Interview with Emilie K. Beck from Documentary Series Stuck
"I'm Emilie K. Beck, 26 year old from a little summer island in Norway. I have done one year of acting school, one year photography and film in Santa Barbara, California and I have A bachelor in Documentary directing from the Norwegian tv-school in Norway. Between school I've always been working on film sets either in front or behind the camera. That is where I wanna be, and that is what I love the most: to create stories, to show the reality of the world and to enlighten people, to make them feel something."
1. How did you get into film?
I have a degree in documentary directing, and since I was fourteen I´ve been acting in commercials and films, so I got used to the camera very young. After studying a year in acting school I found out that I enjoyed more to be behind the camera, and to write and direct my own movies. So I made my first short film with a co-director when I was 20, and that made me start making films. The first film also was a success outside of Norway, specially in the USA, which also was a motivation to keep pursuing to be a film director.
2. How did the idea of STUCK originate?
The director and producer Geir Fredriksen came up with the idea because he also has made documentaries for many years. He knew that it was a very big problem with child brides, and wanted to make a documentary about it.
3. How long did it take for this project to be approved? (produced)
I don't know much about that process cause I came on the last few months of research. But I will guess one or two years before it was made.
4. What were you thinking/feeling on your way to Cambodia? Were you excited, nervous?
I did not know what to expect at all… I thought I was prepared, but you cannot be prepared for that. It was a very intense journey. I was nervous of course. But I think I was even more anxious and nervous , and actually scared when we went to Latin-America. I knew how the last trip affected me, so I was scared to actually face the facts, and the girls behind the statistics.
5. How did you get in contact with the girls?
We cooperate with Plan International, who works in the areas where the girls live. They know the girls ,the issues they’re facing, and are locals. So they could talk to them before we arrived to ask if they wanted to tell their story.
6. What was the hardest episode to film?
Episode 1 from Cambodia when we had to go to the hospital, and episode 2-3 in the new episodes from Haiti, where we are at the police station. But Vietnam, meeting the parents who lost their girl was heartbreaking. I still wonder how they are doing and if she ever came home.
7. What was your favorite episode?
I cannot choose, I think each story gave me something… So many stories, and so many wonderful girls. But someone who really got to me was Chonda from Bangladesh. I talk to her every now and then. Strong and amazing young girl.
8. In season 2, in Brazil, you met with the funk singers. What did it feel like to confront people who think that way?
It was a really uncomfortable episode, just because I felt so naked sitting there. Even though they actually said I was wearing to much clothes… They were bragging, so I can imagine they didn't think about my feelings much. And they also did not know that I heard what they said because someone translated it to me after. People are always more big-mouthed when they think I can't understand.
9. How did you ensure that those being filmed/interviews were honest and told the true story and not a glamorized or changed version due to the action being filmed?
Well… It is all about spending time with the girls and breaking down their walls, and building trust. Some girls wanted to tell their story, but when we showed up with a camera it got more real to them, and they started lying. Those stories we quickly withdrawn also because we saw that the girls weren't ready to tell their stories. I usually tell them stuff about me, who I am and what I like to do, and then we remove the camera for some hours so I can get to know them also for real and not just for the camera. So they understand that it is real, that I do really want to get to know them. Normally it also helps by me making a fool out of my self to make them laugh. Remember, they are fifteen years old, or younger. There's a lot going on in their heads but also they are still children.
10. Do you believe you were sufficiently prepared to face the struggles and toughness you met or do you wish you had prepared differently?
You never know what to expect when you film a documentary. When you are aware of that - you are as ready as you can be. Just have to accept it, and be in the situation. I don't think I could prepare differently. Sometimes I wish I was more brave, and confronted some of them more, and ask more “why” where I know it would probably hurt more. But at the same time they would probably interrupt the interview and break it off because of my scepticism. I just want to get to know their situation and be there to listen. It is not about “them and me”. We are all human and we are equal, so I can't come and tell them what is right or wrong. But bottom line, when a young child is taken away their freedom - its about breaking human rights.
11. How has this experience changed your thinking or lifestyle?
I have a different happiness than before, and I feel like I´m wiser. I know the situation for a lot of girls in the world, and it has changed my life and how I think. I think also that people who have seen the series also will look beyond themselves and think bigger, and wants to stick together to maybe make the world a little bit better.
12. What are you currently doing, has your current work been influenced by your experience from STUCK?
Right now I am taking a break from documentary, just to rest my heart a little bit. It really tears you up mentally to make documentaries like that. So I'm working on a drama series for a few months now. But this year I'm making a documentary about adoption and belonging, about a girl who was adopted from Sri Lanka to Norway and found her mom twelve years later in the slums of Colombo. We follow her for a year now, there and in Norway.
13. What are your hopes for the future? Aims, projects, goals?
I hope we can make more Stuck, if the production allows it. I feel like girls rights is what my heart tells me to keep making movies and series about. I want to make films and series that will make people act different after they’ve seen it. That’s the magic about storytelling. It can change, enlighten, give knowledge, make you laugh - or cry. I love that I can be able to touch people’s hearts.
14. Lastly, what advice do you have for girls around the world who are STUCK?
Oh wow… Stick together, be brave, you are not alone, speak up and never give up. You have sisters all around the world who fights with you and are on your side.
And if someone wants to talk more about this they can find me on Instagram. I will always reply. (@emiliekbeck)
Watch series here: