Aleksander Nordaas Talks Thale, available on DVD and Blu-ray today!
On Blu-ray and DVD today after a limited theatrical run, Thale follows two crime scene cleaners who discover a beautiful, tailed female creature known as a huldra locked away in a cellar. She never utters a word, unable to tell her story, but the pieces of the puzzle soon come together: She's been held captive for decades for reasons soon to surface.
We recently caught up with writer/director Aleksander Nordaas to chat about this thriller based on ancient Norwegian folklore. And it only added to the excitement that he called us from the land of Thale itself. Here is our conversation.
How's the weather up there in Norway this afternoon?
Aleksander Nordaas: I actually don't want to talk about the weather. (Laughs) There is a lot of snow.
The artwork for Thale has been amazing. It really reaches out and grabs you, and, seriously, I didn't even need a trailer to know this is something I wanted to see...
Aleksander Nordaas: We started out with the poster that just had the cow's tail on it. I made that myself on the computer to start pumping stuff out while we were making the film. So, I made some of the posters myself, and then we had posters come from the distributors. They made the other posters. But I guess the tail, art wise, is something we haven't seen much of. I think it worked for us. What is your opinion? It caught your eye?
Yes, definitely. I saw some of the images, and I immediately went searching for more about the movie. The art speaks to what the movie is extremely well.
Aleksander Nordaas: Great!
The creature in the movie is very close to what we see in Norwegian folklore. What were the challenges of casting Thale? And finding an actress who looked so much like the huldra?
Aleksander Nordaas: I knew Silje Reinåmo, who is playing Thale. In 2008, we made our first film together, that was the first time I worked with her professionally. Going into the writing of Thale, I wrote the character for her. She was on board from the beginning, because I knew this was going to be a really challenging part. I needed an actress who would just go with it, and put all of herself into the character. I knew that Silje Reinåmo could do that. She has the physicality to do that, as well. So it made it a little less challenging.
How does that change the writing process, when you know a specific actor is going to play a specific character?
Aleksander Nordaas: It was really helpful. She was beside me while I was writing. I could see what worked, and what didn't. I could go through the story with her shot by shot. We could find a way to approach it.
How did knowing that you had little to no budget affect the way you wrote a screenplay?
Aleksander Nordaas: We knew we had to structure the film to the locations that we had available. We wrote it backwards. We put the action in where we could shoot that. We had to figure out how it fit into the story, and at which locations that it was physically appealing. Of course, being the director and screenwriter myself, I could pretend along at the locations before we went there and started shooting. That was one of the advantages of being so low budget. We didn't have the pressure of a time schedule on our hands. So I could schedule time to make it as visual and as weird as I wanted to. Once we figured that out, we could just go and shoot.
Why do you think these movies about Norwegian folklore have never been made before?
Aleksander Nordaas: That's a really good question. Because I always asked myself that as a young director in Norway. Why aren't more Norwegian filmmakers making these kinds of films? I would have watched them. Ironically, traditionally, in Norway, we had until recently a state funded system. This state funded system, until the last ten or so years, has been triumphing films that are only based in reality or drama. Luckily, in the last ten years, filmmakers have become more aware of the folklore. It is so much a part of our culture. This is something we want to bring out to the world now, and we think people are ready for it. I think for a while the Norwegians were avoiding it. But the state funded system was different than it is now.
This folklore has remained consistent in the culture though, right? Or has it faded amongst the younger people of the country?
Aleksander Nordaas: Its weird. Norwegians are very fond of their Trolls. Trolls are seen in other cultures. But there are a lot of other creatures that are kind of fading away. I have always known about the other creatures. But I realize now that the kids growing up don't know about some of these things. The kids in high school. I'm only 30 years old, but they are gradually disappearing. But now they are starting to reemerge in certain films. Younger kids today, luckily, are now learning more about it.
Do you plan to continue making films about Norwegian folklore? Or will you move in a different direction with your next film?
Aleksander Nordaas: I hope it's a little bit of both. There is a lot more to grab a hold of in the Norwegian culture. Also, I went to do other types of films.