To start things off, can you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi, everybody! My name is Kjell Hammerø, and I`m the writer and director of an upcoming film called ”Entombed”. I`m based in Norway, in the city of Bergen, where the film also has been produced.
Kjell Hammerø: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1473115/?ref_=tt_ov_dr
How did you get your start in the film industry?
I started in the film industry in 1990. Even though Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, there was not much of a film industry back then (or even now). I simply started out because I wanted to make movies. So, I did some short-films and made a living making industrials and commercials. I also started to teach film in schools and film-clubs. For the past ten years I`ve worked as a teacher in writing/directing at a 2-year film-school in Bergen.
Can you tell us anything about your movie Entombed?
Absolutely! It`s a psychological thriller, with some horror-elements to it. The story evolve around three persons seeking shelter under the ground after a pandemic has broken out, the civilization has collapsed - and they must find a way to survive.
At its core, the film is about three persons who lack the ability to find a solution to the situation they`re in. Instead they become a deadly threat to each other. They all have different agendas. They start to go behind each other backs and conspire. So, they themselves turns a hopeless situation into an even more hopeless and dangerous situation. I guess I wanted to say something about the human condition at its worst.
The link the story has to the current corona-virus situation in the world is coincidental, the main shoot of the film was made in summer 2018, and some was shot in 2019. But, now the corona-situation is here, at our doorstep. And I think the film is relevant for what`s happening now. E.g. if you look at Donald Trump, how he (in my opinion) politicizes the current situation with the corona virus; he has his agenda - he aims for his own personal goals rather than doing what`s best for society at large, and many people as a result are dying unnecessary. I don`t want to seem too pretentious about it, but somehow I feel that “Entombed” tells a story in miniature that we can relate to, both emotionally and as a society.
I would also like to say that the film is not a typical genre-film. It has genre-elements in it, but it has its own concept, its own twists and turns and it`s very character driven. And it`s not a gory film, it`s more psychological. I hope we`ve made something original and a bit different. Maybe a little fun too, in a dark way. But the audience will tell us.
What do you consider to be the strongest element of your work?
It`s difficult for me to pick out one strong element. I think that a director has to know a lot about all the elements that makes a movie, because if you think about it – a movie is made out of many elements put together – and all the elements has to fit together like a puzzle to make it work.
I do know a lot about the different elements that makes a movie. I have to, to be able to direct. But there`s also a crew, and they are specialized craftsmen/women. And they know more than me about their specific craft. But I know enough about their craft to be able to communicate with them, and to work with them to find good solutions, and make sure that everyone works towards the same goal and vision. The same goes for the actors. So maybe the strongest element is knowledge about all elements. All in all I guess I think of myself as a storyteller, and film is the format I want to tell stories in.
Can you tell us about the greatest moment in your film career?
Hopefully, the greatest moment is yet to come. Nothing particularly springs to mind. There are good moments, and just as many bad moments – as any filmmaker would tell you.
Do you think you've changed as a Director since you first started?
A lot. In the beginning I thought, as many young filmmakers do, that the film which I had in my inner-eye, that`s the film I´m going to get up on the screen, and it will be exactly as I have imagined it to be.
Now I see it as a collaborative art, there are many talented people involved who contributes to the result. As a director, now I`m more concerned about bringing out the best in those I work with, and give them the room to be creative. Very often, within their field of expertise, the crew and the actors will come up with much better ideas and solutions than I have. And then I just have to be smart enough to use those ideas. It will only make the film better.
But off course – in the process - make sure that everyone works towards the same goal and the same vision, because only the director really has that overview. I work with crew and actors to find the best solutions on how to reach for the goal I`m aiming for, that`s why they are there – to help me get my vision onto the screen.
I learned the hard way, that to force out a detailed vision you have in your head without involving crew and the actors in the creative process, will only make you an unhappy and miserable director.
How did you come up with the idea for your film?
“Entombed” is a low-budget feature. So, I started a little backwards; I knew that I wanted to make a film, and didn`t want to spend a lot of time on financing. So, before I started out with a specific idea, I tried to map out the possibilities – and most of all – the limitations of making a low-budget film.
We had to shoot it in a short period of time, and with few actors. Early on I decided on only three characters / main actors. And to save time, shoot most of the film in one main location, because moving the crew around on different locations is too time consuming and expensive. And early on find a location that I felt we could build something visual interesting out from. So, I built the story out from those premises. I then I knew it was doable, already before I started writing a script.
And then I just developed the concept from there; genre, character development, building the plot and the theme of the film etc.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming project(s)?
I do have two projects that I want to make. But we`ll have to see what happens next... It depends on so many factors.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to try a career in Director/Producer?
When I started out, it was very difficult. Everything was very expensive. Now, after the digital revolution in film, the tools are available for everyone and the quality is superb. So, if you want to make movies, you don`t really have a good excuse to not do it.
Now, making movies is for everyone who wants to. My advice is to get behind the camera and start make short-films. Work with the lighting, camera-movements, learn those lenses. And don`t forget sound! It`s just as important as the image. Then start editing. Start telling stories. For each short-film you make, you´ll get better.
If you could work with any Producer who would they be and why?
Now that Harvey Weinstein is out the game, I have absolutely no idea.
There are so many good movies in different genres, so that`s a tough one. I don`t think that I can pick one favorite movie. But one of the movies that impress me the most is “Schindler´s List”.
Off course, Spielberg is the most successful director in film history. To me “Schindler´s List” is his masterpiece, and what I can`t wrap my head around is how managed to tell so many parallel stories in that film, without the audience ever losing track of what`s going on.
But other directors, like Hitchcock; he was probably a more important director, as he defined cinematic techniques we still use today. I don`t know how to compare a film from the 60s with a film from the 90s. Or the 2000s.
What is the last horror film you saw? What did you think of it?
It was an old one, saw it yesterday. “The Changeling” (1980). It is pretty good. But I don`t think it would scare the audience of today.
Favorite country or place?
My sofa. In Norway.
Do you know anything about Sweden?
Sure, I`m from Norway, Swedens neighbouring country. Been there twice. Volvo, Saab, Ikea, Abba, etc. But most important of all, one of the greatest directors ever, Ingmar Bergman was Swedish. I still watch his films every now and then.
Anything else you want to mention?
Yes, I would like to thank the amazing actors and crew of “Entombed” for their great effort to get the film made. Thanks!
And stay safe, everyone!