Frederik Norgaard about MY ROBOT BROTHER: “I wanted people to feel welcome in a warm future”
School life sucks for 12-year-old Alberte. Her old android Robbi is quite an embarrassment to her. With the perfect birthday present – the newest model of humanoids – everything seems to change. The new robot Konrad looks and acts completely as if he were human and suddenly Alberte’s popularity spikes as she is now the kid with the most advanced technology at school. But can the connection between Alberte and Konrad hold up to a real friendship?
For what specific tasks in your life would you consider it practical to have a robot at your service?
Frederik Norgaard: I wouldn’t say no to a lawnmower robot or a maid, for cleaning , tidying up or shopping groceries. A robot cook would be nice too, or a caddie for playing golf.
In your future world, solutions have been found for all ecological problems. What was the key element to getting them solved?
Norgaard: The key element is recycling, refurbishing and not using more than what we need. That’s why food printers are crucial, not to generate any waste. Each household grows its own food, generates its own power and classic cars have been changed into electric ones.
But people's status - just like nowadays with mobile phones - is still defined by fashionable technology.
Norgaard: It’s a very up-to-date theme that we’ve maintained in the future in order for the audience to identify with the story and the characters. A good sci-fi always keeps a connection with current themes and problems.
Even when immersing us in the future, there is a lot of nostalgia to your story, impersonated by Robbi the robot.
Norgaard: Our goal was to create a refurbished, recycled future, a clash of different periods - 70s, 80s, 90s,… Robbi is the result of that. But even more important, Robbi represents Alberte’s innocence and purity. She is caught between childhood and adulthood, a difficult and insecure period in life, which is why she feels attracted to the “cooler” kids.
With all those scenes in intriguing, futuristic buildings, how did you pick your locations, or how did you make them look extra futuristic?
Norgaard: For a sci-fi film, MY ROBOT BROTHER had a very limited budget, so we had to be very precise with our locations. We were so lucky; there wasn’t much upgrading to be done. The only set we constructed was the interior of Alberte’s house; we needed a greenhouse on the roof.
I suppose Konrad's design was well-overthought. Why does he look the way he does?
Norgaard: Three things were important about Konrad’s design: 1. That he was more cool and futuristic than Robbi. 2. That his looks would help convincing the audience that he actually was a robot, not an actor. 3. That he’d fit the pod he arrives in. The unboxing scene was a key scene to the film, and we wanted it to have an MAC UNBOXING feel. If that scene didn’t work, the audience wouldn’t believe the premise of the film. The scenes between Konrad and Alberte often express very poetic and complex emotions.
On the other hand Robbi's design is utterly charming. How do people react to his presence?
Norgaard: Robbi was one of our main challenges. I knew that the best way to make it work was by putting a man in that suit, without getting people to think “oh there’s a man in a funny suit”. So we decided to keep the costume super basic. I was nervous, but then when the designer sent me the first clip of the actor walking in it… kaboom! It worked. Everybody loved Robbi. Except the actor inside the costume - he felt super lonesome and extremely hot. Kudos to him!
Your hope for the future speaks through the film's colour design. How did you decide about the right colours to create the right atmosphere?
Norgaard: It was key to me not to create a dystopian future; the future had to be positive and filled with hope. So the colour scheme for the film was earthly colours and organic materials, except of course for the big factory in the end. I wanted people to feel welcome in a warm future.
One thing is clear: even with the most developed technology, adults will always remain clumsy and far from perfect.
Norgaard: The film is seen from Alberte’s point of view and all children between the age of 11 and 18 think their parents are super awkward. Moreover, the parents in the film are actually the children of today. Their online lives are the result of children today spending too much time online – a meta reference towards the future.
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