You are walking towards the person you have been searching for your whole life. Your heart starts beating faster and your hands are sweaty. You’re so close that you can almost touch them. The person turns around. You wake up.
This is how you would feel as the main character in Ka Ki Wong’s graduation short, “I Draw Inside A Sheep”, set in the south of Iceland. Ka Ki is a London-based filmmaker currently studying her MA in filmmaking at the London Film School who regularly visits Iceland.
The reality of dreams
The film is a surreal exploration of dreams and meeting strangers. The main character keeps having the same dream of an unknown man, but for some reason, she can never see him completely. So she sets out to find him.
“I don’t really like realistic stuff,” says the director. “I love things that you don’t know whether they are dream or reality, and exploring our relationships with strangers. So I thought: you dream of someone but then you can’t really see what they look like. They’re really close, but at the same time they’re also as far away as they could be.”
The light in the dark
The title “I Draw Inside A Sheep” is purposely ambiguous, and came to exist just a week before she submitted the film as her final graduation piece at the beginning of this year.
“One thought is to make people want to watch the film just because of the title,” Ka Ki explains. “Another is that when we dream, our eyes are closed, so it should be dark—but dreams can be very vivid. I play around with that feeling of how you can be in a dark place, but you can see something very clearly at the same time.”
The sheep is thus a reference to sleep problems, like when parents ask their child to count sheep. As we all know, it’s not that easy—just like working with sheep.
“The producers kept asking me whether I was really sure that I wanted to get a sheep because they are very dumb,” Ka Ki laughs. “I said yes. But of course, the first day on set I regretted it because they’re so stupid they can’t do anything.”
“I was told that we would get a sheep that is rather tame and calm but it died the night before the first day of the shoot,” she continues. “The producers got a wild one the next morning after being completely panicked. That sheep was not tame, and not used to humans, so it was even more difficult to work with.”
For the director, involving locals (not only sheep) in the production was of utmost importance. “I find that if you make a film with locals they will be so numb towards the landscape that they won’t find everything fascinating,” she says. “But they can find an extraordinary angle on something that has been seen many times. The very first thing I told my cinematographer was that I didn’t want epic drone shots of Iceland.”
Two of Ka Ki’s short films have already been shown during previous editions of the Reykjavík Film Festival and she hopes that “I Draw Inside A Sheep” will be added to that list. “I always believe it’s something Icelandic that made this film happen,” the director concludes.