A greeting from the Orion Patrol

The Orion Patrol, Greenland.

Recently, we here at Ninja Force HQ received a communiqué from the mysterious Orion Patrol, recorded in May on the icy wastes of Greenland. These guys are related to the historical Ninja Force and apparently still operating. I’ll let them introduce themselves:

Ever since Norway won the sovereignty on Erik the Red’s Land in north-east Greenland, against Denmark in The Hague in 1933, the Orion Patrol have upheld Norwegian sovereignty by patrolling the region. On days with fair weather they sometimes have time to train. In this clip they demonstrate a technique from the book “Invisibility in Combat”, called “Bok Choi”.

Thanks for taking the time in making and sending this, guys. We really appreciate it!

Main poster and more

Our main poster for the Norwegian release was revealed a couple of weeks ago, but I thought it warranted an English language blog post as well, to give it some more context. Click the image to embiggen!

Concept: Thomas Cappelen Malling, photos: Ellen Ugelstad, graphic design: Alen Grujic.

The poster motif has its roots in a poster writer/director Thomas designed together with illustrator Harald Frøland already in 2007, as a below-the-radar and separate project. Only very few prints were made. One of them was displayed in a local watering hole here in Oslo, to subtly confuse and enthuse patrons.

Here it is (click to enlarge):

"There will be Night". Concept: Thomas Cappelen Malling, illustration: Harald Frøland.

The image of Ninja Master Treholt towering over Oslo, stayed with us. We decided early in pre production to explore the same motif as our main poster. During production we did two days of still photography in a studio setting, running in parallel with the main unit. In breaks from filming, the actors in full costume visitied unit photographer Ellen’s studio corner, in both cases set up close to where we were shooting. She took loads of pictures with the poster and other marketing materials in mind, and this has served us well. Additional poster elements were culled from the RED material we shot for the film itself.

We gave a lot of thought to the look, researching eighties video covers and hand drawn theatrical posters. As we got further into post production, designer Alen came up with a technique to create a painterly expression that we really fell for. This style has been used also in a lot of other materials we have prepared, like character-based ads as well as banners.

Here’s one example, a full-page print ad that was recently out (also clickable):

Photo: Ellen Ugelstad, graphic design Alen Grujic.
Photo: Ellen Ugelstad, graphic design: Alen Grujic.

The poster has by now been sent out to most Norwegian cinemas.
If you don’t see it at your next trip to the movies, ask them to put it up!

Row-in Cinema, with Ninjas

Update Tuesday July 27: added a photo of ongoing preparations, below.

A very special event is coming up: an exclusive pre-premiére screening of “Kommandør Treholt & Ninjatroppen” featuring a row-in audience! Yes, that means boats. Lots of boats. This is also the absolute first public screening of the film anywhere, and we’re happy to let it happen in such amazing circumstances courtesy of the Summer Party festival.

The date is Friday July 30th, and the place to be is Giske, near Ålesund:

View Larger Map

The nature up there is fantastic and the band line-up stellar. Well, it gets only sweeter from here when you learn that this festival – which attracts 30.000 visitors – is also a FREE festival. All you need to bring is some food you’re willing to share, and you’re golden.

The screening itself will be quite something. Put together by the very experienced crew of AS Filmprojeksjon, this will be one of Norway’s biggest outdoor cinema events ever. Because ocean winds can carry away the sound, audio will get piped out to a special radio channel that you can pick up on your boat radio or a regular receiver (make sure to bring a portable radio!). The screen itself will be constructed with a wooden frame and set up out by the water so boats can line up, but it will also be possible to see the film from the shore of course.

And there’s even more to make this a truly special event: namely seeing our fine actor Amund Maarud (who plays the ninja apprentice “Humla”) and his band The Grand, who will perform at the festival the same day.

So what are you waiting for? Come up and see us, our movie, and experience this amazing festival. More info at their official site. An article in Norwegian with more on the row-in can be found over at Sunnmørsposten.

Rigging the huge screen. Photo by Ante Giskeødegård.

Post production roundup

Time for an update: We’ve completed the film!

King Olav V approves.

Just moments ago, we finished a screening at Filmens Hus in Oslo for a final check of the 35mm answer print sound. Everything was OK. Before the weekend we checked the image side of things and gave that a thumbs up.

Whew. So with the first film print finished, it means of course that every last creative decision to do with the film itself has now been made. Imagine that. I’m very happy with the final result and the effort put in by the team during a full nine months of post production.

