Trace preview

trace-posterFor the first time in decades, Norway has produced a Viking movie. Trace is a short film made as a University project with limited funds, but still aiming for the epic.

Unless you count the fantasy-mystery movie The Veil of Twilight (2014) or Pathfinder (1987) as Viking films – you’d have to stretch the definition quite hard to make that argument – Norway has not produced a Viking movie since 1985’s Trees grow on stones too. And that was a Russian co-production. Not even the major upcoming feature The Last King (2016) is about Vikings in the traditional sense. It took a University student to produce Norway’s first Viking film in a long time, so maybe it is symptomatic that the film is “only” a 36 minute short film. Trace is director Markus Dahlslett’s Master’s Degree project, and it will have its festival premiere in March.

Set in the historical Viking age, it tells the story of Baldr, an explorer who has travelled far and wide. He has aquired knowledge that can help his people make a better future. Now he must escape Gorm and his vicious clan, who seek to destroy all that can challenge their view of the world. -The most important theme in the movie is about knowledge, and preserving information so it can be handed over to the next generation, Markus Dahlslett said to trd.by

Two years in the making, and involving 80 people, the film is made on a small budget and with the help of volunteers. Markus Dahlslett wrote, produced and directed the movie, and one would think that making a Viking movie under such circumstances would be difficult. -It grew to a quite big production [but] we have spectacular nature just outside our doors and I wanted to use the local resources we have, the director explained. He lended weapons from the local Viking reenactment group, which also trained the cast for on-screen action. Costumes were taken from a historical outdoor stage play, while the crew made many of the props themselves.

The film offers a fictional story but aims for authenticity through costumes, props and locations, which meant that choosing Stiklestad, not far from Trondheim (where the director studied film and video prodiction) as one of 15 filming areas was a natural choice. The battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where King Olaf Haraldsson was killed, is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway.

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Authenticity was also the reason for choosing to use Norse language in all lines and dialogue. This is a rare occurence in Nordic films, including Viking films, but Dahlslett managed to get a professor of old Norse to translate spoken words to the dead language. -[The film] would probably not be as convincing if the characters had spoken [modern Norwegian] or our local dialect, Dahlslett said.

He hopes that the film will be distributed to short film festivals around the world, although a shorter edit may have to be made to qualify. TV series such as The last kingdom and Vikings have hopefully paved the way for a Viking short film – and dare we hope for a feature version, should money men like what they see?

Starring Simen Stokke, Audun Bartnes, Ole Fredrik Wannebo, Jonas M. Larsen, Susanne Olavsdottir Ingdal, Caroline Fredriksen, Ørjan Trotland, Robert Rasmussen, Trace premieres at the Kosmorama festival in Trondheim, Norway, held between 8th and 13th March.

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Kung Fury preview

Premiering tomorrow on Swedish television and El Rey Network is Kung Fury, the over-the-top retro-cheesy 80s throwback actioner that features Adolf Hitler, Vikings, Thor, dinosaurs and David Hasselhoff.

Written and directed by David Sandberg, Kung Fury is a 30 minute action comedy, with plenty of fantasy overtones and sci-fi concepts, created as an homage to 1980s action and martial arts films. The 630.000 dollar film was initially intended to be a one million dollar feature, as the crowdfunding campaign exceeded the initial 200.000 dollar goal, but the final version runs 30 minutes, and will debut publicly on May 28th.

The plot revolves around Miami police detective and martial artist Kung Fury who timetravels from the 1980s to World War 2 to kill Adolf Hitler, aka “Kung Führer”, to avenge his friend, who was killed by the Nazi leader. An error in the time machine sends him further back to the Viking Age. With the help of a female Viking and the Norse god Thor, Kung Fury continues his time travels in order to put an end to the Third Reich once and for all.

