Row-In Report

The festival mascot. Photo by Eric Vogel.

Friday July 30th was a big day for us.

We did a very special screening of “Kommandør Treholt & Ninjatroppen” at Sommerfesten, an amazing music festival held on the island of Giske. This was the first ever screening of the movie with an audience, a full two weeks before the theatrical run starts.

What made us bring the movie up there was the concept of doing a row-in. You put up a huge outdoor screen by the water – and let people bring their boats to watch the movie from. In a previous blog post we wrote about the preparations.

So how did it go?
The long and the short of it: it was an incredible experience for us!

I’ll let some of my pictures lead the narrative.

Red Cross crew. Photo by Eric Vogel.

The picture above shows the section of the festival area where the screen and projection booth (to the right) were set up. This is not too long after we arrived at Giske in the late afternoon. We being writer/director Thomas, marketer Ingrid Sølverud from Euforia and myself.

The scaffolding and screen took three days to assemble, and in the end measured 7,5 meters tall by over 17 meters wide. Monster huge!

Although mainly obscured by fog in the picture above, the nature surrounding Giske is truly spectacular and definitely one of the reasons artists want to come to the festival to play every year.

Size matters. The screen dwarfs projection maestro Jan Eberholst Olsen (left) and writer/director Thomas. Photo by Eric Vogel.

The weather was quite bad. Pouring rain and cold gusts of wind. To be frank, I thought we’d get two boats and a couple dozen people show up on land because of these conditions. Thankfully, the rain stopped and the locals/festivalgoers are hardy folk, so that fear was unfounded (as you’ll see further down).

Inside the booth, Jan is seen here preparing a Hannah Montana trailer (!?) to check the sound system. In all, the crew to make this happen numbered 6 people, and the equipment that was brought in weighed over a ton. That sweet 35mm projector weighs 500 kg on its own.

The picture quality was, in short, fantastic. The sound system was Dolby Digital 5.1, but we weren’t able to use the surround channels for this screening. Still, it sounded really good for the circumstances, with the audio travelling nicely across the water to reach the boats. The plan to allow boat radios to pick it up on a special frequency were in the end dropped.

As evening fell, boats started to trickle into the bay. The fellow above did the kayak thing and hence had a “paddle-in”.

In the space of a few hours, the bay went from this:

…to this:

In all, 50+ boats. Amazing!

The rain stopped and the skies cleared up (a bit) and we were almost ready for screening. But first, we got the additional treat of seeing Norwegian blues/psych/rock-band The Grand play a ferocious live set.

Their guitarist/vocalist Amund Maarud plays the role of Ninja apprentice Humla (“Bumblebee”) in the movie, and has also performed on the soundtrack together with bandmates Henrik Maarud (drums) and Per Tobro (bass).

Here’s Amund performing with The Grand on Friday:

Eirik Tovsrud Knutsen (left) and Amund Maarud on fire! Photo by Eric Vogel.

The Grand played indoors in a circus tent right behind the screening area. After the excellent concert, the crowd went outside for the screening.

It was possible to watch from dry ground as well from a boat. I’m not very good at estimating crowds, but maybe 500-600 people were gathered on land. Despite the bad weather and despite the late hour, as our film unspooled at midnight.

As a further warm-up we watched “Aquarium“, a very good short film directed by Bård Røssevold. He’s a filmmaker we’ll definitely see more from in the near future.

Then we screened our film for the first time with an audience. There were a lot of laughs, and at a crucial point in the movie, spontaneous applause/cheers when Treholt accomplishes something quite out of the ordinary. This is of course a big relief for us filmmakers. Speaking for myself, I was overjoyed at how well the film played and with the unique setting for it.

My camera couldn’t capture the mood of the screening very well, because it was just too dark. But here are a couple of glimpses:

Some of the audience watching the movie. Very dark photo by Eric Vogel.
More audience. Photo by Eric Vogel.

We’re of course anxious to see how it goes when we unspool the movie before a nationwide audience in under two weeks. But we can definitely breathe a little easier when the big premiére weekend is upon us thanks to the experience from the row-in at Giske.

A big thank you again to everyone who showed up with or without their boats, and to the festival organizers (who were excellent hosts), the sponsors and projection crew. If you ever get a chance to go to Giske, do it! And bring a movie if you can.