“Einar” coming to a theatre near you
TriFilm’s short film project aims to take a more realistic look at the Vikings
It is not often that you hear about a film project based on an 11th century Norwegian nobleman and politician coming out of New Jersey. The sheer oddity of it all begged for further investigation. The movie’s title is Einar, and is based on the character Einar Eindridesson Thambarskelfir. He is mentioned several times in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla saga.
I checked out the movie’s promo clip. It begins in a contemporary context and then draws back to past connections. The film’s cheerleader, Kalen Eriksson, Executive Producer and Founder of TriFilm Pictures, LLC, and Director Tyler Mahoney, were both willing to talk to me about Einar.
Victoria Hofmo: Kalen, what drew you to this project?
Kalen Eriksson: What initially drew me to this project was my own heritage. I am both Swedish and Norwegian, and my family has been heavily involved in Scandinavian culture throughout my upbringing. When the director, Tyler, brought this script to me I was immediately taken in. It also is not the type of story you really see people trying to make, and despite the demanding production value that would be involved I felt this would be a really exciting story to explore.
VH: How long have you been involved in producing films?
KE: I have been producing films since I was about 10 years old. A fun project involving myself, a Sony Handicam, some friends, and all my cousins turned into a five-year endeavor of three separate feature films (I myself find them now unwatchable, but back then we thought they were the coolest). Since then though, the passion for not only making something creatively but also overseeing this whole involved process has only grown. It was never really a question in my mind whether or not this was just a pastime—I felt early on it was my calling.
VH: Can you explain the process of getting this film into the public realm?
KE: Normally, when a new short film is being made, social media is spammed, only your direct contacts know about it, end up hating it since they see it every day, and the film never goes anywhere.
I have seen this countless times, and so with a story like Einar I knew we had to go in a different direction. The first step being to appeal to and earn the backing of different cultural groups and related businesses throughout the area. While I myself am an avid fan of the History Channel show, Vikings, many die-hard enthusiasts of the subject and actual Scandinavians find it to be a misrepresentation or extremely dumbed-down representation of the Viking culture. That is the niche we have aimed to appeal to, to distance ourselves from the mix of pop-culture Vikings.
VH: Where are you in that process?
KE: We have had tremendous success so far in appealing to our desired demographic. Despite our limited budget, we have been given great compliments on the originality and cultural accuracy of what we portrayed in the opening sequence, which we have been showing. Just recently we were featured at the 2015 Scandinavian Fest in Budd Lake, N.J., and there we discovered a hugely supportive fanbase.
VH: When will the film be completed?
KE: The bulk of shooting for Einar will take place in late November/early December of this year. After the whole post-production process, we expect the film to be completed by February, and ready for festival distribution by March 2016.
VH: What was unique about working on this film?
KE: Because of our goal to make this film as culturally and historically authentic as possible, we have interacted largely with local artisans, craftsmen, and historical reenactment groups to acquire the resources we need for shooting—groups that I have never before worked with. I feel that for a short, low-budget film to portray a world that not only actually existed but one that is beloved by so many people is by itself something that makes this such a unique project. While the level of accuracy we are striving for does present its challenges, it has only made the production process more exciting.
VH: Tyler, can you briefly describe your youth and studies?
Tyler Mahoney: My youth is nothing special, just long hours of drawing, comic books, and videogames. I don’t regret those times, though, because it made me very self-conscious, empathic, and introspective today as an adult. I felt free when I could pursue studies into literature and film and was thankful that I could examine our pop-culture’s values and virtues with a more critical mind. Devoting my college career to film was out of necessity since there was no higher calling to me than expressing the human condition through an art form.
VH: How and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?
TM: I was nearing the end of high school when I realized that our entertainment was becoming more interactive as video gaming became more ubiquitous. I wanted to be there as the art of storytelling began to change and evolve. I think the way we experience stories will change drastically in the next couple decades towards immersion of an experience and an inclusion of the individual.
VH: How did you get involved with your current project?
TM: I wrote the script for Einar years before we decided to produce it, as a sort of pipe dream. It was a challenging and original project apart from the rest of the work my peers were interested in, and the areas that the story explored, emotionally, were far more rewarding to me.
VH: What drew you to Medieval Scandinavia?
TM: I’ve long held a fascination with martial history and the life and demands of what it meant to be a warrior or a soldier, from a philosophical standpoint. The Old Norse worshipped their gods through battle. They were determined to die gloriously. I asked myself, “What happened to the brave warriors who somehow missed out on their glorious death?” Would it shake their faith? How would they prepare themselves for death? I sympathized with that human being, and I wanted to meet him. I wrote Einar to find that character.
VH: What has been the most unusual discovery you made on this project so far?
TM: My main research into the death rituals for old Norse warriors revealed a degree of sadness and desperation in their final days. In beseeching Odin to find them worthy, some Vikings would take spears and carve Odin runes into their flesh. They would sleep every night holding their sword in case they didn’t wake up the following morning.
VH: Where have you been filming?
TM: All of our filming thus far has been in Warwick, New York. We’re still location scouting by the Saranac Lakes for subsequent shoots.
VH: How has it been going?
TM: It’s been an interesting balancing act taking what little I have to invest wholeheartedly in to this project. Einar is a deeply personal story for me and it’s overwhelming to see people flocking to it, wanting to make it real. More and more I have days that tell me this can be done, and that keeps me hopeful.
Bringing a film to fruition is fraught with peril and more often than not fails. However, in the case of small independent features, individuals like you and me can actually be effective supporters by contributing a small donation. Something to think about in the case of Einar. For further information about the film see www.trifilmpictures.com.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 16, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.