sometimes you can be so close in proximity, but in a completely different universe.’ I was stuck with that feeling and the feeling of saying goodbye. Being able to share some of the more painful insights that this experience gave me, looking back and commemorating her, is something I cherish. It’s not runaway pain.”
Strange-Hansen won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2002 for “The Charming Man” and now contends again in the same category by being on the voters’ shortlist. In telling a story that balances tragedy and comedic moments the director says, “I often use humor as part of my filming language. When I’ve been in the most severe crisis in my life, there’s so much energy and so much tension in you, that sometimes you burst out laughing. In that sense, that’s why I wanted that feeling, that there was a lightness as well.”