Petter Ringbom never imagined he would be able to make films for a living, but things often never happen the way we plan them.
Growing up in a small town in Sweden, there wasn’t anyone who produced films. It was a very remote enterprise to Ringbom, as if it were something that other people did, far away out in Hollywood.
“It wasn’t until I was in my 30s when I was already in the middle of a successful career as a designer, that I realized that could actually make it my profession,” Ringbom said. “I took film classes in art school and I always had a serious interest in film, it just didn’t feel attainable.”
About seven years ago, Ringbom started making music videos and working on commercial projects.
“I ran a graphic design firm here in New York for a long time,” Ringbom said. “So my transition into filmmaking was a pretty slow process.”
He completed his first feature documentary in 2012, and is now working on his first feature length fiction film.
According to Ringbom, he had two life changing moments while watching films.
“The first was when I was 12 years old and watched Lasse Hallström’s, ‘My Life as a Dog’. I remember feeling like that film was about me, like my own personal story,” Ringbom said. “The second was Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’ that I watched at 25. That film completely knocked me out, it hypnotized me. I don’t think I’ll ever have that kind of cinematic experience again.”
In 2012, Ringbom met Xander “Gazelle” Ferreira at Tribeca Film Festival. He’s one of the South African artists in Ringbom’s film “Shield and Spear.”
The two became fast friends and started talking about South Africa’s contemporary art and music.
“He was the trigger for the whole project, and my entry into the whole scene,” Ringbom said.
Another huge influence in Ringbom’s life was an unlikely one.
“You probably wouldn’t guess it looking at my films, but Terrence Malick is my biggest influence,” Ringbom said. “I also like Jane Campion’s work, and a bunch of other filmmakers. I tend to gravitate towards directors who are visually driven.”
Ringbom’s influence for “Shield and Spear” was a documentary called Detropia.
“It showed me that it’s possible to make a collage-like portrait of a place, using multiple story lines, and still have it be emotionally engaging,” Ringbom said.
Ringbom is very proud of his work and hopes that people can see how connected and similar we are across the globe.
“I hope that people find both the film and its subjects inspiring,” Ringbom said. “Documentaries often work as an introduction into a subject, and an invitation to learn more, I hope that’s also the case with “‘Shield and Spear’.”
While at ETSU, Ringbom will be visiting a film class as well as showing the film and doing a Q&A in the Culp Auditorium.
According to Ringbom, the most rewarding aspect of what Ringbom does is without a doubt the process of making his films.
“I like every part of it, from writing and planning, to shooting and editing,” Ringbom said. “I consider it a luxury to work with what I love.”