Meet the Makers Volume IV: Erlendur Sveinsson

Courtney Cilman
March 10, 2016

“Meet the Makers” is a profile series highlighting the experiences of current Film students and faculty here at Columbia. I recently sat down with Erlendur Sveinsson, a second-year Directing concentrate from Iceland, to get his take on life as a Columbia Film student.

Sveinsson is one of those people who exudes calm. Even on the most hectic sets, where everything is going wrong, he keeps an even tempo and his work reflects this steadiness. Prior to attending Columbia, he worked in Iceland as a DOP on professional sets, even landing a gig on the popular show Game of Thrones. But he found himself missing writing.

“I really missed writing. And the stuff that I’d directed back home had done really well. So I always knew that I had that skill that I wanted to try to make better. I just felt it was time for me to get into this space of actually thinking about stories that I want to tell and movies that I want to make.”

Now at Columbia, he’s found that the ability to collaborate with other people who are passionate about storytelling is what fuels him most.

“It’s a place for people who respect the art form and respect movies and really care about hearing your thoughts on what their writing and what you’re writing. It’s a bunch of really good people.”

When he’s not making films, he fills his time with soccer, an iPhone game he excels at called Tower Defense and spending time with his wife, whom he married this summer.

“It was very romantic. No one tells you how much fun it is to get married I think. Because it was the most fun thing I ever did.”

Sveinsson brings a distinct sensibility to his films. He gravitates towards dramatic comedies and brings a sense of whimsy even to tragic situations. His films tackle heavy subjects with a light hand. His first short film at Columbia,Mia’s Got a Plan, tells the story of a young girl who plots to rekindle her parents’ love and save their marriage from an impending divorce. This boldly carefree approach spills out of Sveinsson’s films and into his approach to life in general. I asked him what his favorite quote was and he chose one that not only describes himself but also many of the characters in his films:

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”