Working within Constraints

I recently saw The Five Obstructions – a documentary that chronicles Danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth’s experience recreating one of his first films, a short called The Perfect Human. Leth creates five new versions of The Perfect Human, each guided by constraints set by Lars Von Trier, another Danish filmmaker.

I absolutely enjoyed watching Leth film under often absurd constraints. Each set of constraints appears difficult to overcome, yet Leth consistently creates original and interesting films. At one point in The Five Obstructions, Leth is allowed to make a modern version of The Perfect Human with no constraints at all. Rather than embrace the lack of constraints, Leth admits that limitlessness is quite daunting; he’d rather have constraints to work with.

We’ve been learning quite a bit about constraints here at the Needmore Studio as well. Our newest creation, Ladybug, is about as bootstrapping and time-constrained as one can get. Sure, there are days like today when the constraints feel downright overwhelming. It is often on an day such as this that we are compelled (by necessity) to make our greatest leaps forward.

I like keep in mind the look on Leth’s face when he heard about his first set of filming constraints (something akin to pure horror). And then I remind myself of the fantastic product of his agonizing work. Here in the studio, we always keep moving forward and are amazed at the progress of our own project and continue to remind ourselves that the constraints are what help to ensure we are ultimately creating something remarkable.

Kandace Brigleb

Producer, co-founder of Needmore. Currently residing on the left coast.