Productive in Iceland

Just returned from a productive trip back to Iceland, had a good meeting with The Icelandic Film Center. Met up with my other production half and talked the next steps of Red Flag’s seemingly endless pre pre pre production. We’re moving closer to a start, we’ll get there someday.

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A Road Movie Deserves A Road Trip

Planned route to Ningxia
Me and the DP, Associate Producer and Music Composer are leaving tomorrow morning to Ningxia. There we will meet with our Chinese Co-Producers and local authorities to take a look at locations, hammer out a deal and look at the local “Movie Studio”. That’s our planned route, we will be stopping at Ordos (a city built a few years ago) and it’s apparently a ghost city, some major design project that didn’t quite work out. Everything is set, all we need now is a CAR!

Ningxia Location Scouting and setting up mutual benefits

I’ll be heading to Ningxia province in western China, by the Gobi Desert. Leaving on Friday for a 3 day location scout of the province, for my upcoming movie Red Flag. I’ll be wined and dined and whisked around by the local government who seem eager to get movies and co-productions to this second lowest GPD province of China. A film company with ties to Ningxia province are lining up to become our Chinese co-producers and this is the first step in a hopefully mutual beneficial relationship between Icelandic film and Chinese film. Some of the sites I’ll be taking a look at are Helan Mountain, The Pyramids of China, The Yellow River and various lakes, villages and other scenery.

Red Flag: Application

Icelandic Film Fund application is ready and will be handed in today, me and my producer have been preparing the documents for the past couple of weeks. It’s a roughly 160 page document including: script, budget, CV’s, letter of intents, marketing plan, financial plan, synopsis, treatment, pitch, agreement’s, cast & crew list, time-line and more. Now let’s keep our fingers crossed for good news in about 6-8 weeks time. Our aim is to go into production in October/November 2011. The English title of the film is RED FLAG, Icelandic name is Utlendingurinn (The Foreigner).

Red Producers

About time I introduced other players, as they say “Making movies is a collaboration”. So apart from me the director being on board, we’ve got various producers and writers so far. I won’t go into the writing credits yet as it’s a bit complicated and soap opera like right now, let’s just say there’s been 5 writers involved so far and I’m not agreeing on everybody’s level of credit to their level of input, I might once we’re further away from the script and closer to the shooting. So, this time I’ll introduce the producers. First off is our head producer in Iceland, Hlin Johannesdottir, she’s produced over 10 films, various co-productions with other countries included. She just came onboard a few weeks ago and is doing a great job so far. Our associate producers here in China are two, Clarence Hui from Hong Kong, who is mostly known as a music producer but has been involved with the HK film industry for more than 20 years, he also helped me with my second film A Man Like Me which was partly shot in Hong Kong. Clarence also wrote the classic Canto-Pop musical  Gam Chi Yuk Sip which I suspect is loosely based on his own life. Lily Lee is our mainland associate producer, I know little of her background except that by the looks of it she’s got a lot of “Guanxi” as they say here in China. Finally there’s executive producer Jim Stark, who’s been helpful in many way’s since we started and has been closely following the project, he produced Mystery Train and Down by Law. I’ll be introducing the writers and actors very soon, followed by key crew.

Music Soundtrack Red Flag

Music is sometimes important in movies. It’s certainly important in Goodfellas and The Spaghetti Westerns, not so important in The China Syndrome or The Birds. I prefer to get a composer involved from the start, and ultimately would like to  just give him the script and he composes the whole soundtrack without ever seeing the movie itself, as they did in Brokeback Mountain and Inception. That means that the aim is for the soundtrack to live on it’s own and not follow the feel or arch of individual scenes, therefore I could drop any of the music anywhere I want into my film. So far I’ve not worked with a composer this way, all three of my movies have been scored by composers having a rough edit close to the final stages of the film although the last soundtrack of a movie I made was a collaboration between a heavy metal band (Minus) and the composer, which did yield interesting results. This time I’m very much thinking of going the other way and have a composer involved from the start and preferably only composing with the script of Red Flag in mind. Therefore I’ve started to research music and references myself, because I’ve yet to decide on a composer. I’ve used two of the best Iceland has to offer in my previous films but there’s young composers both in Iceland and here in China doing good stuff also, I might go for the younger generation this time, not because they’ll write up some youngish sounding techno babble but just purely because you can get them to do a lot of stuff much cheaper 🙂 I am thinking of perhaps basing the whole soundtrack on traditional classic music, old Chinese classics that slowly turn into old Icelandic classics towards the end of the movie. So, been listening to a lot of light hearted romantic Chinese tunes with images of princesses and swans floating around and on the other hand heavy dark and bleak Icelandic music from similar periods, usually the image is starvation, volcanoes and bad weather. There’s certainly a contrast in style between the two nations.

Red Flag Sponsors

We’re getting ready to fill up our in-movie sponsors list, thing’s like beer, whiskey, rice wine, cigarettes, mobile phones, cars and any old junk that appears within the movie. We’ve already secured our main car sponsor, but if you are or know somebody who’s got a product to flog then contact us for more information on how our main hero might use your product, whether it’s an imported wine or anything else … it might become cinematic legend in RED FLAG 😉