Easter Greetings (repost)

A special message from the founder of the Royal Norwegian Ninja Force, King Olav V, on the occasion of Easter.

This teaser was first posted for Easter 2010 as part of our cast announcement of Trond-Viggo Torgersen playing King Olav V.

Yuletide Celebrations

The boys in black have made their special brew for that special time of year again.

The winter solstice celebrations of course.
A Grassy Island tradition going back to viking times. Skål!

Literal translation: "Yule goodies" (56% alcohol)

Ninja vs. Fly – a Norwegian Ninja Game

It’s December 5th, Day of the Ninja! An opportunity to post more goodies on the blog.

Regular readers already know that John S. Jamtli is an excellent graphic artist and action figure creator, whose contributions have appeared here on the blog ever since the early days. But John is also a cracking game designer. During an informal game jam earlier this year, he came up with a very fun Norwegian Ninja-inspired mini game.

Note: this was only ever meant to be the one level, and was put together in just one day. Enjoy, and see if you’ve got what it takes!

Click for game: Ninja vs. Fly

Game director and Game artist: John S. jamtli
Coder: Calum McMinn
Intro artist: Luis Guaragna

Norwegian Ninja: Year One

Hi all,

the Norwegian Ninja show is still on the road, with the US release today the 30th of August and loads of festival screenings ahead. Nevertheless, a year has passed since the Norwegian premiere and I’d like to share some moments with you!

THE PREMIERE

The official Oslo premiere was preceded by an unofficial premiere in my 20.000 man strong hometown of Kongsvinger, the Fortified town by the Glomma knee! It was fulfilling to finally offer something other than teenage delinquency to the community. The sensation of hanging out with actors Mads and Amund, composer Gaute, producer Eric, distributor Kjetil, family members, several generations of friends from the hometown and a bunch of friends from Oslo at the after-party in the very house my family has lived in for some 140 years… was very special. The energy of a music festival combined with the intimacy of a camp-fire made me feel like my 12-year-old self and my great grandfather at the same time.

Above: After-party at Malling gården in Kongvinger. Thanks again to everyone who took the time!

A couple of days later there was the party for the cast and crew – the official premiere at the Colosseum, Oslo. Having been away from the cast and crew during a long post-production period, it was great to have the team back together again.

THE FESTIVALS


In my mind, Q&A’s are the reason for attending a festival. Q&A’s tend to be a lot of fun, and I’m sure you can imagine what a privilege it is to get feedback and thoughts on something you care a lot about in direct conversation with people from around the world. The one in Trieste, Italy was amazing. If you were there, you’ll agree that for a while we felt like “We could take on the whole Empire ourselves” (here referring to Berlusconi’s Italy) to quote the best movie ever made. Which reminds me, the screening in LA was at the Chinese Mann Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, the same place Star Wars premiered in 1977. No tabi imprints next to R2D2′s wheels though.

The most exotic screening however must have been at Sommerfesten, Giske where we screened at the world’s only row-in cinema! People in yachts and kajaks were watching from
 the water and the rest of us were watching this huge screen from land. An amazing outdoor experience with people drinking and smoking what they had brought with them. You must go there next year!

Fantastic Fest in Austin 2010 was amazing. We won best Actor for Mads and best Director in the Next Wave competition. Founder Tim League and the rest of the FF Austin people really know how to put on a show – you must go there! However read producer Eric’s festival tips first.

Above: Fantastic Fest 2010. Founder Tim League to the left, Elijah Wood in there somewhere. Representative from Norway is the guy with two mugs because Mads nailed best actor for us.

The movie has screened at:

Fantastic Fest 2010, Austin, USA (International Premiére); Sommerfesten 2010, Giske, Norway; New Nordic Films, Haugesund, Norway 2010; Slash Film Festival 2010, Vienna, Austria; Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2010, Sitges, Spain; Science + Fiction 2011, Trieste, Italy; Indonesia Fantastic Film Festival 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia; Festival du Nouveau Cinema 2010, Montréal, Canada; AFI Fest 2010, Los Angeles, USA; Norwegian Cinema Days 2011, Moscow, Russia; Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival 2011, Tallinn, Estonia; Spies On Screen Special Event, International Spy Museum, Washington DC, USA; New Horizons Film Festival 2011, Wroclaw, Poland; Rio Fantastic Festival 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Espoo Ciné 2011, Espoo, Finland, Fantasy Film Fest 2011, various cities, Germany.

