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Exclusive Interview With Dead Snow Director Tommy Wirkola
By James Whittington, Sunday 30th August 2009
Tommy Wirkola hails from Norway and is a multi talented writer, producer and director. His second full feature, Dead Snow is playing at this years FrightFest celebration and is coming to DVD on August 31st so we decided to have a quick chat to him about blood, guts and Zombie Nazis.   ZH: How did you get started in the movie industry?   TW: I made a couple of Internet shorts while still studying film in Australia. They became really popular, so when I finished school I invited a lot of my fellow students up to the north of Norway to shoot the movie version of the shorts. The movie was called Kill Buljo: The Movie, and is a spoof on the Kill Bill - films, as well as tons of other American films I loved growing up.   ZH: Have you always been a fan of the horror movie genre?   TW: Yes, always...Even more when I was younger. I loved the “Nightmare on Elm Street”-films, the “Friday the 13th” films, and all the Spielberg productions like “Gremlins” and Poltergeist”. Needless to say, the “Evil Dead”-movies also had a special place in my heart. As I got older I started valuing the more serious horror movies, like The Omen and The Exorcist. In addition I also loved the Hammer-productions from UK.   ZH: Do you have a favourite director?   TW: If I were to pick ONE, I guess I have to say Spielberg, especially from his early days, where he had one goal and one goal only; to entertain the crap out of you.   ZH: Where did the idea for Dead Snow come from? Were you inspired by other nazi zombie movies such as Shockwaves, Zombie Lake and Oasis Of The Zombies?   TW: Not very much, no. I knew of Shockwaves and Zombie Lake, but had only seen bits of them. So the idea for Dead Snow came, very shortly told, like this;   1.      We wanted to make the first zombie-movie in Scandinavia. 2.      What else can we do with the zombies? What can we do to make them more evil? Well, considering the strong WW2 history we have in the north, why not make them Nazi-zombies!? 3.      We wanted bring something completely fresh to the genre, so we decided to shoot it in the mountains in the north of Norway...in snow..   ZH: Did it take long to write?   TW: The first draft only took about a month and a half. We had the story pretty well organized in our heads before we sat down and got in on paper.   ZH: Was it difficult to pitch to studios?   TW: Well...first...there are no studios in Norway. The closest you come to that, is Norsk Filminnstitutt, who is a governmental funding “studio”. They provide you with 50% of the budget, and you have to come up with the rest. However, our application was rejected (apparently a Nazi-zombie movie does not come on top of their pile), so we funded the whole movie privately. Luckily, all the investors made their money back.   ZH: The cast give very credible performances, even when the movie is at its most outlandish. How did you stop them from going over-the-top with their acting?   TW: Well..we talked a lot about the fact that we did not want to go too far in to comedy..that it did not tip over into spoof-area. So it was a matter of playing it “straight”, no matter how ludicrous the sequence was. The idea was that the action and the situation was comical and extreme, but never the acting. Besides, I had all cast members to watch the Evil Dead-movies first, to see how it’s done.   ZH: There’s a wonderful homage to The Evil Dead when a couple of characters find a shed with tools. Was that fun to do?   TW: Yes...very fun. It’s funny...when I read the reviews, some call that scene a rip-off, others a tribute. I have never hidden the fact that this movie is inspired mainly by Evil Dead 2 and Braindead, so...it was natural to do something like that.   ZH: Am I right in thinking you shot the whole movie on location? If so, was it a tough shoot?   TW: We did the first 10 days INT in something that resembled a studio, the rest was shot on location. We lived in the middle of nowhere in an abandoned school, and had to drive a car for 10 minutes, then a snowmobile for 10 minutes to get on set. It was crazy. The weather kept screwing us over, and we had to start several days of digging out props and equipment that had been snowed down during the night.   ZH: There is so much blood on show here did you ever consider toning the gore down?   TW: No. Never. If anything, I would have wanted more. This is a movie where the violence is so cartoony, that it never would have offended somebody...hopefully.   ZH: Would you consider making a sequel at all?   TW: Yes. We have talked about a sequel. Bigger, funnier and bloodier!   ZH: What project are you working on at the moment?   TW: I am now working on a project called Hansel And Gretel: Witch-Hunters. This is for Paramount, with Gary Sanchez Productions producing. I am currently working on the 2nd draft. Basically it picks up the fairy-tale 15 years later, and Hansel and Gretel have grown up to be bounty-hunters for witches. Would say it’s an action/adventure/horror, with a Sam Raimi edge to it.   ZH: Tommy Wirkola, thank you very much   TW: Thank you.
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