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South By Southwest 2014 Interview – LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND director Christian Larson

Leave The World Behind - At SxSW 2014
by Jason Whyte

“LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND is a documentary about three DJ’s and best friends who became a global music phenomenon and sold out arenas around the world. Then, at the height of their success, they decided to break up. How do you deal with friendships when things change and what ties you together comes to an end? Also, it shows the colorful crowds of people dancing and screaming to house music around the world.” Director Christian Larson on “Leave The World Behind” which screens at this year's South By Southwest Film Festival.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

This is my first time at SXSW, and I think this is a fantastic place for the world premiere of the film as it mixes film and music, and I will be attending our premiere screening on March 12.

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

I started shooting skateboard films when I was young as well as making music. That’s how I fell in love with the connection between film and music, and how it’s created in the edit process. I’ve been shooting commercials and music videos for the past few years including music videos for Kylie Minogue, Tinie Tempah and Swedish House Mafia. In 2010, I made the short documentary “Take One” followed by "Valtari", my first short film with music from the Icelandic band Sigur Rós that won a couple of awards.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

I started listening to house music in 2006 and dragged my girlfriend to Ibiza to see some DJ’s when I met Sebastian, Axwell, and Steve at an after party. At this point, I knew very little about the DJ-world and became fascinated with the music, lifestyle and energy. There was something different about these guys, being in a group instead of a solo act. I instantly knew I had to pick up the camera and film them. I made a short documentary about them in 2010. They called me again last year and told me they were going to break up and go on a last tour ,and they asked me to come film the whole thing. I didn’t know what to expect from the band or the tour, but I knew I had to do it, so I immediately said yes.

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

At times, it was difficult to find private moments with the guys during the tour when there are so many people around and such hectic schedules to do 50 shows around the world. Also, the band didn’t want a big film crew around, so I had to shoot and do the sound myself most of the time. I enjoyed it, but my back was not as pleased with carrying around that equipment for 6 months.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

Filming in India was amazing, and it ended up as my favorite part in the film. The people there have taken this genre of music to their hearts and showed it to the band on another level. The faces, the screams, the locations… It was nuts! It really felt like the band brought a whole new experience to these people. It also provided us to shoot at some stunning locations in addition to a lot of hotels and backstage rooms.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?

I would say it is the vision of the final result that drives me through the filmmaking process, and that always makes me put in more hours. I want to see the film with a perfect image and sound on the screen in the end! I also love spending time in the editing room, searching for the perfect scene, trying out ideas for the story, and making images come together with music.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

I did some tests before the shoot based on the idea that I wanted to be able to achieve as high quality image and sound as possible. It is challenging as a one-man crew. I wanted to keep the filming intimate, and I knew the band didn’t want to have extra film crew around them. That required mobility and a slim rig, and I ended up shooting on the C300 with a Red compact zoom. For audio, I had a small mixer on my shoulder and wireless mics that I mixed on the fly. I also had a second unit in my talented friend Carl Lindstrom, with a similar rig, who focused on crowd and scenery while I focused on the band. On two of the concerts, we also had additional Alexa and Red cameras. We also spent a lot of time in the grade and sound mix that I am very involved in. I’m really happy with how it looks and sounds.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW?

I am really looking forward to seeing the audience reaction to the film as the festival attracts a great mix of enthusiastic film and music fans.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?

The film will have preview screenings in LA and NY as well as in theaters around the world the day after the screening at the festival. We have really pushed to have a compressed release to allow people to see it as soon as possible as they want to see it, and I think it’s really cool to have the film come out on screens just after the festival. We have plans for a digital release which will be announced soon.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?

Talking would be hard as the film is loud! And, I suggest they don’t text as I will personally strangle them.
There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

Nobody will do anything for you initially, so just start to work hard and never give up. You have to create your own projects, and then execute them well. And, Always over deliver.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2014 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 7-15. For more information on the film’s screening, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jasonrcwhyte

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originally posted: 03/12/14 01:31:11
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