Every week we interview people in our team so you get to know us better.
Other interviews so far:
Henrik Ahlström, a multi-talented artist and storyteller. Having worked within the world of theatre and big shows he is now taking the step into the world of moving pictures. He’s a background as an athlete and stuntman but later developed his skills as a Director, Producer and Writer. Henrik is an entrepreneur, a doer and a dreamer. He always carries out his projects to perfection and are looking to grow within Tulpa Creatives as the right-hand man to Richard Jarnhed and the team.
The interview was made with Henrik in May 2019.
Henrik Ahlström in front. From the left: Henrik Summanen, Simon Kölle, Anders Blixt, Henrik Ahlström, Richard Jarnhed, Lars Gustafson
What made you pursue working creatively within the film, TV and/or gaming world?
As a child I dreamed of becoming a moviestar and I always believed that I would be working in the film industry when I grew up. When I was 13 I got my first shot at stardom. I was cast as an extra in the movie 1939 playing a brat kid in Stockholm beating up a Finnish war refuge boy.
The movie turned out to be the breakthrough for Swedish actress Helena Bergström. For me it wasn’t. My scene was cut from the movie. The movie is in all fairness still 3 hours long.
As chance would have it life choose another path and I ended up working in the theatre and musical business instead. I actually started my career in theatre jumping of high buildings working as a stunt man after a few years as a professional freestyle skier going round the world.
I instantly fell in love with theatre and musical and before I knew it I was working full time as an actor, singer, stuntman and later on director, writer, producer.
Music has always been a big part of my life and I have always felt that there is a close bond between music, film and theatre. The first time I entered a theatre stage it was love at first sight. The adrenaline of being in front of a live audience got me hooked right away.
There is also an element in theatre, or any live performance for that matter that is quite unique. It can be the same play you did last week or the same song you sang yesterday but something is different. It can’t be planned or scripted. It’s that unexplainable thing that happens when you put the right people together at the right time. It can be the energy of an audience or the connection between two actors that are finding out just in that moment, what the words they’re speaking actually mean.
That is the essence that I wish to bring into filmmaking. A lot of the most memorable movie scenes of all time have an element of improvisation. The real magic happens when you recognize the strengths of your actors and you give them the right circumstances to excel. Having the right cast is everything. Really good actors can make a bad script fly and bad actors can make a good script crash.
In 2-3 sentences who are you?
I’m an artist, a storyteller and an explorer and by that I mean that I am always looking for knew challenges and ways to evolve. I’m a person who is guided by circumstance. I wouldn’t say that I’m superstitious but I have a strong faith in that life puts us where we need to be.
What motivates you and why do you work creatively?
I think being creative is part of my DNA. I have great respect for everyone who is dedicated to his or her everyday 9 to 5 job but I personally couldn’t do it. I need to pour my heart into something that affects people emotionally, whether it is to make them laugh or cry.
Tell us one memory from your previous work that still to this day inspires you.
I was doing a big show with rock, pop and dance music. Basically all the genres that you know work really well overall to a wide audience. A singer in the cast suggested we should do something different and try a number with Sámi jojk, which is a traditional Swedish native singing technique.
The producers weren’t to keen on the idea but at the time we had this incredible talented modern dancer in the cast and I felt strongly that if we combined the vocals of the singer with her dance we would create something magical that the audience hadn’t seen before. We went with the idea and I was right. This taught me two things. One, that you should listen to people around you because good ideas can come from anywhere and two, that you should always trust your gut instinct and fight for what you believe is right.
What’s Tulpa Creatives for you?
For me Tulpa is the future and great expectations. I feel a great connection with Richard and Simon and I think that we share a vision and a common goal when it comes to what we want to achieve in the film industry. I expect us to change the future of creative filmmaking.
What’s your dream?
To tell stories that touches peoples core and stays with them throughout their lives. More specifically, a dream project would be making a great musical for the movie screen.
How do you see yourself?
I’d like to think that I’m brave. I wouldn’t say that I’m fearless but I always want to try new things or take a new approach to whatever it is I’m doing.
To me it never seems like taking a risk doing things differently. It’s a bigger risk doing things exactly the same as everyone else.
What’s your biggest strength’s/assets?
I think I’m really good with people in general. I’ve always had a passion for bringing out the best in people and making them excel in their element. I think I have a good sense of when people need to be pushed and when they need space or encouragement.
From Blade Runner
Name a few movies and/or TV-series that inspired you a lot in your life.
Twin Peaks, E.T, Blade runner and Legends of the fall.
From Blade Runner
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there?
Trust your instincts and listen to your heart. It sounds like a cliché; in fact it is a cliché, but it’s true. Listen to your inner voice and don’t be impressed by authorities or celebrities. It’s good to have role models and people to look up to and respect, but always trust your own vision.
Which filmmakers have influenced you the most?
David Lynch has created some of the most interesting characters in film. Quentin Tarantino is brilliant when it comes to dialog and visuals in film as well as a very modern way of using film as storytelling. Other favourites are Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Luc Besson, Tim Burton, Joel & Ethan Coen, Clint Eastwood and George Lucas. But the list goes on.
If you got the opportunity to remake a movie or TV-series, which one would you go for?
That’s a hard one. Tribute a masterpiece or remake one I think I would have done better? I think I’ll dodge the bullet and go with the tribute.
My tribute would be Sergio Leone’s The good, the bad & the ugly. It’s old enough so you can expect new technology to make it even better and you get to tell a classic story to a young audience. Of course I would stay true to the movies essence with the original score by Ennio Morricone but in a modern recording.
And If I can dream Clint Eastwood would co-produce and also make a tribute appearance in the movie as well. We probably should do the whole dollar trilogy when I think about it.
Working with a project, is it harder to get started or to keep going?
The start. For me it’s so important to get the foundation of the project really solid and in that process I can ponder for weeks about the basics.
Once I get started there’s no stopping me. As you approach the finish line it’s also hard to let go of the project because you always find something that could have been done better.
That’s why I always have people around me who know how to start and finish!
What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your work?
There is no such thing as a perfect in production. If that is your goal you are setting yourself up for failure. For many years I aspired to make the “perfect” production. It’s an illusion since in theatre and film there is no way to measure how good a movie or a play is. It’s not like math or any other perfect science that can be measured.
That being said this shouldn’t stop you from striving to achieve excellence, which should be your goal no matter what your business is.
Mention one thing you think would make the film/tv/gaming industry better, what would it be?
It’s an industry that is quickly evolving with lots of new mediums. Streaming providers are producing tons of new material and have big resources and there is also the social media, allowing people who want to create movies to reach an audience much easier than before.
With that being said I think what we are missing is an educational system that recognizes that; this is a legit business and that they need to create opportunities for young people to educate themselves in order to have a chance of pursuing a career in the film/TV/gaming industry.