Rare Exports director Jalmari Helander discusses his Christmas classic Rare Exports and more.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is certainly on its way to becoming a new holiday classic, in a very non-traditional way. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale was recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, which will surely make great a stocking stuffer for anyone in your family who appreciates a Christmas tale served up with a genre flair. I recently had the chance to ask director Jalmari Helander a few questions about Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, the origins of the story, a potential sequel, and more. Here's what he had to say below.
When you made the first Rare Exports short film in 2003, were you setting that up as a proof of concept for a feature film down the road, or did it all branch off the popularity of that short?
Jalmari Helander: I had no idea that the short film would be so popular. It was meant only as a Christmas present for our clients. After the succes I made another one and I was planning to do a third short film, but the idea was too big for a short film. Everybody were saying that I should make a feature film about it. So I did.
Onni Tommila starred in the original short's sequel, and you have a few other cast members from both the shorts in this feature. Were you writing the feature with them in mind the whole time, and can you talk about assembling the rest of the cast?
Jalmari Helander: Of course it was clear that I will use the same actors. Onni is actually my sister's son and his father in the film is his real father. The third person of the original Rare posse was a gaffer and not a real actor. So I had to change that to have a Piiparinen in the film. Greene is the narrator of the shorts. The elves are a norwegian man choir.
We ran a Blu-ray special feature showing part of the rehearsal period for Rare Exports. How much time did you have to rehearse before shooting, and how did that process help when shooting actually started?
Jalmari Helander: It helped a lot. We were training maybe a week or two. It was very nice to see how the scenes finally came to life because they had only existed on paper and my head. We actually made very few changes to the script and almost no changes after the rehearsal. After that period I watched the videotapes many many times in my home, and knew exactly what to do in the actual shots.
I personally love Christmas movies that don't exactly spread holiday cheer, like The Ref, Bad Santa, even Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Do you see Rare Exports being this kind of cult Christmas classic 10 years down the road, the kind of movie that the adults in the family watch after the kids are put to bed?
Jalmari Helander: I really hope so.
Do you have any plans for a sequel, either in feature-length or short form? How would you like to see this story evolve for a sequel? Are there any other movie projects you're developing aside from Rare Exports?
Jalmari Helander: I am currently writing my next feature. It is not Rare Exports. But maybe some day. I know what is going to happened in the sequel and it's not going to be pretty...
Rare Exports is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.