For you only. I give you ZMD. Zakariassen Must Die from 2011, that is. The best movie you will see this life.

For everyone only, actually.


Happy New!

Happy New Year, folks!

I hope everyone can feel the same excitement I feel; WE HAVE GOTTEN OURSELVES A WHOLE NEW YEAR. I mean, it’s 2013 now. (We never had 2013 before, this is the first time!)

New possibilities, new resolutions, new revolutions. I really look forward to this year. 2013 could be crucial for my feature film project. I finished the 2nd draft on the 20th of December, and my producers are reading and making plans for it as we speak. The next months, we need to get distinctly closer to going into production. The 2nd draft of the screenplay is oceans better than the 1st draft, so I’m an optimist. Always an optimist, that’s my force and my curse. Though, it’s not realistic that we start shooting this film until 2014.

Tonight I’m attending Blått lerret at Parkteatret to get inspired by my skillful director colleagues Arild Østin Ommundsen, Rune Denstad Langlo, and Øystein Karlsen. See you there?

More to come. Love.

Back from the dead


I’m back. It’s been almost one and a half year now, since I was on here. Of course, that’s quite outrageous. On the other hand, there is an explanation to this.

In short — the feature project I’m doing with Zentropa was really trembling for months, from summer 2011 on, due to the financial turbulence following the shooting of “Into The White”. I lost my producer shortly after, and for several months I was without a producer. Zentropa Productions in Denmark was still behind me though, but without a producer in Norway I could not do much.

In the end of 2011, Mr Petter Borgli joined the project as producer. I’m very happy with that. Also, FilmCamp supported the development of the project, making us able to activate the previous development funding from the Media Programme. Early 2012, I wrote a new first draft of 118 pages. In the spring we hired Danish script doctor Per Nielsen to help me out break down the first draft and make a new step outline. An absolutely brilliant man, Per. Then, in the summer, a had a child. That makes it four. Beat that.

These days, I’m finishing off my second draft, and hopefully we are back on track in no time.

Never give up, folks. When it is heartfelt and you really want it to happen. Don’t let shit beat you. Do never give up. Ever.

More later. See you.

YouTube Bonus Day: PARAT (2009)

Day 4 out of 3.

Say again?

Okay, so here comes yet another short film. This time around it’s PARAT from 2009!

Showing this to you by courtesy of Sweet Films AS, the film’s production company. The English title of the film is ALL SET.

This is a black comedy/dramedy about a man in his fifties who is dead sure he’s going to die anytime now. It’s kind of complex with different layers of storytelling and not so much a distinction between them. First and foremost this is a sincere emotional story about a man who’s lost his way in life. But I’m very seldom able to resist squeezing humor out of tragedy. I also wanted to play with formalism and mess around with using a narrator. Well, I won’t say more for now. I guess you’ll have to watch it and love or hate it to understand.

I planned doing PARAT for almost three years. In the end, Sweet Films and I succeeded in getting in a total of 1.15million NOK of grants from the Norwegian Film Institute, North Norwegian Film Centre, and FilmCamp. Which allowed me to work concentrated and follow my vision, and to attach a DP and production designer early, to do very well-organized locations scouts, and spend time on costumes and casting. Luckily, I was able to hire the very best of actors.

My main character is played by John Sigurd “Sigga” Kristensen, and he’s teamed up by brilliant actors Anne Krigsvoll, Per Kjerstad, Kjersti Botn Sandal, Magne Lindholm, Hege Aga Edelsteen, Espen Renø Svendsen & Arne Skog. Director of Photography: Trond Tønder. Production design: Dagny Drage Kleiva. Editing: Lars Apneseth. Costume design: Nina Erdahl. Sound design: Alexander Bellizia. Composer: Erik Stifjell. First Assistant Director: Wenche Viktorsdatter Paulsen. Produced by Joachim Lyng at Sweet Films, Tromsø. AND Script Supervisor: Frode Eilertsen. And Makeup Artist: Elisabeth Haugan. And Rune Hansen & Kolbjørn Lyslo recording sound. AND Steadycam Operator: Torkel Riise Svenson. And more & more. It’s an awesome cast and crew and I love them all.

The film is shot in its entirety at FilmCamp in Troms County, on several different locations in Målselv and Bardu municipalities in May 2008. It’s shot on Super16mm. Doing the whole production at FilmCamp was an absolute joy. We were a big crew, quite a few actors and many extras. We stayed there for a week while shooting and we became friends forever. The whole time was like a dream.

Have fun!

Norwegian Film Institute’s website
FilmCamp’s website
Sweet Films AS

YouTube mayhem – part 3

Day 3 out of 3.

Ladies and germs, I present to you my short film, the one and only — SØPLA (aka THE GARBAGE) from 2009.

Another black comedy I give to you today. A simple and brutal story of a garbage man who gets in trouble when collecting garbage outside some stinky rich couple’s villa.