Next up is Lund International Fantastic Film Festival 2011, Lund, Sweden. There are lots more to come, but they are not announced yet.

THE REVIEWS

Reviews and ratings are important to a debuting filmmaker because he/she needs some third party evidence to prove that he/she isn’t a (here:) raving lunatic!! Other than that – what do we think of reviews? I don’t know. How about you? A Facebook-friend clustered movies with the same ranking as us just for fun. And according to our biggest National newspaper’s list of their 250 most recently reviewed movies, Norwegian Ninja is…

…Better than:
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “Captain America”, “Cars II”, “Green Lantern”, “The Bambi Effect”, “Help we’re in the Movie Biz”, “Hanna”, “Transformers III”, “X-Men: First Class”, “Thor”, “Amors Balls”, “Pax”, “Norwegian Wood”, “The Mountain”, the “Varg Veum” movies, “Sykt Lykkelig”, “Troll Hunter” and more.

…As good as:
“Oslo, 31. August”, “Hodejegerne”, “Harry Potter 7 part 2″, “Blue Valentine”, “Castaway on the moon”, “Rango”, “Anne + Jørgen = True”, “Melancholia”, “Black Swan”, “King of Bastøy”, “Nokas”, “Inception” and more.

…Worse than:
“Navals Secret – Indecencies”, “The King’s speech” and “I en bedre verden”.

Hmm – if nothing else, reviews – like statistics and other things that are assigned a value – can be a deceptive tool. Remember the camp-fire scene where coachman reached enlightenment – Every hot dog is “best”…

Above: People talking about Arne Treholt.

CLOSING NOTE

Collaborating with the team Eric at Tordenfilm set up to make this movie was a massive learning experience and a great deal of fun. If I made Norwegian Ninja again it would be completely different. Maybe it’s a good thing we (not you George) only get one shot at each project. Knowing myself I’d probably fall for the temptation of removing all the movie’s shortcomings and probably make it even worse somehow!

Above: My favourite picture from the production. It features all of us - under immense pressure yet on a positive vibe we managed to keep till the end - imitating VFX-Supervisor Ludvig (Ludde) Friberg. When ever he did his "I dunno but..." expression when we had a problem, we knew he was right. In the end, whenever he gesticulated like this, we dropped everything and did as he said.

As far as the post-premiere year goes, the key benefit of the past twelve months has without a doubt been making new friends in Norway and all over the world, especially at festivals but also through social media. Indeed it is gratifying that the movie continues to find it’s way to inclined individuals across the world and to get to know them and hang out with them again as fate or luck re-connects us! Fortunately the world is becoming a smaller place and it’s easier than ever to reach out to and support each other.

That’s good news for all of us.
Happy Birthday Norwegian Ninja!

Sincerely yours,
Thomas
writer/director

Norwegian Ninja Wallpaper Bonanza!

This weekend, it’s been exactly one year since our initial theatrical release. To mark the occasion, we’ve retooled the awesome DVD and Blu-Ray menu designs by Alen Grujic/Ellen Ugelstad to create a batch of sweet desktop backgrounds.

Enjoy!
(Click on the images to see their full glory, then “save as…”)

Bonus: you can also get the “weapon wall” teaser poster design as wallpaper by vising the Norwegian offical homepage and clicking on the left hand sai sword (mouseover says “nedlastinger”).

Super 8mm Behind The Scenes

Yes, we’re also quite looking forward to JJ Abrams’ movie Super 8. But he’s not the only one in love with this film format. So are the Ninjas.

During the production of Norwegian Ninja, several Super 8 cameras were used as props. The character ”Tromsø”, played by Stunt Coordinator Kristoffer Jørgensen, can be seen operating them in several scenes.

But why stop at only having these beautiful cameras as props? They were fully functional. So VFX Supervisor Ludvig Friberg brought along a few old rolls of black and white Super 8 film that he and Kristoffer shot during the roughly two months of production.

These rolls of film have only recently been developed and digitized (more on that further down), so the material has never been shown before. We proudly present this footage below – a mix of behind-the-scenes footage, alternate angles of scenes from the movie and other bizarre things. No sound.

Cinematography by Ludvig Friberg and Kristoffer Jørgensen.

