The Idiots Meets Easy Rider

For Adam Nielsen, the main thing in editing "The Wild Hearts" was staying true to the spirit of the material – even if it meant killing a few of his and director Michael Noer’s darlings in the process.

While Adam Nielsen was editing "Vesterbro" last year, the director presented him with the pilot material for his next film, "The Wild Hearts" (2008). Noer himself had somewhat reluctantly been drawn into the project, but any misgivings Nielsen may have had were immediately dispelled when he saw the footage Noer had shot of a youthful moped gang, "The Wild Hearts", trashing a rented holiday cabin over a wild weekend, setting the furniture on fire and branding each other’s naked bodies with a heart-shaped iron.

"... a documentary works best when it follows people who act in the now and don't just talk about something that happened in the past."

"... a documentary works best when it follows people who act in the now and don't just talk about something that happened in the past."

“At the time, there had been a lot of TV shows in the "Jackass" vein that were all about being cruel to each other and laughing about it afterwards,” Nielsen says. “But here was a group of kids who clearly had a great deal of affection for each other and primarily wanted to have a good time together. Also, they were completely unabashed and barely acknowledged the presence of Michael and his camera.”



Born 1974, Denmark. Graduated in editing from the National Film School of Denmark, 2003. Shortly after, started the company Little Machine with fellow editor Peter Brandt. Has edited or co-edited several features, including "Brothers" (Susanne Bier, 2004), "Fidibus" (Hella Joof, 2006), "The Candidate" (Kasper Barfoed, 2008), as well as numerous documentaries, among them "Inside Outside" (Andreas Johnsen & Nis Boye Rasmussen, 2005), "Den sidste dans" (Eva Mulvad og Allan Nagel, 2005), "Enemies of Happiness" (Eva Mulvad, 2006), "Ghosts of Cité Soleil" (Asger Leth, 2006), "Vesterbro" (Michael Noer, 2007), "Good Copy Bad Copy" (Andreas Johnsen, Henrik Moltke & Ralf Christensen, 2007), "Solange on Love" (Tine Katinka Jensen, 2008) and "The Wild Hearts" (Michael Noer, 2008).

“As I see it, a documentary works best when it follows people who act in the now and don’t just talk about something that happened in the past. In the case of the guys in "The Wild Hearts", we obviously wouldn’t have to conjure up any action, since they were obviously so consumed by their own project that all we had to do was tag along,”  Nielsen says.

How did the decision to do a documentary road movie, and relating to an established film genre, affect your editing?

“That actually didn’t come up until a bit later on. When Michael shot the first footage, we had no idea that we’d be going on a moped trip to Poland. But when they told us about their plans, it was obvious to go along and film. As we discussed it, if we could do a kind of blend of "The Idiots" (Lars von Trier, 1998) and "Easy Rider" (Dennis Hopper, 1969), we would be on the right track. Just as in von Trier’s film, our characters are embarking on a project that’s about testing the boundaries,” Nielsen says.

“To answer your question about our thoughts concerning a genre film, we were really more concerned about finding a proper ending to the film. In "Easy Rider "the two leads die at the end, and we knew that probably wasn’t going to happen in our film. However, one of the gang members crashed and suffered a serious injury, which, however grave, was a gift to us in a way, because it allowed us to push things more in the direction of "Together "(Lukas Moodysson, 2000) – that is, the kids choose brotherhood over the actual project,” Nielsen says.

You’ve done music videos and commercials, documentaries and features. What are your criteria for going into a project?

“I’ve been doing fewer music videos and commercials lately, because I’ve been involved in this string of extended processes and it’s been hard to fit other things in. So I’ve been turning down a bunch of assignments,” Nielsen says. “Actually, I usually base my choices on who I like to work with. When you spend most of your time in an editing room, it’s important to be sitting there with someone you can stand being around for the long haul. Fortunately, I have good friends who keep making interesting films, so it’s really pretty easy for me to choose.”

Adam Nielsen foto P. Wessel