Sweat is a new film by Partizan director Thomas Hilland. A documentary following Timo – a professional Sauna championship contestant (a sauna-er?) that looks like an absolute belter. The trailer was enough to make me want to track down the director to find out how his camera withstood the heat, and if it was actually all true…
Hi Thomas, right we all want to know if Sweat is fact or fiction, are there real sauna championships?
It is 100% fact – everything is done strict documentary-style. Finland is something else! Nothing is rehearsed of scripted in advance.
What was your feeling towards the people competing?
I couldn’t help admiring the stamina and dedication. These guys were tough veterans. No youngsters could measure up and also the fact that there has never been a non-Fin in the finals are pretty amazing. This was proudly pointed out to me by the competitions organiser.
How long did it take to film, did you try out any of the saunas yourself?
It took three days – straight from the airport we went to our main man Timo’s house, and then we went to a small town further North where the sauna competitions took place over two days. I tried out the smoke sauna with Timo once we’d finished our shot there. I think I lasted about five minutes – the heat was unbelievable. Timo stayed…
What was Timo’s job aside from being a Sauna champion? Does it pay the bills?
He is a metal worker, the sauna thing is on his spare time.
Did the heat effect the camera when you were in the sauna?
I checked the manual, it said ‘do not expose the camera for heat above 60 degrees centigrade.’ So we went over the limit with an extra 80 degrees! Don’t tell the rental house. It didn’t malfunction – but we went in and out pretty regularly to give it some fresh air and cool it down. And not least cool ourselves down.
How long do you think you could last in a sauna?
In the proper competition sauna? I’d say maybe two minutes. Max. On a good day.
You’ve done loads of great work, which is all pretty diverse – what’s next on the agenda?
Next up are some commercials for Pokerstars and a job for Swedish creative shop Acne. And I’m in the middle of shooting another short fictional film which is all happening in the Norwegian arctic. Nice and cool after Sweat.