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Door E. Frog
11/08/2011

Casper Haugegaard Interview

Casper Haugegaard Interview

Een Nederlandse vertaling is ook beschikbaar.

Interview with Casper Haugegaard, director of Danish zombieflick Opstandelsen/The Resurrection

Making a movie is easy. Making a good movie, well, that’s an entirely different matter. And with people having easy access to cameras and software these days and thinking of themselves as the next Scorsese or Cameron, there’s a lot of trash floating around. (and by thrash, I mean utter garbage, not the fun kind) Something that’s especially true for the independent and low budget horror genre. It’s seldom that you come across something innovating or even worthwhile, so when Opstandelsen/Resurrection came along, well, let’s say we at Frog Bros were pleasantly surprised. Opstandelsen is a thrilling zombieflick, with style to spare, so we just had to talk with it’s director, Casper Haugegaard.




E.: With Opstandelsen you went back to the origins of the modern zombiefilm with people trapped in a single location, besieged by zombies. It’s obvious that Romero’s classic Night was an inspiration, why go that route? 

CH: I was never inspired by Night. I can see why one would think that, but I saw Night for first time after actually writing the script forOpstandelsen. The inspiration for the film was definitely from classic horror, but it never really came from zombiefilms. The religious aspect of Opstandelsen was the most interesting part to me, so the inspiration came much more from films about the devil, possession and stuff like that. And making the film didn't really feel like going back to the origins of zombiefilm as I treated it more as a classic religious horrorfilm that just happens to contain zombies.


E.: It’s a story that has been told dozens of times, but you made it your own by employing a visual esthetic that elevates it from the crowd. The result is a very stylized zombieflick, something I haven’t quite seen before. Was that something you meant to do from the outset?

CH: The film is wrapped in that classic horror template of people being trapped trying to get out, and it's nowhere near original. But it did feel special to me from the beginning and we took it extremely serious during production. And to me that automatically spawned a visual style that was a bit more stylized then usual low budget horror. But the style varies a lot and that's one thing I really like about the cinematography of the film, how random it actually is. A lot of times it goes straight from intense shaky close-ups to slow stylized dolly, without even flinching. This is mainly caused by the fact that me and cinematographer Michael Panduro had very different agendas about the camerawork. He was doing these very dirty down to earth handheld images and whenever I got a hold of the camera I went as stylized as possible. So it was never really planned to be that way, but it gives a weird schizophrenic feel to the cinematography, that I think makes it fun to watch.


E.: God, damnation and religious imagery are recurring themes in Opstandelsen, are you a religious man, Casper? 

CH: Jesus is my homeboy when it comes to horror, but that is where our relationship ends.



E.: You shot in a real church, was it easy to get permission?

CH: It took a lot of asking around. I called up a lot of churches to talk about doing the film there, and conversation always went short when I mentioned what kind of film it was. So after a while it felt kinda pointless asking, but we had to shoot in a real church as we didn’t have the money to fake it in any way, so we kept on contacting different churches around the country. After a while time, Thor Boding (assistant producer) got in touch with Hans Maaløe who turned out to be a pretty important player in making the film a reality. He was the minister of a small church in the middle of nowhere and actually wanted to meet up with us to hear about our project. So we went to his church and told him about the story and how we wanted to do a film with blood, guts and zombies in it. And surprisingly enough he didn't mind at all, but found the project very exiting and really wanted to help us out. He even ended up starring in the film himself, as the priest. And watching him prophesizing the zombie-apocalypse from his own pulpit, in is own church, was just priceless!


E.: It’s a zombie movie, so you obviously had to include some gore. There’s some nasty stuff going on in the movie, yet somehow it feels quite restrained. A conscious choice or due to budget restrictions?

CH: A mix maybe. Some scenes are more restrained that I would have liked 'em to be, but at the same time it was never meant to be over the top crazy funny gore. It didn't necessarily need to be a hundred percent realistic but it should be somewhat believable to fit the very serious vibe of the film.


