LIMITING DECISIONS

When asked about the secret of his success and long career, actor Michael Caine answered: “I have a policy.  I never listen to anyone explain why they can’t do something.  I don’t want to be convinced by them.”

How often do you encounter people with such negativity that it influences you?  Have you ever been driving with someone who said, “We’ll never find a parking spot”?  Next time that happens, turn to them and ask, “How do you know?”  Sometimes people decide things that limit them without even thinking.  And in that limiting decision, they have created a negative energy that surrounds them—and you.

On a movie set, when someone shouts “it’ll never work” or “we don’t have enough time” just tell them to leave the room.  There’s no reason to be in that kind of environment.  I like to think, “there’s always a way to make anything work” and “there’s plenty of time.”  One just needs to be creative.  And it’s super difficult to be creative when you’re making a limiting decision about something.

I taught one of my consulting clients about how he could make a short film.  Months later, I learned that he had indeed made his short, and that the film was accepted to screen at the Cannes Film Festival.  Isn’t that wonderful!  I’m fairly certain he didn’t make any limiting decisions along the way.

If you’re a worry wart and are often creating difficult situations even more difficult, it might be hard to grasp this idea.  But, it would be really beneficial to never operate with any limiting decisions.  Try removing the following words from your daily dialogue: can’t, won’t, never, don’t.  It’s a really fun exercise.  My favorite was going a whole week without saying the word DON’T.  Instead of telling someone what you don’t want, you’ll find it is always easier to tell someone what you DO want.

The subconscious mind cannot process negatives.  Don’t picture a blue tree.

What did you picture?  A blue tree!  And even if you immediately changed the color of the tree, you pictured a blue tree even when I told you not to.  Don’t imagine a baby crying.  Don’t imagine a birthday cake.  Don’t imagine an orange rose.  More of the same.  Whoever decided the billboard should say “Don’t drink and drive” is an idiot.  It should read “Find a sober driver.”

Anyway, when it comes to communication—whether on a film set, within the binds of a screenplay, or in ordinary day-to-day life—think about what you’re saying.  Are you telling people what you WANT?  Or are you telling them what you don’t want?

The adventure to Fäviken

Our whirlwind trek to Fäviken Magasinet isn’t about filmmaking, per se, but it had a sensory impact on me that will influence anything I make from now on.

Getting there is half of it.  Fäviken is in the middle of nowhere.  The depths of Sweden.  Like my home in Wamego, Kansas.

We were in London for the premiere of my film CULTURE SHOCK at the Raindance Film Festival.  The morning after the screening, my partner and I flew to Stockholm and changed planes to fly an hour north to Östersund, near the Arctic Circle.  Then we rented a car and drove another 90 minutes deep into Sweden towards Norway.

The drive in autumn is gorgeous.  Vibrant oranges, cutting yellows and boiling reds.

When you arrive at Fäviken there is no sign to tell you where to park, where to check in, or what to do.  Only 20,000 acres of forests and wild grasses, several buildings and a sense you have arrived.  Somewhere.  Somehow.  And, now.

You’ll knock at all the doors, like we did, and hear no answer.  Until you make your way to the big barn and simply walk in, hoping to find anyone.

And there they were to show us to our room.  You don’t have to stay at Fäviken, but I’d advise it as there is nowhere left to go.  And the accommodations are better than 4 star, except the shared bathroom down the hall (of which there are three, so although shared, they are located just outside of your sleeping chambers).  I know there were other people staying there, but never once did I see anyone when using the loo or shower.

Once settled, we went to the main room downstairs.  For champagne.

After all guests arrived (the dining room seats only 16 people per night) we were gathered in the lodge with fireplace swelling.

Here is a report, course by course, of the experience.

Amuse Bouche: Linseed crisps with blue shell mussels dip

Amuse Bouche #2: Just-made fresh cheese served in warm whey and lavender.

Fäviken amuse bouche

Amuse Bouche #3: Wild trout roe served in a warm crust of dried pigsblood pastry.

Fäviken roe and dried pigsblood

Amuse Bouche #4: Pigs head dipped and fried, topped with gooseberry and spruce salt.

Fäviken amuse bouche

Amuse Bouche #5: Crisped lichens with fermented garlic cream.

Fäviken lichens

Amuse Bouche #6: Cured pork belly.

Fäviken pork belly

After the parade of Amuse Bouche to prepare our palates, we were ushered upstairs into the rustic dining room.

dining room at Fäviken

I didn’t photograph every wine pairing, but this Mead is made at Fäviken and was delicious.

Mead at Fäviken

The fresh baked wheat sourdough.

The best butter you’ve ever tasted.

Fäviken butter

Then, the procession of main courses began.

Scallops from Hitra island served over juniper embers:

Fäviken scallop course

Scallop in shell with juice:

Fäviken

Poached trout with shallot:

Fäviken trout with shallot

Monkfish with kale cooked for 20 seconds and some kind of spruce sauce:

Fäviken monkfish and kale

Blue shell mussel with pea flower:

Fäviken mussel with pea flower

Turnips harvested while we ate, buried in autumn leaves:

Fäviken turnips in autumn leavesFäviken turnips with butter

Cauliflower in mushroom thing, mead cream and salted cod row:

Fäviken cauliflower

Then, Chef Magnus Nilsson came up the stairs carrying a large cow bone with his Sous Chef.  They put the bone on a stand between the tables and began to saw it ferociously.  You’d be able to see it better if it weren’t for the annoying Frenchman who felt he needed to stand over it to take a photo.

Fäviken and the annoying frenchman

Then, the Chef scooped out the fresh marrow and prepared a dish of raw heart and flowers, with the fresh marrow on top.  It was meant to eat with the bread.  Surprisingly it was delicious.

Fäviken raw heartFäviken raw

Then came the Goose with fresh lingen berry:

Fäviken goose with ligenberry

Black radish with reduced whey and cows milk cheese:

Fäviken radish

Wild raspberry ice and water soaked lingen berries with cream:

Fäviken raspberry ice

Frozen yolk over pine tree bark cookie.  Ice cream with field weeds:

Fäviken dessertFäviken ice cream in field weeds

Raspberry compote, duck egg, milk sorbet:

Fäviken delicious

Then, we were sent downstairs for wild herbs tea near the fireplace:

Fäviken wild herbs tea

And house-made wild herbs liquor and black currant liquor:

Fäviken Fäviken

And a finale of sunflower seeds, birch sap, dried reindeer meat:

Fäviken

Then, it was up to our room at the inn for bed.

Breakfast the next morning was equally brilliant.  House-cured ham, preserved trout, cheese, fresh eggs (we had ours scrambled):

Fäviken breakfastFäviken

Chef Magnus Nilsson worked in Paris before returning to Sweden to reinvent eating.  That’s right.  He has reinvented the idea of sitting down to dinner.  A new Viking legend, combining what we could forage for on the forest floor, and carve up to sustain life in Scandinavia.  And he’s done it better than any Michelin starred restaurant in Paris.  He’s done it because it’s natural.  It’s in his blood.  Like my films are to me, and the way I go about making them.  It’s what we have to do.  And what we most enjoy.