Stunt work

Eric’s note: this is a special report written by our stunt coordinator Kristoffer Jørgensen.

Amund Maarud (left) and Kristoffer Jørgensen in rehearsal. Photo by Fredrik Nilsson
Amund Maarud (left) and Kristoffer Jørgensen in rehearsal. Photo by Fredrik Nilsson

My involvement with “Norwegian Ninja” started in March 2008, when I held a lecture on stunt work at the Norwegian Film Institute, Oslo. Here, I pleaded for involving the stunt coordinator at an early stage of a production, especially if a project was ambitious regarding the stunt work. After the lecture, I was approached by producer Eric Vogel and director Thomas C. Malling and told that they might have just such a project…

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Mads Ousdal (left) and Johannes Eilertsen in rehearsal. Photo by Håkon Sørensen

“Norwegian Ninja” is indeed an ambitious film, not the least in the stunt department. At the same time, I doubt if it will be perceived as a genre film singularily; the action is always there for a reason, not for its own gratuitious end (even if sometimes for quirky, weird reasons). Nevertheless, the script called for extensive fight scenes, chase sequences, vehicles, explosions, pyrotechnics, underwater sequences, climbing and height work, aerial work, and a variety of acrobatics and body stunts. And then some.

Now, 18 months later, all those seemingly impossible things from Thomas’ imagination have been brought into the real world – hopefully to his liking – and in that process we have made them ours, too.

It has been a special thrill putting together the film’s own home-grown brand of ninjutsu, composed of my own martial arts background, some military close combat techniques and tactics, additional tricks inspired by Stephen K. Hayes ninjutsu books from the 80’s (sic), and obviously something from the classic “Ninjateknikk II”. Purists may take offence, but as we are pointing at the moon, only fools look at the pointing hand…

In that same lecture back in 2008, I also vouched for training actors extensively to prepare them for physical sequences. It makes for more freedom in process and choreography, and helps in merging action and storytelling. It also enables actors to perform more themselves, with less or no use of stunt doubles. Consequently, for “Norwegian Ninja” we started training some of the actors 5 weeks before principal photography began. And I can only say that they have impressed everyone with their diligence and will to push through.

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Mads Ousdal (left) and Johannes Eilertsen in rehearsal. Photo by Håkon Sørensen

I am also very happy with the stunt team we assembled for this film. Some were fresh faces, some seasoned veterans; all were ambitious and hard working, and we covered a lot during the comparatively short shooting period. Almost every day, there has been some stunt or fight sequence going down. And best of all, no one got hurt. Well, apart from the odd bruises, first degree burns, harness tears and sore derrières. That, and a dislocated backbone. But hey, that’s all in a good day’s work for us ninjas.

Stunt team:

Kristoffer Jørgensen
Johannes Eilertsen
Niklas Brennsund
Fredrik Nilsson
Jonathan Wiberg
Dag Eliassen
Tarmo Hietala
Lars Bergman
Christel Jørgensen
Lavrans Haga
Suleman Malik
Bilal Malik
Nasir Sirikhan
Kim Daniel Eriksen