As of this time, this is on Prime, and since I was on a bit of a Vikings/Norse/Scandinavian kick, I gave it a go. I'm so glad that I did.
I don't often find making-of-(movie-x) docs, because unless everything went insane, there's really not that much to see (or that you can't get in a director's commentary). This film shoot more than lived up to the 'insane' part. Every possible thing that could go wrong did go wrong. Literally, every. thing. In one scene, when they're almost, *almost*, done, a crew member says sarcastically "Well, at least we haven't had an earthquake or volcanic eruption." I thought to myself, oh god don't jinx yourself, but didn't _really_ believe it would. In the next scene (I can't recall, but it was a few days to a week later) the friggin volcano erupts. I sat there in compete disbelief. You couldn't write a script like this, everyone would scream about suspension of belief.
The director, Stula, is almost child-like in his optimism. At the end, the person filming this asks him if he thought the shoot went well. Sturla replies "Oh yes! We had a car accident and no one got hurt (and some other examples like fire, hurricane, etc)." He's completely serious. He says something like "What fun would it be if you filmed in a studio and everything went exactly as planned?" I can only imagine the reaction of every other single person involved when they saw/heard that. He's very lucky that the last disaster wasn't "director found dead; appears to have been pushed off the cliff by angry mob." That actually wouldn't have surprised me at all.
I guess the last bit of irony is that while the movie itself cost somewhere north of $16 million, the gross was under $100k. It sits at 5.1 on IMDB with 90% of the praise being "at least the scenery was incredible." Meanwhile this doc is at 7.9 and noted as having won 4 film festival awards.
Ok, a list of some of the various disasters:
*First they way under estimated the cost of everything in Iceland. Having been there, it's insane (understandably; it's an island so the majority of goods are imported.
*The pre-production money was a month late. By which time the exchange rate of the kroner had increased 20%
*Because of the delay, they were shooting in the fall, not summer. Iceland is one of those countries which has a very dramatic seasonal shift, the least of which being they had 6 minutes less light daily
*They built a Viking long ship that turned out to be too wide to get across the bridge to the lagoon. When they *did* get across (with, according to some, about an inch to spare on either side) it leaked. To keep it afloat the crew rigged pumps, but those had to be hidden for filming. The cast was in a (quickly) sinking ship, with no life vests (they were sitting out of camera) in water so cold you can only survive in it about 5 minutes. While wearing full chain mail.
*Much of the filming was outside, on cliffs. That year Iceland had the worst windstorms in 60 years. It was hurricane force, to the point of upturn cars and blowing the roof off a nearby hotel. On the one night they were shooting 'with fog', there was absolutely no wind and they had to use fans with the smoke machine.
*They wanted to shoot a scene in the mead hall, because it was so windy it was blowing the beards off the actor's faces. The roads were icy so only the transport (I'm assuming heavier) vehicles could get up there. The first driver to try slid/was blown off the road and almost went off a cliff (not that it means more, but with 5 other people onboard)
*The second time they tried to film a scene I the hall due to weather, it caught on fire. It didn't completely burn down, but was seriously damaged (in addition to all the wind damage)
*Did I mention a freakin volcano erupted?!
There are actually MORE things I'm forgetting. It's mind-boggling that 1) no one died .. 2) most cast and crew didn't leave .. 3) that it exists at all. Blood sweat and tears doesn't come close. Bravo to all.
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