The only thing between us and the big screen rollout now are a few measly weeks on the calendar! That’s equal parts scary and exhilarating, of course. From now on we’ll start on the distribution prints (35mm as well as digital prints) plus we’re working on a whole lot of marketing materials. Expect some very nice things to appear in the time to come.

Here are a few snapshots of life behind the scenes in the last couple of months’ work on the movie.
People, places and processes. Photos by me except where noted.

Keen motorist/distributor Kjetil Omberg, graphic designer Alen Grujic and the Ninjamobile!
Thomas busy with the last shot we did for the movie, on the floor of post house Sement & Betong. Care to guess what it is?
The mighty Hydrocopter gets a proper mix at Storyline Studios, Jar.
The sound department stocked a considerable selection of exotic snacks for the final mixes. Essential.
Music talk with composer Gaute Tønder and director Thomas at the Tordenfilm office.
Visual effects supervisor Ludvig Friberg finds something funny.
Proof that we’ve made a movie is in those film cans! From the wonderful Park Bio in Copenhagen where we screened the answer print last Friday. From left: Yours truly, cinematographer Trond Høines, colorist Christian Berg-Nielsen and director Thomas. Photo by Pelle Folmer.

Trailer on Youtube & website update

Click for huge.

We’ve released both the Norwegian and English subtitled versions of our trailer on Tordenfilm’s Youtube Channel. They’re also embedded below.

A big thank you goes to everyone who have given us feedback since it first appeared on Twitch and P3.no last week. The response has simply been wonderful.

Our Norwegian-language website now has more content too, including actor bios, wallpapers and other info.

Finally, if you’re new to this whole thing, don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join us on Wreckamovie to get the full picture!

The Ninja Force in Cannes

Eric’s note: this is a special photo report by the Ninja Force’s Cannes intern and all-round good-guy Klaus Sandvik. He’s finishing his producing studies at the Norwegian National Filmschool in Lillehammer this summer, and joined us for a week of Ninja activities during the festival. He participated in sales meetings, helped organize press work, ran errands, and of course dressed up as a Ninja for our special 17th of May gathering!

Here he is:

Klaus writes:

During the last few days, Norwegian Ninja writer/director Thomas C. Malling and lead actor Mads Ousdal visited the Cannes Film Festival to do press and promo work, mainly aimed at the home audience.

Interview in the Cannes harbor. From left: lead actor Mads Ousdal, writer/director Thomas Cappelen Malling, distributor Kjetil Omberg and journalist Frank Johnsen. Photo by Klaus Sandvik.

Our Nordic distributor Euforia Film also hosted a special ninja barbecue on the 17th of May, aka. the Norwegian Constitutional Day,

Ready for celebrating the 17th of May. From left: writer/director Thomas Cappelen Malling, lead actor Mads Ousdal and producer Eric Vogel. Photo by Klaus Sandvik.

With smuggled Norwegian sausages, lompe (potato tortillas) and other treats on offer, friends, journalists, cinema owners and other industry workers came by to celebrate. Yours truly and Euforia boss Kjetil Omberg manned the BBQ. The atmosphere was good, and it was easy to forget that you actually were at the world’s biggest film festival – a good distance away from beloved Norway.

Barbecue party at the Euforia villa. Photo by Klaus Sandvik.
Barbecue party at the Euforia villa pt. II. Photo by Klaus Sandvik.

In Cannes, producer Eric Vogel has been working on securing the film’s international launch. Under the title “Norwegian Ninja” the movie is already being offered to international buyers by the excellent sales company Celluloid Nightmares, following a deal that was made earlier in the festival. And according to Eric, response is strong. So hopefully the movie will be available to watch at local cinemas and rental stores all over the world!


Old School 3-D

Eric’s note: this is a special report prepared by our post production coordinator Simen Nordskog.

DIY in progress. Screengrab from video by Simen Nordskog
DIY in progress. Screenshot from video by Simen Nordskog

To add even further to the richness and attention to detail of this film, director Thomas C. Malling invited me to take part in a project that would take the work of the VFX-department one step further …or one step back, I’m not sure which. The task was to make 80’s 3-D graphics look like they were home made. A tall and bizarre order indeed.

The solution was, not surprisingly, to actually make it all home made! Working in the same room as the VFX-guys at Sement & Betong, we declared ourselves the UV-department, got down on the floor and started building models from cardboard and some pieces of an old standee we found.

