As Legends of Valhalla: Thor, Iceland’s first full-length animated film, and the nation’s most expensive film in history, gets its world premiere, Gudjon Ingi Kristjansson got a hold of the film’s director Oskar Jonasson, to ask him a few questions about this project, which is not only a milestone for Icelandic filmmaking, but also for Oskar, as this is his first animated project as director.

Gudjon, Filmophilia: What’s the main difference for you in directing an animated film as opposed to directing on a set?

Oskar Jonasson: The difference is staggering, the whole production process is completely different. When making an animated film, everything is decided in advance. It’s a lot more precise process, for example with very detailed storyboarding and a great deal of work on the characters’ movement and such. The animation process is more balanced, but takes longer from start to finish, and tests your patience a great deal.

Gudjon: The process of making such a big animated film, the first Icelandic full-length animated film, must put some pressure on you.

Oskar: Yes, there’s certainly pressure on me. I carry a big responsibility, a lot of people have dedicated an enormous amount of time, money and work into this film. The entire process at CAOZ spans over seven years, and almost three years for me. It’s a big crew and everyone is working on the film from a place of ambition.

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Gudjon: The film is originally recorded in English, although it’s an Icelandic production, and then dubbed for Icelandic release. Why did you take that approach?

Oskar: English is the international language of films and this was done mainly to more easily reach a bigger market than is usually done with Icelandic films. The entire voice-acting and sound recording was done in Ireland.

Gudjon: Do you have distribution deals in place for other countries than Iceland?

Oskar: We’ve sold the film to over 50 countries already and we’re really excited about that. We’re scheduling an international roll-out early next year.

Gudjon: You also have a deal with European distributor and merchandise producing giant Egmont in place. Will we see Legends of Valhalla action figures?

Oskar: I don’t know much yet about what kind of merchandise is being produced, but they’re planning a pan-media merchandise in relation to the film.

Gudjon: Thor, and in fact the whole world of the Pagan gods and mythology has gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. What do you credit for this sudden popularity?

Oskar: In my opinion, the Pagan mythology has been neglected for a long time, but is thankfully emerging now. It’s an endless source of stories full of conflict, ideas and adventures. International interest is growing, and the Marvel Studios-produced Thor, which came out this spring, is only helping us – and we feel a lot of excitement around our film.

Gudjon: How do you feel about 3D in filmmaking, and how did the decision to make this film in 3D go down with you?

Oskar: The decision to make it in 3D was made in the middle of the pre-production process. We had started some animation, and had to alter a couple of shots to adjust to the different medium. I immediately liked the idea. The visual side of the story fits 3D well, hurling hammers and flying goats – all the characters and sets are three-dimensional in their nature, and the 3D makes the film more beautiful and tangible. We’re witnessing a very entertaining evolution of filmmaking today.

Gudjon: The film’s title looks a little like sequels are already being planned. Is that true?

Oskar: If the film’s a success, the possibility of a sequel is very open. “Legends of Valhalla” is a name for a whole world, with possibilities for computer games, television series and of course more films.

On that note, Oskar had to continue his work in a hectic final week before the premiere, and besides Legends of Valhalla: Thor, he is also working hard on a third season of the popular Icelandic television drama Press, which will start running locally in March 2012. Check out the trailer for Legends of Valhalla: Thor, out in Iceland now:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqkqao2m6xo]

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