Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Interview of Daniel Salmi, Moviemaker of "Elora"

An epic featuring Viking women and perhaps some warfare and a monster or two. Yes! It is coming. Film maker Daniel Salmi, from Sweden, is behind this epic. Today I interview the Swedish moviemaker regarding this project, the film "Elora." 

CJZ: Sweden in the time of Vikings! Men were men and swords were rampant. Women? Can you tell us about the women protagonists in your upcoming film, "Elora"?

Mr. Salmi: Sweden in the Viking age was manly dominant, but there are several grave mounds found all over Scandinavia with females who seemingly had remarkably high stature. They were buried like men, with swords and other articles of war.  Women had a high position in the society and women were often the head of the farm. You could see this as they were sort of like gatekeepers with a key tied to their belt. This was a token of that high stature. Some were also shield maidens and a big part of war. 

CJZ: The Casting so far looks wonderful. I noticed two lovely actresses (Emelie Dahlskog and Natasha Trager) have signed on. They look like they could be cheerleaders. In fact, I'm guessing they will be tough and alluring...can you talk about these two actresses and what they'll be asked to do?


Mr. Salmi:  We cast Emelie (pictured above) in summer of 2020 and Natasha in the fall of 2020. Both of their characters have an arc.  Maybe Emelie's is greater.  Natasha has the main part as Elora, which the story is about.  She is a young girl, early 20s, and is in the beginning of the story pretty much an ordinary girl with knowledge about the near vicinity of her village.  This changes when her little brother is taken.  But this story becomes larger than just the taking of her brother.  Natasha is a bubbly young woman with a lot of energy, and something I find interesting with her is her background in ballet and stage acting.

Emelie's character, Sigun is important for the story.  She brings people together and she suffers a lot when we first see her.  She has a great arc and maybe  she gets redemption in the end.  Emelie  is a genuine badass.  We had to shoot her scenes for the pilot in September because she needed to attend her film school in the UK.  We filmed in a 500 year-old wild wood and she had to do some running and jump over a fallen tree.  She tripped and wend down in a pile of rocks and branches.  When we checked if she was okay, she just stood up and brushed dirt off her and walked up to reset the scene.  She also got very wet and cold when we filmed at the marsh.  She never complained.  Emelie is experienced and her latest project  "The Redneg" (2021) received four awards at the Las Vegas Film Festival.  She was also  in the Swedish movie "Borg vs. McEnroe" (2017) with Shia Labouf (McEnroe), a small part but still...

CJZ: The effects have already begun, as has concept art.  You have very definite ideas about the plot of "Elora" and what you would like to get across.  When was "Elora" first born in your mind as an idea for an epic?

Mr. Salmi: I have had the seed of the idea in my head for several years, but it first got on paper in a synopsis in the fall of 2018.  I had an accident later and got an infection.  The had to take my right foot in March of 2019.  I also got an infection after surgery, so it took a lot longer than it was suppose to.  With the pandemic they shut down my rehab.  I had a lot of time at home to write.  The script has had plenty of rewrites, but as of September last year we feel content that this is the script we are going to shoot in the long run.  Later, producers Lotta Forsberg and Elin Gustafsson came aboard.  They are invested in this as I am.  They will also be portraying characters in the film.  They have both been seen in various productions in both Sweden film and TV.  Elin is also a stuntwoman. 

CJZ:  A fantasy film from the time of the Vikings! This is just too good to be true! Will we see violence, romance, and intrigue?  The fantasy tag also conjures up imagery of magic and myth...how about monsters and sorcery?

Mr. Salmi:  Probably most of those things.  Maybe not very much romance.  This movie will be gritty, bloody, violent and we want to depict the Viking age as close as we possibly can.  This story has fantasy elements.  A sorcerer and a witch you absolutely can tick a box off...maybe also a huge troll.  The presence of evil will be prominent.  

CJZ:  I've seen the costumes, props, and green screen preparation for "Elora." This film already looks genuine and big-budget.  Your production people seem to have gotten a big head start.  Is your production team, and you, students of Sweden's history and lore?

Mr. Salmi:  Big budget is a no, haha.  I am probably the props and costume department myself right now.  Everything you see is made by me for the most part.  Some stuff is bought.  Emelie's dress for example.  And some armor you will see later.  I have mostly paid for this stuff out of my own pocket.  We find a lot in flea markets we can "Viking-up," and some is sewn by me.  When our concept artist, Alexandra Walsh ( @walshtheartist ) came aboard, lots of things got easier.  We have something to go on.  We have people around us with knowledge of Viking history we can ask things through.  But we are all interested in Sweden's lore and history.


CJZ:  As the COVID restrictions begin to wane and vaccines are poised to hit the mass populations, are you optimistic for a 2022 release?

Mr. Salmi:  COVID has pushed us back several times for the pilot/trailer shoot.  We are aiming for early this spring, but we feel that we cannot count on the fact that we can shoot.  Hopefully though.  The feature was aimed for a 2023 release, but that has gotten looser and looser.  We are still early in pre-production most things are a question of money, which we do not have a pile of and no big production company behind us.  But this film will be made.  If anything, I'm bullheaded, haha.

CJZ:  The plot and scenery from "Elora" seems perfect for for board games or merchandising.  In your crowdfunding effort, will there be "Elora" merchandise available to potential donors?

Mr. Salmi:  I have thought a lot about that.  It sure could be fun with board games and such, but it is a great cost to produce.  Some merch will definitely see the light of day, but 'when' is the question.  We thought about having prints of Alexandra's artwork.  This is one of the things we discuss right now.  Also, a map print of the fantasy country our characters live in.  Tee shirts and hats may also come up in the longer run.

CJZ:  Will the filming be in Stockholm or 'on location'?  Will Swedish winters assist in the filming or are you waiting for the spring and summer months?

Mr. Salmi:  The pilot will probably be shot entirely in the Stockholm area, but the feature will be mostly filmed in my hometown about two hours north.  We have a wonderful nature here you don't really get in the big city and it is easier here.  The answer is 'on location.'  I am old school and want to do as much as I can in the camera.  We have a rebuilt Viking town/farm here.  It is built on the site of a Viking farm from the 10th century.  This place will portray Elora's home.

CJZ: As far as social media and crowdfunding, where can people learn more, and become part of the production of "Elora"?

Mr. Salmi: We have a website  https://www.elorathemovie.com/ , it is only in Swedish right now but we are working on translation.

The most important though is our GoFundMe page at Elora, Go Fund Me 

We are of course on Twitter too and try to update as much as we can ( @elorathemovie )

My email is elorathemovie@gmail.com for business purposes.

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