Cardboard workshop in progress. Photo by Eric Vogel

In just three (long) days we measured, cut, glued and painted several models. We also fashioned a grid for them all to stand on. The paint we used was UV-reactive so you won’t be surprised if I tell you the references to the 1982 classic Tron were many, and in many respects we took both technology and look back to that year.

Feeling quite happy with our effort over the last three days, and in eager anticipation we shot a few tests the night before shooting day.

Until we all get to see what it looks like in the finished movie, we can see that test footage in the video below.


Closing note: we had lots of help from the Wreck A Movie community to gather inspiration for these and other old school graphics in the film. Check out what our wreckers suggested!

Teaser poster

Right around now, our new teaser poster is finding its way to cinemas all over Norway.

The iconography should be very familiar to you, the dear readers of this very blog. As the label “teaser” implies, we will of course follow up with a smashing main poster as well as other goodies as we get closer to release.

If any of you spot the teaser in the wild, let us know when and where in the comments! Even better: snap a picture so we can see how it “plays” in the real world. Best of all: if you don’t see it displayed at your local (Norwegian) cinema – demand it!

Credits: photo background by Trond Høines, graphic design by Alen Grujic.

Note: We sadly don’t have this poster for sale or available to hand out. In an ideal world we’d of course send one for free to anyone who wanted it, but we only have a few of them around the office. Sorry.

Easter Greetings

Dear readers,

We’ve been keeping one last, central piece of the casting puzzle a deep secret for many months.
The time has now come to reveal it!

We’re proud to announce that the part of King Olav V of Norway, founder of the Royal Norwegian Ninja Force, is played by esteemed humorist/actor/musician/physician Trond-Viggo Torgersen! As fans of his work from our childhood up to and including our adult years, Trond-Viggo’s participation in our project is a matter of great joy for us. International fans may remember him from his hilarious turn in Bent Hamer’s film “O’Horten“, a part which also brought him award recognition.

Trond-Viggo Torgersen as King Olav. Photo by Ellen Ugelstad.

There’s an interview with Trond-Viggo and director Thomas over at Dagbladet.no (Norwegian language).

And without further ado – here’s the King’s message to his subjects for the Easter season:

Translation: “Dear Countrymen. Happy Easter!”

Edit: here it is on Youtube as well.

Alchemical sound

Let’s talk a little bit about sound.
Or as someone said: touch at a distance.

A US military "acoustic radar" from 1921! Click the image for info.

For a while already, our post production sound department has been working on creating the sonic universe for “Kommandør Treholt & Ninjatroppen” / “Norwegian Ninja”. And let me tell you, from what I’ve heard so far, this aspect of the movie is going to be wild! Following the script and directiorial concept of the movie, we have a license to go way beyond what can be considered “realistic” sound. To head deeply into the fantastical, and actually design sounds for things, characters and places from the ground up. It’s quite exciting. Our teaser shows some of this work already.

Of course, movie sound is never realistic in the real world sense – it’s a calculated and powerful tool to tell a cinematic story, no matter what genre you’re in. Even for the most “realistic” of documentaries, sound is carefully considered – if only to augment a sense of reality.

Research and exploration should be part of the process with post production sound for any project, but it definitely is integral for us. And I think our sound crew are having fun with it, because sometimes they send us…things. Like the video below.

Make sure you have sound turned on before you click!

So, what is that?

In technical terms, it’s the sound of dry ice, recorded with a hydrophone (the one being dipped) plus a contact mic placed underneath the beaker. In terms of where this will go in the movie, or whether it will go anywhere at all, you (and I) will have to wait a bit longer to find out. These quite alien sounds can end up being part of background atmospherics, maybe they will belong to some kind of Ninja machinery or even be used to describe a character’s inner emotional life, at a crucial turning point?

The video was mady by supervising sound editor Gisle Tveito and sound designer Fredric Vogel, at Storyline Studios‘ facility at Jar outside of Oslo.

Sound designer Fredric Vogel "mixing it up" in the studio.

To round off, here are a couple of recommendations related to sound work, not just in movies.

I very much enjoy reading sound designer Tim Prebble’s blog The Music Of Sound, and I think you will too! Also, check out the amazing documentary about the history of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – The Alchemists Of Sound. Both of these should be interesting also to non sound professionals, aka. regular folks.

If you have other links or recommendations, please post them in the comments!