The story of how this footage made the leap from analog film rolls into the digital realm is in itself remarkable. After shipping the rolls to the Netherlands for development, Ludvig built a telecine machine himself! Truly in the spirit of the Norwegian Ninjas.

Using a scrapped projector, a DSLR sensor, a joystick, a microswitch, a computer mouse, an LED light from IKEA and a whole lot of ingenuity, he came up with a machine that captures Super 8 film one frame at a time to a Canon 5D MkII sensor on Liveview over HDMI at 5x zoom using a 100mm macro lens.

Here it is, in action:

More shots of Ludvig’s amazing DIY rig, under construction:

Photos by Ludvig Friberg.

Postscript:

Super 8 as a format is only kept alive by a few enthusiasts these days, and the look is instantly nostalgic. I made my first few films on my family’s Super 8 camera, as did many, many others who were kids in the sixties, seventies and well into the eighties. Then came home video, and a new era in generational nostalgia. I wonder if the pixellated mobile videos of today, as they are shown on gigantic HD screens, will carry the same emotional weight and time stamp for the current generation. My guess is a resounding “yes”.

Postscript 2:

Don’t forget, Norwegian Ninja hits US shores on VOD and DVD on June 28!
Preorder now, or queue it up on Netflix!

Posters For Japan

Illustrator John S. Jamtli (aka Jaeger Art) and writer/director Thomas Cappelen Malling have created an awesome poster for the charity exhibition Posters For Japan.

Check out the artwork below and read all about it on Thomas’ blog. The exhibition opened here in Oslo tonight, and Thomas just filed a report with pictures of several more of the posters on display.

The Five Golden Rules of Film Festival Survival

One the eve of Cannes, I found some time to reflect on the survival skills you need when you visit film festivals. After more than ten years of regularly attending them, here are my Golden Rules. What are yours?

Palm Springs 2007. Picture only for illustration, as this was the last night, not the first.

 

Rule #1: Don’t Over-Do It The First Night.

You fly in on an invitation to attend a festival screening your film, and usually there will be some kind of opening party, or just ample opportunities in general to get wasted and stay up late. Either along with other filmmakers, the festival organizers, members of the audience or with someone from your cast or crew who came along or a combination of all four. No rule without an exception though: If you plan to only stay a couple of days, then you can safely Over-Do It by holding on to the idea of sleeping it off on the plane ride home.

But if you plan to spend several days to hang out during the festival, it can be a good thing to not burn the candle at both ends from the get-go. Especially if you’re not one of those professional festival travelers who spend more days on the road than at home. We’re talking about a certain breed of film journalists, sales agents and festival programmers. They have an extra reservoir of mystical stamina that you, the lowly and only occasional festival traveler, can’t hope to match. I find that going to bed relatively early on the first night of a festival pays dividends in the following days. You’ll have more energy for seeing movies, getting to know other guests and audience members etc. This is especially true in Cannes, which is a 9 to 5 festival meaning of course 9 am to 5 am…

(You’re free to call me an old fart in the comments section below.)

Guatemala City 2007. Local delicacy: Pollo Campero!

 

Rule #2: Eat When You Get A Chance.

Although this can seem very obvious, it’s easy to forget. Festival days can become quite a blur, with a mix of screenings and other happenings that more often than not ruin your daily habits. So whenever you see a piece of food pass by, try to eat it. You never know when your next chance at sustenance will come. It ‘s advisable to ask the owner first though, and perhaps offer to buy it. Note that during most festivals, your diet will consist of irregular helpings of tiny and often poor excuses for food (“finger food”, “snacks”). And beer. Or wine. Or both.

If you’re able to set aside time to actually eat something worthwhile, it always helps to go with locals. Chances are you’re in a strange city in a strange country where you’re not equipped to make anything but snap decisions on where to go. Many festivals also take place in touristy areas, so it’s not uncommon to get caught up in some expensive and mediocre establishment.

Cannes 2010. Footwear on the left not recommended. Footwear on the right always recommended.

 

Rule #3: Use Only The Finest Quality Footwear.

I debated with myself to put this rule in the top spot, as it can’t be stressed enough. Invariably, film festivals involve a lot of walking between venues and/or standing in line for screenings etc. Furthermore, you’ll probably not be able to change shoes (or clothes) during the whole day. So do a little research on the climate of where you’re going, and invest in some quality footwear that fits the season. It will have to be the kind that breathes, too. Warning: flip flops (with or without socks) may be culturally inappropriate!

