An interview with Eric Eymard on his creative video project
French expatriate Eric Eymard moved to Iceland several years ago and has been diligently blogging about his daily life for a French audience. Eric recently interviewed twelve Icelandic personalities and asked them to express their wishes for 2012 in a project that he describes as a virtual poem or surrealist event. What he finds most striking about Icelanders is their openness to meet strangers with trust rather than scepticism, and he hopes the videos will inspire other to come and discover Iceland, its culture, humour and inhabitants. In our interview, he tells us more about this video project…
What inspired you to do it?
I was reading Halldór Laxness’ ‘Íslandsklukkan’ (“Iceland’s Bell”) when the idea of the twelve wishes for 2012 came to me. In particular, I was reading the passage on reputation and what it means to Icelandic people. By giving them the means to express their wishes in front of a camera, I wanted to acknowledge their way of thinking. This in turn would help them construct a certain reputation that they would always be able to turn to. My overall goal was to pay tribute to the Icelanders.
You interviewed 12 different Icelanders, how did you choose these personalities?
Technically, I only interviewed ten ‘real’ Icelanders. Marc Bouteiller is the French ambassador here in Iceland, so it seemed to be appropriate to ask him to participate, and the last wish is a mixe of the wishes from men and women that I met on the streets. I wanted to pay tribute to the whole nation.
To answer your question, I first thought of the most well-known people: Björk, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Arnaldur Indriðason, Sigur Rós, GusGus, Jón Gnarr… Some kindly declined and some never replied to my numerous invitations, and others said they would participate before mysteriously vanishing into the tranquil anonymity of a hot spring.
I also got a lot of help from a friend, Unnur Orradóttir Ramette, as well as from Haukur, the honourable editor in chief of the brilliant Reykjavík Grapevine. Without them, it would have taken me much longer to realise this project, so a big thank you goes out to them.
What did you hope to achieve?
I wanted the personalities in front of my camera to speak freely and openly. I wanted them to take advantage of the ‘stage’ they were given to reveal their creativity, their sense of humour, their imagination or even a small part of their private thoughts and their soul.
Which video interviews have turned out to be the best in your opinion?
My three favourites are Jón Gnarr, for the reasons I have stated above, Sigridur Thorlacius, because she and Guðmundur Óskar Guðmundsson welcomed me with an incredible kindness even though they certainly had other fish to fry, and finally, the wishes of the Icelanders on the streets because they were so enthusiastic, and participated with a lot of originality and humour.
Is there a defining character trait that can be seen in all of the interviews?
Apart from the fact that all of these people are easily accessible and that they are simple people (I mean this in a positive sense), I would have to say no. Still, the message aside, people who I interviewed knew how to be authentic and delivered their message in a unique way.
Have you been successful?
More or less, but it is not my place to judge. In my opinion, Jón Gnarr made the most of the idea behind the project. He succeeded in promoting his city while using a funny and quirky tone. Haukur Magnússon, perhaps as well, as his indecisiveness (was it deliberate?) allowed me to put together a hilarious video. As for the others, I think they stayed true to their characters. For that reason, the texts that I published with the videos had a specific goal, namely to complete the messages and to compensate for the wishes that may have been too scripted.