A cabin in the woods, urban youth on holiday, a local redneck driller killer… That’s Tuddal for you, the Norwegian zero budget torture slasher that was as much a learning experience as it was a film project. Meet the minds behind Tuddal in this exclusive interview.
Tuddal is a slasher, splatter and serial killer film that probably was 2009’s most independently made horror film in Norway. It was written to use private locations and personal items that the crew already owned, and during filming, major portions of the dialogue wasn’t even written down. Nordic Fantasy spoke to director-actors David Solbjørg and Kjetil Kolbjørnsrud about the motivations and hazards of shooting with friends, without a budget and learning by doing.
Nordic Fantasy: Tuddal is a real place in Telemark county; did the locals object to the area being portrayed as redneck killer territory?
David & Kjetil: The truth of that is… we never asked! The filming was actually done in one of the crew members cabin, simply because that was where we were going on our actual cabin trip that year.
Nordic Fantasy: The movie was actually planned as a short film. What happened to make you decide on going for a feature length film?
David & Kjetil: When the rough edit was completed the film was at 50 minutes. And we felt, “we’re so close!” so we decided to fill in the blanks (but actually according to the script). And of course the credit… I mean, short film… come on! 🙂 By the way, we never made a short film before either!
Nordic Fantasy: Are there any particular films that inspired the group to make the movie, or was it a general interest in horror films?
David & Kjetil: Obviously it’s a general interest in horror films. Although the writer (David) did find a lot of inspiration from the Rob Zombie splatter/horror House of Thousand Corpses.
Nordic Fantasy: Why did you decide to make a slasher-type splatter film set in the woods, and not in the city? And slasher vs. torture porn, did you think about that?
David & Kjetil: Tuddal seems to be a bit of both. There are various reasons. The cost is a huge factor as our budget was non-existent. And there’s a more artistic reason as well, as we wanted to play on people’s prejudice towards village people and fear of the unknown.
Nordic Fantasy: The acting in the films seems quite improvised and natural. Did you aim for a natural style?
David & Kjetil: In the script the dialogs weren’t final and so the improvisation is a natural consequence of that. The script was about 12 pages.
Nordic Fantasy: How was the casting done?
David & Kjetil: Well, we thought about hiring Johnny Depp for the character Kalle. But we decided that he was too expensive. Seriously though, we have a group of people who’s a little experienced with amateur projects (small ones) from www.kakekommisjonen.com. Other than that we just picked out a bunch of friends. Although we tried to narrow it down to whoever we thought would do a good job. But without an audition of course!
Nordic Fantasy: Were all the actors also horror converts when you asked to join, or did you have to convince some of them to participate?
David & Kjetil: We didn’t really have to convince anyone. Although there was one girl we asked to play a naked half butchered corpse in a freezer… She decided not to join for some reason.
David & Kjetil: As some of the above replies indicate, we didn’t really spend that much time preparing the dialogs. The writer had an idea on how the dialect was spoken, but we decided it would take too long to learn the killer how to speak it. So we told him to just try!
Nordic Fantasy: As the budget was virtually zero, what was the challenge in writing the film, in terms of not adding expensive scenes and details?
David & Kjetil: That’s why we ended up in a cabin in the woods that’s owned by one of us and with the effects that we have. As to the writing that was actually quite a challenge. We had to constantly write scenes to fit with the spots and items we already had, and that was quite a mind job.
Nordic Fantasy: What was the most elaborate or difficult scene or special effect to shoot?
David & Kjetil: Several scenes were hard to shoot, mostly because of technical issues like no fly cam (steady cam) except for the last scene. We ended up with actually building our own fly cam, out of wood of course! We had no lighting so obviously that was a huge issue as well. So most of the filming were done during daylight. But to select the hardest scene I guess that would be the last scene with Juni inside the cabin.
Nordic Fantasy: Where did you draw the line in terms of showing graphic violence; was it a budget and time question, or moral limits?
David & Kjetil: There were some scenes in the script we simply couldn’t do due to money and equipment. The moral limits wasn’t a big deal for us, more so for the actors in terms of nudity.
Nordic Fantasy: How long did it take to shoot the film, and how long was post-production?
David & Kjetil: The shooting was divided in approximately three parts over a time span of one month and altogether one week in actual work days. New record? The post-production however is a different chapter entirely. We had to learn editing techniques and the actual programs as we used them. Halfway through we noticed that the sound was too poor for a feature film. So we decided to dub just about the entire movie, I bet most people didn’t notice that! And then another thought crushed our mind, music! We couldn’t use copyrighted music! So we had to compose music for the entire film and that took a hell of a lot time!!! Well, in the end it took us altogether one year from script to release on December 12, 2009. (Yes, we have a life as well.)
Nordic Fantasy: The ending of the film suggests a sequel. Is one being planned or at least thought about?
David & Kjetil: There’s actually been several requests about that. At the moment we haven’t planed anything in particular. But we sure would love to make another movie or join another project and learn more. Time will show. We have been thinking about creating a ghost movie or at least something close to that. We love movies like The Orphanage, Stir of Echoes and The Others.
Nordic Fantasy: If you make another horror movie, do you think it will be zero budget again, or would you prefer a little bit money?
David & Kjetil: A zero budget movie was great fun! However, we’d like to push our limits more the next time. Truth be told, this film was from the start a test-project to see if we were able to pull it off. We never expected any public attention.
Nordic Fantasy: How has the audience reacted to the film? Any international feedback yet?
David & Kjetil: The response has been pretty good, people seem to enjoy it, knowing that this is an amateur/low budget film. We had some feedback from a small international distributer after a film festival in France. Most of the international response has been through sales on Amazon.
Nordic Fantasy: Norwegian horror movies are enjoying quite some success these days, but do you think movies like Tuddal will make the Norwegian horror scene grow from below so that we get to see even more splatter films up here?
David & Kjetil: We certainly hope we’ve inspired people to create more amateur movies. It’s been a great experience and good fun!