Exclusive: Writer/Director Aleksander Nordaas on Thale
Writer/director Aleksander Nordaas' modern dark fairy tale Thale is playing now in limited theaters courtesy of XLRator Media. The film follows two crime scene cleaners who happen upon a mythical creature known as the Huldra, which they discover locked away inside a concealed cellar on their latest job.
Once she’s released, the mysteries of both this creature and why she’s been hidden away for all these years are slowly revealed.
Recently Dread Central has the opportunity to chat with Nordaas about the fairy tales that inspired Thale, his tumultuous experiences working on the project over the course of three years which was a labor of love for all involved, and whether or not he’s planning to revisit this world in the future.
Dread Central : I really enjoyed the story you crafted here; how much of Thale was based on actual folklore?
Aleksander Nordaas: We kind of borrowed a lot of the folklore but then gave it a modern spin because if we had gone with a more traditional story, there would have been more production costs. The stories were often somewhat scary and haunting, and while I've always loved the realm of folklore stories, I think I've come to appreciate it even more after making Thale. I feel like I’m in some ways able to continue the tradition of Norwegian folklore by contributing my own stories.
Dread Central: Can you talk about the casting process for Thale- I really enjoyed the performances in the film immensely, particularly the two male leads, who had fantastic chemistry?
Aleksander Nordaas: Erlend (Nervold) and Jon (Sigve Skard) came on board for free; I knew all the actors before I started filming in fact, which really worked out because I didn't have a lot of money behind this production. We were all in it for the right reasons and really became this filmmaking family. And Erlend and Jon I knew from a movie I made almost ten years ago now called Sirkel; knowing their strengths as actors really helps you when you're crafting characters for them to portray.
Dread Central: I also thought the actress who played the Huldra in captivity did a phenomenal job at conveying so much without being able to use her voice at all. How did you guys work together to prepare her for that role?
Aleksander Nordaas: Silje (Reinamo) is a very talented actress and I just knew she could pull it off. Her eyes and her body language really end up telling so much of the story; I think Silje's approach to the role was so bold and so unusual. Through our many takes she always found different ways to convey what we needed. And her input into that character and that role was invaluable.
Dread Central: You mentioned earlier having production issues- how rough was it for you guys?
Aleksander Nordaas: To be perfectly honest, we started off shooting without any kind of funding in place; we only a couple of plane tickets and whatever we had in our pockets. It really wasn't an ideal way to make a movie but we didn't want to wait around- we just wanted to make it. So basically we built the film brick by brick; whenever we had time to get together, we'd all meet up at the cellar set that I had constructed in my dad's basement and shoot whatever we could that day. The whole process of production went on for nearly three years if you can imagine that.
We were incredibly lucky that we managed to secure the last part of financing to do the remaining post-production work and all the CGI work based on what we had shot, which is amazing. There was never a guarantee that it was going to get completed so it was a risky venture on their part; they didn't know if this movie would actually get made so we always kept that in the back of our heads whenever things got really rough for us. We knew we had to finish this movie.
Dread Central: Do you feel like this is a folklore you guys would like to revisit in the future if you get the opportunity?
Aleksander Nordaas: Well, we're still trying to figure that out; we had a lot of different approaches in Thale, but I think ultimately the 'less is more' approach really was the right direction for this story. That means, though, that we had to leave a lot of questions unanswered, and I think we've got a pretty good idea of what those answers might be in a sequel. There are a lot of possibilities for this world, but I'm not sure just yet if we'll get to explore them or not.
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