Shot on the RED at Lysaker and in central Oslo in early April 2008, I believe this was one of the first ever fiction films to be shot on the RED format in Norway. (Please prove me wrong!) That was in fact a fortune for this production. Having a cash budget of only 75.000 NOK, granted from the North Norwegian Film Centre (I didn’t apply for more than that) — I asked the newly established RED-rental company Dfilm AS and Norsk Filmstudio (now Storyline Studios) to invest in the film by lending us all of the camera and light equipment free of charge, in order for them to test this new camera/format and its workflow. And they did. So, a cheers and big thanks to them.

The main character is played by Joachim Rafaelsen, the other actors are Håkon Ramstad, Kim Sørensen and Hege Aga Edelsteen. Director of Photography was Trond Tønder, the man who shot my first short film back i 2000. Sound editing is by Rune Baggerud, and my production manager was Isak Eymundsson — I could never have made this film without him. The song in the film is performed by Belgian indie rock band dEUS. I edited it and produced it through Retriever Film.

We shot this film during one weekend. I’m sort of proud of that. It’s the low-budget way. Most of the crew are good friends of mine, like Martin J. Edelsteen (1st ass’t camera on this film), John-Erling H. Fredriksen (gaffer), and Signe Gerda Landfald (set dresser). We didn’t get paid doing this film. Even the actors are good friends of mine, and they agreed to do it almost unpaid. I paid the rest of the crew though, the one’s I didn’t know so well from before. But all gave discounts. And we had Espen Zubi doing grip, and Tyrone C. Wiggins on stunts. Brilliant craftsmen and nice dudes.

SØPLA was sold to CANAL+ France and to Norwegian TV2, and it’s been in competition at a few international film festivals — like Brest, Circuito Off (Venice), and Interfilm. The NFI handles festivals and French company Premium Films is international sales agent.

I did this film in between other projects. I had already got funding for a much bigger project, PARAT in January 2008, but I had to wait almost five months for the snow to disappear up north before I could start shooting that one. So, I made SØPLA, which is a project full of creative surplus and this easiness. The short shooting, the small budget, the tiny production offices (at Retriever Film/ Film HQ; now they are a bit bigger), and the perfect mix of hired professionals & close friends within cast and crew — gave this production a very strong indie-feel. And that feel fitted well with the tone and look I wanted for the film. Very inspired by Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch, this one. It’s wide shots, it’s kinda slow, it’s deadpan, it’s dark-humored.

I really hope you enjoy it.

(PS. Watch out tomorrow….)

Holy crap, I’m on YouTube – part 2

Day 2 out of 3.

Now, time has come for my short ZOOM DE TEMPS from 2008.

In this film you meet a woman who is pulling a time machine through a vast uninhabited landscape. Go figure.

This is by far the strangest film I’ve made. But if you’re in the right mood, it’s a mysterious, creepy and powerful little art house short film that I’m quite proud of. Shot on Super16mm in Rekvik (Kvaløya, Norway) during four days in August 2007, Zoom de Temps was the first film I ever shot on celluloid and that had a “respectable” budget (approx 350.000 NOK). It’s probably the short film I’ve done that is most in its natural habitat when experienced in a cinema theater with Dolby surround. This baby is pure Cinema.

Cast is Hege Aga Edelsteen and Håkon Mathias Vassvik, DP is Martin J. Edelsteen, sound is designed by Are Stifjell, and the score is composed by Erik Stifjell. (Yes, they are brothers.) I wrote, directed, edited and produced this one.

Zoom de Temps didn’t get as wide a festival distribution as Hopp, but it became a hit at the NFI’s short film promotion dept. They really believed in it. The film never made it to any of the bigger film festivals, though it got very close to getting selected for competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. It was in there until the very, very last round of selection. But as we all know, ALMOST is not enough to get into the history books — it’s rather a good anecdote for me to tell my grandkids…

This film was the first 100% Retriever Film production, and before this I’d never carried the “burden” of actually having a cash budget. It received a production grant from The North Norwegian Film Centre and a post-production grant from the NFI. A big thanks goes to the mentioned for believing in the project, even though it is quite experimental and despite the fact that I rejected writing out a full screenplay. I just wrote sort of a short treatment because I wanted to be more open to spontaneity and potential magic inside the material while shooting the film. Hey! That sounds like a pretentious load of horseshit, I know, but believe me — it was actually a very rewarding experiment. Been there, done that.

Once again, you’ll find yet another short on here tomorrow. All lips are sealed until then.

Hope you like it. Enjoy!

Holy crap, I’m on YouTube.

It’s alive!!

Finally I have gotten to the point where I will breath life into my YouTube account, by uploading some of my short films from previous years. This week is YouTube Premiere Week of my one man company Retriever Film’s YouTube channel. Today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow I’m uploading films. One short a day.

First off: HOPP from 2005 (English festival title: Leap). The film has English subtitles. The technical quality is so-so; it was shot on a Panasonic MiniDV camera and the movie file has been converted more than once throughout the years. But what the hell.

It’s a close-to-no-budget black comedy about suicide. Nothing less. Cast is Øystein Martinsen, Hege Aga Edelsteen, Arne Skog & Kristine Henriksen. The screenplay is written by Per Vaage, DP is Martin J. Edelsteen, edited by Terje André Nymark, sound design by Are Stifjell, and music by Arnar Vågen & Syvert Holbek Feed from Norwegian rock band Jake Ziah.

HOPP made it quite well on the film festival circuit being a no-budget film. Actually, it was the first film I directed that made it to an international film festival. After a 6-month film festival drought following screenings at Tromsø International Film Festival and Minimalen Short Film Festival, I went ahead and submitted the film to several festivals outside Norway. I got lucky. The first competition screening was at Interfilm in Berlin on November 1st 2005. I wasn’t able to be present, but I later learned that HOPP was the opening film of the whole festival. Shortly after, it was in competition at Mannheim-Heidelberg. I mean, this was a big moment in my career. After that, The Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) got interested in this film and in me as director.

Since then, HOPP travelled to other festivals and won a couple of awards, and the NFI has represented most of my short films ever since.

HOPP was produced by Paraplyen, an idealistic film production entity that existed in Tromsø 2002-2006. It was like an alliance of film workers — consisting of directors, editors, DPs, actors, composers, stunt coordiators, etc. I can’t express how big an influence my time at Paraplyen has had on me, it really meant a lot for me — and, I’m sure, for a lot of other film professionals today who were a part of Paraplyen during that period.

HOPP was shot on location in Tromsø, Sommarøya and Kvaløya in Norway during three long days (and one night) in August 2004. We had almost no cash budget, just pure idealism and rabid enthusiasm. And humongous ambitions. Those were the days…

So, check it out. There’s more to come the next couple of days as well.


1st draft complete & funding underway

Howdy. So what’s up!

On April 8th the 1st draft of “I Could Have Walked Home Blindfolded” was completed. It’s 150 pages long. So, like I wrote before on here, there’s still loads of work to be done. But the 1st draft is through and that’s wonderful. It’s been like giving birth. (Okay, even I know it’s not like giving birth.)

My script consultant Megan Gallagher and I met up on April 27th in Oslo. She had prepared well and gave me a thorough coverage of my 1st draft. On our meeting we agreed upon a plan to shorten down the next draft and to make it even better. To be honest with you, I believe that the 2nd draft will be 10 times better than the 1st. And I was quite happy with the 1st one. Not bragging here, just being honest. First of all, there is lots of potential in Joachim Førsund’s original story that I’ve not been able to let loose yet. And I tell you, Megan is a brilliant consultant. She’s like an x-ray that reveals everything that’s not working the way it could. I’m an optimist on behalf of the upcoming script development. And I promise you, this will be a great script and an amazing film. 🙂

In the meantime the project has been granted its first piece of external funding, that is €37000 worth of funding under the Media Programme’s development scheme. Hooray.
(our project is #82 on the press release list)

On May 24th I went to Lisbon to see American indie rock band The National live at Campo Pequeno, and to meet up with the band. The Dessner twins of the band, Aaron and Bryce, are interested in making music for “I Could Have Walked Home Blindfolded”, and so am I. Who wouldn’t be. Nothing’s official yet, but let’s hope we can work something out. Their music would be a perfect match for this story, with its dark melancholic atmosphere.

See you next time.

Inside the screenwriting bubble


I’ve been away for so long! I’m sorry! It’s outrageous! It won’t happen again! Shut it. No one’s missed you.

Just popping by to say hi, I am alive. Lately, this blog has been like that guy who goes into standby mode in Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ”, he’s suddenly just standing there like a stuffed person when Jude Law’s character is trying to speak to him. Eerie.

The standby mode guy. There you go.

Recent two months I’ve been working intensively on my first ever 1st draft screenplay for a feature film. So intensively, that everytime I’ve thought of blogging inbetween screenwriting lately, my head has been empty and invert and I’ve had nothing interesting to blog about. Not a thing. (Oh it’s your personality, you’d say.)

The 1st draft of “I Could Have Walked Home Blindfolded” is now only a few pages from being completed. That means I will still have to stay on target for 2-3 days. The 1st draft will be massive, way too long, so there’s a lot of work to be done from 2nd draft on…

Though, next week I will be back on here. Then it’s time to let you guys into my screenwriting bubble. I will try to share things with you from my writing process — so far, how has it been adapting a novel, etc…. Also, other interesting things have evolved inside this project recent months. Tbc.

In the meantime, “I Could Have Walked Home Blindfolded” is a really nice and poetic title for a film, I think. What about you guys, you like it? Do you think it’s too long? Too weird? Perhaps some of you could try to come up with a short-version title, that we at least can use on this blog? Like a nickname. That would be fun.

See you soon!

Holiday greeting + Talent of the month!

The Christmas holidays are here soon! Maybe not breaking news — I guess you have noticed already. Here’s a short update on what’s going on in my world. Magne Pettersen – Talent of the month!