E.: I’m a fan of the old “shuffler” zombie. In your film you used the more aggressive, running type, would it have worked with slower zombies?

CH: It could have worked for sure, it would just have been a completely different film with the slow moaning zombies. The modern aggressive type makes it a lot easier to make scenes intense and chaotic, so that’s the main reason for my choice. But if I had to do the film all over again I think I would have actually chosen the "shufflers" and toned down the action of the film a bit.



E.: In hindsight, was it a good decision to do the movie in Danish? 

CH: I think it was. Most people who are into indie horror are also used to seeing a film in a foreign language, so I don't think the language is such a big problem. These days you see a lot of lowbudget stuff dubbed to English or done in English by actors or directors who clearly do not master the language. And I can understand why directors do it, as it is stupid not also to try and reach a foreing audience. But the result of it is rarely any good and I think it gives a certain quality to a film when it's performed in a language that is unfamiliar to you. The main setback caused by the language of Opstandelsen is it's been harder to get it through to the American audience. For example it seems that a lot of US distributors loose interest mainly because it is in Danish. 


E.: For me, the ending worked like a charm, but I can easily understand that some people might feel cheated? Did you get mixed reactions?

CH: It's a very sudden ending and I think a lot of people who watched it on DVD felt a bit cheated, mainly because it isn't really a full feature and that's what you expect to get when you buy a DVD. I never got any complaints about the ending at festival-screenings. Personally I love the ending and I think it works even better when people feel the film is over too soon. The running time of the film (50min) is also a thing I'm very fond of as it's basically just tailored for the story. Opstandelsen was never aimed for any particular audience or market, as I didn’t think anyone would give a shit about a little film like this. So it's written, shot and edited without any outside restrictions or any considerations about how it would do for the DVD market, tv, filmfestivals ect. It’s just done exactly how I felt like doing it at the time.


E.: 25 years ago, the springboard for getting into movies was directing commercials and later on it became music videos. You have a history as a music video director. Does that theory still apply in 2011?

CH: I wouldn't know. It seems to me that music videos are the springboard to getting into commercials. And from there it's hard to move on to doing film as you make more money doing commercials than anything else. To me music videos have just been a good way of getting a budget to experiment with different things, and a way of helping out smalltime bands getting their name out there as well as them helping me by promoting my work to their fan base.


E.: Opstandelsen was made on a tight budget, if you had money to burn, what kind of movie would you like to make?

CH: I would do a historical martial arts porno with lots of explosions.



E.: Is there a lot of support for young filmmakers in Denmark? 

CH: In terms of funding I wouldn't really know as I haven't really entered the funding system. Young filmmakers that get funding up here often end up doing boring stuff, and even though it seems that the funding system is slowly opening up to more genre orientated films, Danish filmmakers are just boring as fuck about how to approach it. But there’s a lot of support from people in general when you're looking for locations, extras and so forth. People here are generally very interested in filmmaking and sometimes go a very long way to help you out. Plus there's a pretty good community of low-budget filmmakers helping each other out, so it’s getting easier to make good things happen with very little funds.


E.: We’ve seen an awful lot of good genrestuff coming out of Scandinavia the past few years. Frostbite, Dead Snow, Let the Right One In, Trollhunter, etc. Do you guys have something in the water?

CH: True story. But whatever it is, it's been avoiding Danish waters so far. We haven't had anything nearly as good as "Låt den rätte komma in" or "Trolljegeren" coming out of Denmark yet. But it seems that genrefilms are getting more and more interesting to filmmakers here, so we'll soon be flooded by Danish genrefilms.


E.: You’re working on something a little bit different now, Carpe Rectum, which will be shooting in 2012. My imagination is running wild with a title like that, what is it really about?

CH: "Carpe Rectum" is kind of a feel good love story. I'm currently writing, so it's hard to for me to say more about it at this time.


E.: Will Casper Haugegaard be returning to the zombie genre?

CH: Never!


E.: Thank you very much!
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