Henrik M Dahlsbrakken
Synopsis: On a perilous journey to the North Pole, an Arctic explorer makes a critical decision with lifelong consequences.
There seems to be a number of wonderful films and filmmakers coming out of Norway these days. Can you touch a little on that?
I think you're right. Filmmakers in Norway, as well as Sweden and Denmark, are really on a roll these days. I reckon it's due to an increase in state funding and subsidies to the national film industry, which allows producers to pursue more risky projects, and our ability to find new ways of stimulating young aspiring filmmakers to tell stories through a camera lens. I also think filmmaking’s ability to move across national boundaries, which the European Union helps facilitate, has made the local film industry a lot more healthier and alive. We tend to do more interesting projects about the time we're living in.
How much research went into this film and how much of it is actual fact?
It's no secret that the film is inspired by famous Norwegian explorers Roald Amundsen (first man to reach the South Pole) and Fridtjof Nansen's endeavors, although the plot itself is very much a product of my own imagination. The research period lasted for about six months before we went into production. I visited some museums, read books, articles, watched films, and talked to a lot of dedicated people.
How was filming in Spitsbergen and how did you adjust to the cold?
We were actually quite lucky. The exterior shoot on the east coast of Spitsbergen lasted for three days at the beginning of May 2011, and the temperature was around 0 degrees Celsius (32° F) during the whole shoot. It could've been -20° Celsius (-4° F), which would've caused a lot of problems for us, both technically and physically. The weather was really good as well. I guess our only threat was the polar bears. There are 4000 of them at Spitsbergen (as opposed to only 2000 inhabitants). The whole crew survived and we got what we came for: beautiful pictures.
Should we presume the explorer ate the sled dogs?
Yes. Both Amundsen and Nansen were forced to eat sled dogs during their excursions in order to survive. Eating only dogs can cause a number of diseases. One is scurvy, which amongst other things can lead to hallucinations and delusions. Even though this is not a crucial to understanding the film, it's not unthinkable that the explorer is suffering from such a disease, which would explain a lot of his actions.
Did the fearless explorer murder his last companion?
Who knows? It's up to each viewer to decide. I myself reckon the companion froze to death while sleeping, as a lot of polar explorers did.
How many short films have you made in the past? And what advice would you give to a filmmaker who is about to make their first short film?
The Devil's Ballroom is my fourth short film. My advice to aspiring short filmmakers is not to care about money, technical quality or do-ability. Always place story first. And of course, never give up trusting in your own ideas and dreams. As the polar explorers proved, everything is possible.
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