The film’s hyped trailer, which feels like a pumped version of the Norwegian retro action comedy Norwegian Ninja, presents Kung Fury as inspired by 80s TV shows such as Automan and Street Hawk, and films like Karate Kid, Tronand Die Hard. Both the trailer and the official music video, starring Knight Rider and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff, have been huge viral hits with over 10 million views each on Youtube. Fan reactions have been massive, with comments like “Kung Fury will be the best movie ever produced”, “these guys need to direct, like, all movies” and “totally crushing on the wolf lady with the Gatling gun”. Others said “this was made in 2015 and captures every goddamn thing about the 80s” and “Jurassic Park meets Karate Kid meets Mad Maxmeets Transformers meets Conan meets Inglorious Basterds meetsCannonball Run” which describe the feeling of at least the video and the trailer, if not the movie itself; genre mash-ups galore, with no boundaries respected. The idea to get 80s TV icon David Hasselhoff onboard came when Sandberg decided the project needed new energy. He asked The Hoff’s agent if David could take a look at the trailer, which he loved. Hasselhoff flew in to Sweden to shoot the video, with music by Mitch Murder, a synth band labelled as “Sweden’s Jan Hammer”. -The 80s was about fun, action, and heroes. Kung Fury has it all! I’m honored to be involved with [director] David Sandberg, an up-and-coming force of nature in the animation digital entertainment world. The song is perfect for me as I really am, in real life, a True Survivor,said David Hasselhoff about his participation.

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David Hasselhoff is however not the only celebrity to appear in the film. Body builder Andreas Cahling plays Thor, and comedians Magnus Betnér and Björn Gustafsson play Nazis. Betnér is also one of the movie’s backers. -Björn and I play two guards outside Hitler’s bunker. We spoke in Swedish but they added German in post-production. It was a bit bizarre to wear a Nazi uniform, but what doesn’t one do for the art, Betner said to Swedish Radio. Jorma Taccone from the hit TV series Girls plays another Nazi; the main man himself, Adolf. The Fuhrer was originally going to be a 3D animation, but as the project grew and Hitler’s part got bigger, it would be too expensive to create a digital Hitler. The film’s producer, Linus Andersson, said to SVT’s TV Heads podcast:-[We decided] that it would either have to be someone who looked exactly like Hitler, or we’d have to do a parody. Jorma’s name came up early in the brainstorming process. He said yes immediately after reading the script.

Simon Faber, the agent who took David Sandberg under his wings after watching the film’s trailer, said to Fastcocreate.com that “the director’s brilliance was making such an elaborate — and original — teaser [that] showcased not only Sandberg’s talent, but proved that there were enough story elements and characters in Kung Fury for a film. When you watch the trailer, you see a movie in it. It’s that legit.”

David Sandberg (29) is a Swedish commercials and music video director. In 2012, he quit his dayjob to focus on writing a script for an action comedy film set in the 1980s. Sandberg initially spent 5,000 dollars on producing and shooting footage, most of which became the first trailer. In December 2013, Sandberg opened a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund the production of the film, after having reached the point where doing it all by himself was not possible. He had to sell his couch and TV to afford food and rent, but within 24 hours, the Kickstarter campaign had reached 200.000 dollars. Eventually, more than 17.000 backers joined the funding campaign.-People started calling. I freaked out. Hollywood was calling. Agents. Managers. It was crazy. I basically didn’t sleep for a week because of the adrenaline rush, Sandberg said to Fastcocreate.com

Sandberg shot the majority of the film, which was post-produced to intentionally look grainy like an 80s VHS video, at his office in Umeå, Sweden, using a Canon EOS 5D and a Sony FS700 for the raw footage. Digital effects and greenscreens were extensively used. As Sandberg could only afford one police uniform, he filmed the police precinct scene by shooting each extra separately and compositing them in the scene. Now, a feature version is being planned, with the support of Hollywood producers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies), as well as a Kung Fury clothing line, graphic novel and merchandise.

Starring David Sandberg, Joanna Häggblom, Leopold Nilsson, Andreas Cahling, Henrik Arvidius, Magnus Betnér, Björn Gustafsson, Adrian Ciprian.

Kung Fury made its formal debut at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival this spring, and will premiere widely on YouTube (for free viewing), public broadcaster SVT2 in Sweden, and Robert Rodriguez’ El Rey network in the US on May 28th, 2015. Reruns on SVT2 and SVT24 on May 30th.

Trailer:

Music video: