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August 04, 2008

IMPROVISING WITH ACTORS AND CREW: Exclusive Interview with Davíd Óskar Ólafsson, Producer of Country Wedding (Sveitabrúðkaup)

Watch the exclusive trailer with subtitles in English here.

1 Story, 7 Days, 17 Actors, 4 Cameras, 1 Committed Team, the result: Country Wedding. This Icelandic film was mostly improvised on location, was directed by Valdis Óskarsdóttir and produced by Elfar Aðalsteinsson,  Wouter Barendrecht, Hreinn Beck, Árni Filippusson, Jim Stark, Gudrun Edda Thorhanesdottir and Davíd Óskar Ólafsson.

The film premieres in Iceland on August 28th, there’s no release date yet in the U.S. The film is being repped by Fortissimo Films.

We had the pleasure to interview Davíd Óskar Ólafsson on how was his experience working in a tight schedule with a limited budget when pretty much everybody was improvising all the time.

How did you get involve in this production?
Well the truth is that Valdis is my mother. We wanted to do a film together. I had  a Production Company in Iceland, so everything was in place.

How long took the pre-production?
We started to talk about this project in January 2008 and we had our first shooting date on April 28th, so that makes 4 months for development and pre-production.

Why you decided to shot in just one week?
We wanted to do this in a different way. The Story gave us the opportunity to do it in real time, so we decided to go for it. At first we wanted to do everything in 6 days, so we got 2 extra days, just in case, we end up using just an extra one. This gave us an extra energy on the set, we had a tight limit, also the actors never knew what was the next shot, so they prefered to be all day in character. It was very exhausting but it was a lot of fun.

How was working with 4 cameras?
It wasn't to hard. We just had to think a little more before shooting. We usually blocked the whole scene first and then we found the camera positions after that we run the the scene a couple of times until we were happy. Then we shoot it. We changed the camera positions again and then we finished with a free cut away flow when all the cameraman did as they like.

What was the format of production?
We Shot in HDV, particulary the camera JVC-HD200

How was Valdis as a Director?
Well she's my mother, of course I have to say it was great right? But it was really fantastic, she did a very good job. She kept 17 actors relaxed and up to date with what she wanted, just that it's a great achieving for a first time director. So as a producer and a son I can't wait to work with her again.

Why to tell this story?
She had this story in her head for a long time. She also likes to tell weird stories of normal, but out of place characters and families. This is one of those.

How was the involvement of Icelandic Government in this film?
We got funds from the Icelandic Film Centre and we have also applied for a 14% reimbursement from the state.

How expensive is to shoot in Iceland?
Compare to other Europeans countries I’d say it’s cheaper.

So you improvised a lot with the crew and with the actors?
That’s right and it was really funny. During the production the actors never really knew what was going on at any moment  and what would happen next, so watching their faces when something unexpected happened was really amazing, they did a great job. The film was mostly improvised by the actors on the fly, so I have to say that sometimes things went a little bit out of control, but that’s normal in this business, I would say we were more relaxed that a typical indie production.

Are you working in a next project?
We are, actually, working on another film that we hopefully will be able to start shooting in May 2009. I just finished directing my first short film and will be working on that for a while, we have others project on development.

Last words?
I want to thank everyone that worked on this film and made it possible for us. It has been a though journey but was worth every second of it.

Iceland Film Industry it’s been growing, a typical year you used to see 2 or 3 national productions a year, now had increase to 5 or 6. It’s cheaper than other territories in Europe and have an amazing volcanic landscapes that could translate fantastically into any kind of production, so if you want to make that sci-fi guerrilla style film but couldn’t find the right location, or that country drama with amazing landscapes have a look at the pictures below, maybe you can take your idea to Iceland, team up with a production company there and voila!

For How to Produce in Iceland Click here.
For a list of production Companies in Iceland Click here.





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