Interview: Aleksander Nordaas – Director (Thale)

Director Aleksander Nordaas has been making short films & TV movies in his native Norway since 2005. His latest production “THALE” tells the story of Leo & Elvis, a pair of crime scene cleanup workers who find a woman who is actually a mythological creature (Called a Huldra) in the basement of a house they’re working in. They soon find themselves besieged by someone or something outside of the house they’re in and not only have to defend themselves against the unknown threat waiting just outside the door, they have to figure out where the beautiful woman they discovered came from & what her secret is. He took some time out to talk with HNN before the film opens in select theaters across the country.

Horrornews: I’ve seen your film three times this weekend and enjoy it a great deal. What was it about this particular story that made you want to turn it into a film?

Aleksander Nordaas: It wasn’t so much the story that made me want to make the film. It was mainly the character (The Huldra) that was attractive to me as a filmmaker. The Huldra is a very well known mythological creature here in Norway & she’s always been my favorite creature as well. I always thought there was something attractive about her story and thought there was something to it that I could play with. So I studied her mythology and put her into my more modern folklore so to speak.

HN: You say that you’ve known the story of the Huldra since you were a child. Was it a story that was told to children by their parents to scare them?

AN: That’s a very good question! A lot of the myths that come from Norway feature weird beings and a lot of them feature bad things happening to children as well! So yeah, I would imagine that parents here have used some of these stories to get their children to bed & keep them there!

HN: I was watching some video of you at the Toronto Film Festival and you mentioned that you only had about $10,000 US to make “THALE”. Was that your final budget or was that just an overall estimate? I ask because the film looks so good with some beautiful cinematography.

AN: Well it was actually a little bit more than that although I don’t have the final tally for it.

HN: Correct me if I’m wrong but as I was watching “THALE” I got the impression that you might be a fan of the “EVIL DEAD” films. Am I right?

AN: I absolutely admire them…

HN: I ask this question because when the film began and the guys got into the home and found the Huldra it looked a lot like the cabin in the original “EVIL DEAD”. The look and feel of the interior was very reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s film. The tape recording with a disembodied voice telling the story, even the setting, a cabin in the middle of the woods, looked & felt a lot like “EVIL DEAD”. Was this look something you were consciously going for was it just a happy coincidence?

AN: A happy coincidence!

HN: [Laughing] I thought I had nailed something there!

AN: You might have! I see a lot of films & maybe some of that look got into my film without my realizing it. As you make a film circumstances change & you have to adapt to these changes. While writing the film I had to change some of my original plans for locations because of problems with our budget. The scenes in the basement were actually done in my mother’s basement but that wasn’t where I originally envisioned filming those scenes. With low budget films you have to roll with the punches and situations like that are quite common. My father was going crazy while we were there!

HN: The role of Leo (John Sigve Skard) was very interesting to me. The character is so laid back & casual, nothing seems to faze him no matter how dire the circumstances. I was wondering if the character was written that way or was this attitude something the actor brought to the part?

AN: The character was written that way. Everyone is going to react differently to differing circumstances, Leo & Elvis (Erlend Nervold) are no exception. The personalities of the actors were actually the complete opposite of their characters! People who meet John are really surprised at how outgoing & gregarious he is in reality so all honors to him for his total immersion into the character.

HN: Actress Silje Reinamo (Thale) is completely nude throughout the film. Did she have any problems beforehand with the nudity required of her?

AN: There were some physical challenges for her since the basement we filmed in was extremely cold but she was up for it. There were a lot of discussions beforehand about how we would approach different aspects of the nudity in the film so she was very prepared for what the role required.

HN: There is some very effective CGI used in the end of the film. Did you plan to use CGI all along or were there any discussions about using practical effects for the Huldra’s?

AN: When we shot those scenes we didn’t have the money for practical or CGI effects! So we actually shot those scenes two ways: One way so if we got some money for CGI it would be easy to insert it into the film. And another way in case we couldn’t secure the funds & had to leave it more to the viewers imagination. Luckily we got the funds to get the CGI in there & it’s a better film for it.

HN: What was the critical reaction to the film in Norway?

AN: It was actually very mixed. We got a much better response to the film internationally than locally. Here in Norway we have a rating system based on numbers, 1 – 6. We ended up pretty much in the middle so people either really liked it or they really hated it. There was no middle ground.

HN: The end of the film is fairly open. Are there any plans to consider a sequel if this film is a success?

AN: There are a lot more stories to tell featuring the Huldra’s and there is a lot more to tell about Thale as well. The film ended that way intentionally, I love open ended films. We left it this way to continue the story but as of right now I’m too involved with telling this story to think about where it might be headed. But if the opportunity presents itself I would love to continue telling the story of Thale & her adventures.

“Thale” (Distributed by XLrator media) opens in select theaters in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Denver & Portland on April 5th. If you live in these cities make an effort to see it, you won’t be disappointed!

Interview: Aleksander Nordaas – Director (Thale)

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