News  ·  10 | 08 | 2021

Interview with the Director

Hannes Þór Halldórsson – Leynilögga | Concorso internazionale

The first question is inevitable: football player and filmmaker. How do you reconcile the two professions? Are they somehow connected or are they two things that always remain separate?

These are two fun jobs but to be honest, these two worlds collide a lot and they can be difficult to combine. Filmmaking is an extremely time-consuming and demanding job, and football is very inflexible.

Training and games are unmovable, and that can cause big problems when trying to schedule something as complex as a film shoot around it. Plus, these are two full-time jobs so I need to use every moment I get to work on my filmmaking projects. When playing for the national team I usually always have my computer and hard drives with me and use the time in my hotel room to prepare, edit or work on something.

For example, last September I was casting and doing pre-production for Leynilögga in the national team hotel while preparing to play against England, and I edited the opening scene of the movie, the car chase sequence, on my laptop in my hotel room while preparing to face Romania in the Euro 2020 playoff games in October.

Where did the idea for Leynilögga come from?

It started 11 years ago when two of the lead actors, famous comedians in Iceland, decided to do a trailer competition for their Friday talk show. Me and Auðunn Blöndal, who plays the main character, made a trailer that went viral at the time and people loved it. After that, we got some phone calls and were asked to write the movie.

We spent the summer writing the outline of the story. We were planning to make it at the time but things didn't work out, I became a professional football player abroad for 6 years and the project was put on hold. We thought it would never happen, but after I moved back to Iceland, we started talking about bringing it to life even though the idea was 10 years old, and we teamed up with Pegasus and decided to give it a go. We then rewrote the script and went for it. But the whole thing started as a spoof trailer for an imaginary movie.

Your film has all the explosiveness of a genre film but is also able to be ironic very often. Why did you make this choice?

In essence, this is a comedy made by people who wanted to make an action movie. The thing is, there has never been an Icelandic action movie, with gunfights, car chases, and supervillains. And there is a reason for that. In Iceland, the police don't use guns, we are not a violent country in general, and the typical action scenes we are used to seeing taking place in New York or London don't make any sense in Reykjavik, so it's not possible to make a serious action movie in Iceland.

Making it a comedy, however, is a completely different story. Then we could allow ourselves to do everything we wanted, and the bigger, the better. Nothing is over the top because we can hide behind the fact that we are making a comedy.  But we really wanted it to look and feel like a proper action movie.

In the great history of genre cinema, are there any directors that you have taken as models?

The list is long but I'd like to mention three directors. I think Edgar Wright is unbelievably talented at combining action, comedy, and clever, visual filmmaking.

Christopher Nolan is very good at creating momentum and rhythm in his films, creating epicness, weight, and tension, unlike anyone. Then James Cameron manages to raise the bar every time he makes a movie.

The film is compacted by a careful choice of actors and locations in Reykjavik. How did you work from this point of view?

We wanted Reykjavik to have the feel of a grand scale action-movie city which is a challenge when dealing with a small city of 100,000 people with very few tall buildings. In addition, we couldn't afford to shoot exterior sequences in darkness so we had to be creative. We tried to show the city in a new light, find locations that made it look more epic than it actually is and we had to make it work in daylight. We drove around the city for days looking for isolated parking lots, old buildings, harbors, and factories that could help us create our action movie look.

Many of the actors were already attached to the movie since back in the day, when we made the trailer. But with extensive casting work, we assembled a great cast, which in my opinion manages to balance the humor with straight-faced seriousness to make this movie work.

Interview by Lorenzo Buccella