Fan art!

We recently received some amazing fan art that we’d like to share with you. These pieces come from Norwegian concept artist/illustrator John S. Jamtli, who also did duty as a ninja extra on our film. His keen eye really picked up some great details from our set, as you can see below.

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"Scuba Treholt" by John S. Jamtli

…and there’s more! John was also inspired to create a new comic book character: Kaninja! (“Kanin” is Norwegian for rabbit.). We certainly hope to see more of him!

"Kaninja" by John S. Jamtli
"Kaninja" by John S. Jamtli

How cool is this?! Thanks John! To see more of his work, visit his site.

Have YOU made any images or videos inspired by our project or ninjas in general, that you would like to share with the world?  Email us!

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

The Commander’s Watch part 2

Click the photo to check out a Facebook gallery with more shots of this fully functional prop, constructed by Thomas Cappelen Malling.

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Squirrel suit

Here’s an early concept sketch of Norwegian Ninja escape & evasion gear for low-altitude flight; the “Squirrel Suit”. Due to constraints regarding real-world application, the suit was later re-designed. Drawing upon the experience and keen lust for life of the guys who would later rely on them, the final suits really work!

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Photographic evidence #3

1st AD Håkon Sørensen in the studio. Photo by Eric Vogel.
Filming SFX in the studio: 1st AD Håkon Sørensen. Photo by Eric Vogel.

MUST LOVE ANIMALS

Shooting “Norwegian Ninja” we got to hang out with lynx; wolves; rabbits; penguins; alpacas; dogs; sheep; red fox; goats; geese; deer; elk and reindeer plus the beautiful little girl pictured below.

Heh! The animals and us – we look so different. Yet, back in the old days we were identical because once, we were the same weird-looking (in lack of better information) pre-historic salamander. Anyway, we struggled together because we were the same. Whenever I meet an animal, I think to myself, hoping the animal somehow understands; “Hey! Nice! You became an… aardvark. Good one! As it happens, I come from the same unbroken chain of winning genes myself. Became human. But for old times sake I sure do hope we can be friends”

Endangered species: There are less than 50 adult arctic foxes left in Norway. Below we see André, one of our Norwegian Ninjas, hooking up with one of them. She ran off with my waffle and I didn’t even get her name!

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Arctic fox. Photo: Trond Høines (framegrab)

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It’s a wrap

Sunrise at one of our sets. Photo by Petter Løken.
Sunrise at one of our sets. Photo by Petter Løken.

After 41 days of principal photography we’re now finished shooting everything! Thanks to EVERYONE involved in making this stage of the project happen. It’s been wonderful!

The post production elves are now ready in their dark caves to hack away at the precious raw materials for many months to come.

The blog, our Facebook page etc. will of course continue to live and breathe, and we have many good things to share with you in the future. So please stick around, and continue to spread the word.

Cast and release date!

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Actors Jon Øigarden and Mads Ousdal. Photo by Ellen Ugelstad.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we proudly announce our further cast and give you a brand new publicity still!

Actors:

Mads Ousdal (Detektor, Kodenavn: Hunter)
Jon Øigarden (Berlinerpoplene, Kurt Blir Grusom)
Linn Stokke (Orkestergraven, Hotel St. Pauli)
Amund Maarud (gitarist og vokalist i bandet The Grand)
Dean Erik Andersen (Great Garlic Girls)
Terje Strømdahl (DeUsynlige, Ulvenatten)
Martinus Grimstad Olsen
Øyvind Venstad Kjeksrud (Trigger)
Henrik Horge (Max Manus, Honningfellen)
Emil Johnsen (Behandlingen, Isolerad)

(Norwegian production names given, sorry about that.)

We’ve quite simply got a killer ensemble here. But you’ll have to take our word on that for a little while longer.

How long, you may ask?
The Norwegian theatrical release is set for August 13th 2010. And yes, that’s a Friday…

SFX / VFX shooting period

This last Friday, we shot the last few scenes with actors, and also said goodbye to some of our excellent crew members who are now finished with their work on “Kommandør Treholt & Ninjatroppen”. A big thanks goes out to all those who’ve been involved so far. It has definitely been a rewarding shoot!

But we’re not done yet. In the week to come, we will focus purely on SFX (Special Effects) and VFX (Visual Effects) scenes. Jokingly, we refer to this as the “nerd squad” part of our production. Supervised by the production design/props, pyrotechnical and post production teams we will shoot miniatures, background plates, explosions, prop inserts, stills, some more animal scenes and other elements we need for the film.

As a former subscriber to the official Star Wars newsletter “Bantha Tracks” in the eighties, which often featured articles on how ILM worked with VFX – and as a rabid fan of effects work in general, this is for me one of the coolest parts of the entire production. It takes a lot of painstaking planning and patience, but shooting these things is crucial to our story. Looking forward to it!

Testing pyrotechnics. Photo: Magnus Flåto.
Boom one! Pyrotechnics test. Explosion by Rune Baggerud, photo by Magnus Flåto.
Boom two!
Boom two! Pyrotechnics test. Explosion by Rune Baggerud, photo by Magnus Flåto.

Photographic evidence #2

Focus puller Magnus Flåto and our most impressive lens. Photo by Trond Høines.
Focus puller Magnus Flåto and our most impressive lens. Photo by Trond Høines.