They are too young to vote, drive cars or smoke, but they are allowed to shut down Oslo, handle firearms and command 100 extras – when directing science fiction films!
The dynamic duo Jarand Breian Herdal (writer/director) and Jens Peder Hertzberg (director of photography and editor) has just launched Everywhen everywhere, at least everywhere in Norway. Set a few decades into the future, when teleporting is as normal as buses and trains, Everywhen is the story of several million people missing as technology starts to fail, bit after bit. The main character finds himself in the wrong dimension, and must find a way back so he can prevent his brother from dying.
Here’s their lowdown on first-time film making, the corruption of technology and the dangers of teleporting, in their first ever international interview.
Q: Could you first introduce yourself, please?
Jarand & Jens: We work with film as a duo: Jarand Breian Herdal as the Writer/Director/Producer, and Jens Peder Hertzberg as Director of Photography and Editor. We’ve worked together since 9th grade, being 14 years old when we decided to aim for a career within this ridiculously awesome occupation (if you can actually call it that?). We started out making shorts, but eventually we just asked ourselves the question: has any 16-year olds made a feature film yet? And that’s how Everywhen came to be!
Q: Why did you choose science fiction as your big debut project? It’s a hard genre, most people choose something else, like horror or drama.
Jarand & Jens: We’re very comfortable in the sci-fi genre, having made several shorts from before. CGI and visual effects have always been of interest, so this gave us an opportunity to tell and show something fresh. We could be as creative as we wanted to; no boundaries!
Q: It seems that some of your film influences comes from movies made long before you were born, can you say something about them?
Jarand & Jens: We were definitely most influenced by movies like Citizen Kane, Blade Runner, Inception, Looper and Children of Men. Sadly not too many of them were made before we were born, so we’re very interested in hearing more. We’re very visual when it comes to filmmaking and therefore appreciate good cinematography. Mixed with a good story, this makes an excellent combo. The mini-budget approach to Everywhen was mostly inspired by the movie Primer and Robert Rodriguez’ guerrilla technique, haha!
Q: In the Nordic region, sci-fi movies are almost never made, why do you think that is?
Jarand & Jens: In the Nordic region I think a lot of people are scared. The budgets are rumored to be incredibly high, the audience expect Hollywood effects (if any) and you are competing with one of the biggest countries in the world: America. This is why Everywhen is very “grounded” in its world and atmosphere. We couldn’t afford spaceships and laser-swords, so we did our take of the future.
adv. 1. At any or all times; every instant; always.
Q: Everywhen is Norway’s first sci-fi film in a decade, and the director is the youngest one ever to direct a feature in the country. You must be proud of that?
Jarand: I am, haha, I am very proud. The whole team, including crew and actors, are very happy with what has become Norway’s first sci-fi. Having international distribution in 11 countries, with an even more crazy iTunes deal coming up, we exceeded our wildest dreams and ambitions. We are truly thankful to all who’s given us a little slap on the back, bringing us another step further – or holding our hands along the way.
Q: They say that all good sci-fi is about the current society around us. What is your “message” that you want to tell with the film?
Jarand & Jens: We wanted to say that technology might go too far. As seen in Spike Jonze’s very recent film Her, it’s obvious that OSes like Apple iOS “Siri” might eventually replace human beings. Our message is that eventually technology will take a step back: it will ruin us, rather than bringing us forward. The big question in Everywhen is whether the person being teleported from a place, is the same when being reassembled in another. There’s a certain uncertainty about everything that we relay on today, so what happens when it stops or malfunctions?
Q: What were the biggest hurdles during the making of the film?
Jarand & Jens: The biggest hurdles were definitely that we were so young. As 16-year olds, people kept bossing [us around], throwing us out of locations, not taking us seriously etc. I hope we might have proven that age does not mean anything when it comes to ambition.
Q: Were there any problems you had not foreseen, that gave you “grey hairs” during the planning or production?
Jarand & Jens: Mostly the entire process. Filmmaking at this scale was completely new to us and we had nobody to guide us through it; we had to figure it out ourselves. Money was also an issue as new things kept needing attention that we had not foreseen at all! Suddenly duct tape was at the top of our budget, haha!
Q: Where there any scenes or effects you wanted to have in the film, but could not include because is was too difficult, expensive or time-consuming to create it?
Jarand & Jens: Actually, no. The script was written with a tight budget in mind. We worked around it and kept making scenes “bigger” by adding extras and bigger locations, rather than effects.
Q: The film must have been a big learning experience for everyone, what do you think you learned?
Jarand & Jens: Oh we learned everything. It’s crazy how much our next film C” is different from Everywhen. We’re very proud of Everywhen, especially because of what we accomplished. However, there’s always a ton you want to do different when it’s [finished] – but it’s always like that. It’s why Martin Scorsese and those guys are still making movies: you’re always hungry and think you can do better next time.
Q: The film has mostly amateur actors in it, how did you go about the casting?
Jarand & Jens: Jarand has acted a lot in Norway’s film industry when it comes to commercials. This gathered a lot of contacts eventually, so we used them – as well as websites, to reach out to up-and-coming actors.
Q: What cameras and editing software did you use?
Jarand & Jens: The film was shot on Red One and Red Scarlet, and edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. The visual effects were done solely in Adobe After Effects.
Q: Those weapons look quite realistic and professional, what are they and where did you get them from?
Jarand & Jens: Haha, we know! It’s freaky! We were lucky enough to know a guy named Martin Tennmann who loves airsoft guns. These look just like real weapons, except they shoot BB-bullets made out of plastic. We asked around and he eventually got us quite a few gas-driven guns that had realistic blow-back. Totally sold the effect!
Q: As “amateurs” and school teens, how did you get permission to shut down streets in central Oslo for certain scenes?
Jarand & Jens: We knew a guy, who knew a guy, who worked in the police. Basically, we got them in on the project: they liked it! After a little negotiating we were allowed to shut down Oslo’s main street for a few hours [with] fake SWATs with weapons drawn, tried to control a mob of 100 extras. It was amazing.
Q: The film is quite short for a feature, just over 60 minutes. Was that because of money, time or something else?
Jarand & Jens: Sadly, both money and time caused a few scenes to be taken out when shooting.
Q: Have you seen the other Scandinavian low budget sci-fi film that came out this year, the Swedish Threads of Destiny?
Jarand & Jens: We have not seen this film, but will definitely have a look at it!
Q: What’s your team’s next movie project, is that also sci-fi or something else?
Jarand & Jens: Our next project is a TV-series called Clowne, about a guy who has to spend the next three years of his life as a clown. Currently, we’ve only made the pilot, which premieres in Norway the 10th of March at a cinema, open to the public. It’s a tregedy-comedy very aware of its black humor. In other words, it’s something completely different! Of course, our goals are Netflix or other high-standing studios. Have a look at the trailer!
Q: Do you have any final advice to other sci-fi fans or directors who want to make a sci-fi film in Norway?
Jarand & Jens: We have one advice: Go for it. Stop dreaming and start writing. Pick up your camera, get your story out there and film it. Live the dream, it’s so much fun!