Aleksander Nordaas is the writer/director of the film “Thale”. The film is based off the Norwegian folklore myth, huldra. The film is being released on Blu-ray and DVD on April 23rd. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Aleksander about the film and what we can expect next.
Mike Gencarelli: What made you want to make a film about the folklore myth, huldra?
Aleksander Nordaas: As a Norwegian film maker, I’ve always wanted to do a film based in our rich folklore. And my favorite being amongst all the weird creatures that make up our folklore has always been the huldra. She’s the most diverse being of them all as she’s close in appearance and behavior to humans, which means there are a lot of strings to play on developing her as a character. So the idea basically started with this particular creature, which I then put into my own, modern folklore story.
MG: How did you end up casting Silje Reinamo as Thale?
Growing up in the same city (Mosjøen), I’ve known Silje since childhood. But it wasn’t until 2008 that we first worked together, on a short film titled “In Chambers” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j8zhTiBIhQ). Concerning “Thale”, the role as Thale was actually written for Silje, as I already knew she had the talent, skills and looks for the role – but maybe more important, she had the guts to do it. As I guess everyone can imagine, it wasn’t the easiest role to play, relying solely on body language to portray this character, and in addition; nude while doing so. But me and Silje went through the film shot by shot, to make sure the nudity wouldn’t take focus away from what we wanted to tell – we wanted to use it as a tool for character build-up, not anything else.
MG: Tell us about the many hats that you handled on the film and what was the most challenging?
AN: The most challenging aspect was without doubt that there was never a guarantee that the film was going to get completed. We started off shooting without any funding in place – only a couple of plane tickets. Basically, we built the film brick by brick whenever we had time to get together, so the whole process, production and post, went on for nearly three years. And this uncertainty was constantly in the back of our heads throughout the whole production – what if this is all for nothing? As we decided to do this film the way we did, I knew I’d have the work cut out for me. With being responsible for everything from directing to building the sets, the workload took its toll from time to time, but at the same time I had 100% creative freedom. And that’s priceless, especially as this was my first international feature. I got to learn from every hat I put on, which undoubtedly is going to be useful going into my next productions, understanding the different functions and aspects a whole lot better.
MG: Was it difficult to blend the fantasy and horror genre for the film?
AN: I consider story development to be more of a gut feeling on my part, rather than following a specific genre, defined suspension curve and so on. I tend to write where the story takes me – to add what I feel fits together one way or the other. So I guess the blend came kind of natural, but yes – there was absolutely more than one draft of the script.
MG: The film is very well-shot and packs some sharp visual effects; talk to us about that aspect?
AN: First of all, thanks you so much! Even though the film was made this way, I didn’t want it to look like it was. So I put as much time and effort as I possibly could into the visuals, everything from a making thorough shotlists, to hours at the dump site looking for cool props, to extensive tests with different light bulbs. But CGI and effects proved the biggest challenge – as I hadn’t done much of it before. But with great help from Storm Studios, we got there eventually!
MG: What do you have planned next?
AN: Gladly, “Thale” has opened several doors for me, Bendik (producer) and for our production company Yesbox Productions, so we’re in a pretty different situation now than for only a couple of years ago. This means that the projects we’ve been juggling around suddenly now have caught fire. So with a handful of projects burning at the same time, I’m currently not sure which one – or two – will surface first. But if anyone would like to stay updated on my projects, I’m posting news as soon as I can on my site (www.aleksandernordaas.com) and facebook (www.facebook.com/aleksander.l.nordaas).