Cannes 2007. The legendary after hours bar Le Petit Majestique (beware of pick pockets!)

 

Rule #4: No Meetings Before Noon If You Can Help It.

This rule applies to festivals you attend to do business, and if you’re older than 30 years of age. Speaking for myself at the tender age of 36, I simply can’t stay up til until 4 or 5 in the morning having fun and then be up and about again at 9 in the morning to close a deal or follow up that important distributor. So in order to have my cake and eat it too, I never book meetings before noon during festival days. Everybody wins. Not least the people I’m meeting, who I’ve spared of having to endure my sleep-deprived stuttering, cold sweats, shivers and bleary eyes.

However, that special breed of hard-as-nails festival goers mentioned in Rule #1 are exempt from Rule #4. Sales agents, for example. I can’t fathom how they do it. They’re always the last people to leave the party, and the first people to be up – reading the trades, doing last-minute adjustments to their schedule of meetings and screenings …and having meetings. They must sleep a fortnight after returning from a major festival or market. Or they are on horrible drugs. Or both.

Cannes (not sure which year): This guy dressed up to market his short film. Quite effective, but I can't remember his name.

 

Rule #5: The Other Guy Doesn’t Remember Your Name Either, And It’s Okay.

Attending festivals are worthwhile not least for the chance to meet loads of new, cool people. If you’re a recluse filmmaker, the kind who mutters under his or her breath on the bus that nobody understands your art, or if you have problems with crowds (say in a movie theater) – then simply don’t go. Stay at home.

But for the rest of you, here’s the advice. During the course of say a week of attending a major festival like Cannes or Berlin, you’re bound to literally meet dozens if not hundreds of people. And following the notion that festivals, with their compressed, hyperactive version of life, can become quite a blur – it’s OK if someone’s name slips, or if you can’t for the life of you remember where you last met the person you’ve been chatting along with for the whole evening. It happens to the other guy too. So don’t sweat it.

Needless to say, if you’re the type of person that has an elephantine memory of faces, places and names – you’ll probably make it big in the festival world, as you deftly navigate the various parties and occasions – safe in the knowledge that you won’t talk crap about the hosts within earshot of them. Like everyone else does.

RUNNERS UP

Rule #6: Smile When Receiving The Award Which Is A Horrible Sculpture By A Local Artist.

This is true for every festival in the known universe.

Rule #7: It’s OK To Sleep During A Screening As Long As You Don’t Snore.

For many festival attendees, screenings are their only chance to get some shut-eye. Do not disturb.

Rule #8: There’s No Accounting For The Taste Of The Jury. It’s All Politics. Deal With It.

No reason to shed any tears when you lost out. It’s not about you, your film, or the other films.

Rule #9: Never, Ever Attend A Market Or Press Screening Of Your Film.

This is especially true for directors, who will be mortified. Film industry types will be texting, taking calls and leaving after only a few minutes.

Rule #10: Read Up On Where You’re Going.

Just like it is with vacations, I invariably find that festival trips become a lot more enjoyable if I know a little about the place I’m visiting. Check out some Wikipedia articles, TripAdvisor, anything. And see if you can’t set aside some time off to explore between screenings and parties (yeah, right).

Palm Springs 2007, visiting the Joshua Tree National Park. Notice the tiny climber on that huge rock.

What are your Golden Rules for festivals? Leave them in the comments section below!

 

Movie Barcode

This is the “movie barcode” for Norwegian Ninja, as put together by our colorist Christian Berg-Nielsen.

What you see is every frame of the movie compressed into tiny, one pixel wide slivers, and then stacked from left to right, starting with the beginning of the movie. At the far right you have the ending. Click the image for full size.

Also, check out the Tumblr where this whole thing started to see barcodes for plenty of other films.

Norwegian Ninja (Cosmic Disco Version) Music Video!

It’s time to move your booty – Norwegian Ninja style!

Below is the music video for the irresistible, danceable version of our main theme, as performed by Disco Chris! Music video editing by Martin Stoltz-Olsen. Original score by Gaute Tønder.

Don’t forget that you can buy this song as well as the whole score!