Bendik Heggen Strønstad
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Norwegian producer Bendik Heggen Strønstad has become a big name in Norwegian genre film production, often teaming up with Aleksander Nordaas
The name Bendik Heggen Strønstad is almost synonymous with “horror”. The 33-year-old Norwegian producer – a Producer on the Move at this year’s Cannes Film Festival – has 20 films to his credit, and most of them are genre titles.
”I like stories with a fantastic, mythical and supernatural touch. Norwegian folklore has a lot of cool stories and strange creatures, which have been told through generations, and I think the rest of the world should get to know them as well,” Strønstad explained.
Among his feature productions are Norwegian directors Pål Øie’s Villmark 2 [+see also:
film profile] (2015), the second instalment in the horror franchise, and Aleksander Nordaas’ award-winning horror mystery Thale (2012), which toured ten international film festivals and won two prizes.
The producer, who is a great admirer of US actor-writer-director-producer Quentin Tarantino – "his films are just something special" – was studying film at Norway’s Bergen Noroff University, when he met Norwegian writer-director Nordaas and they co-founded Yesbox Productions to work on Nordaas’ first feature, Circle.
“Otherwise I have never been 'sit down and study' guy, I am more into learning by doing. It started at collage, where I got involved in the sound department for a play. I have always liked to organise stuff and make things happen, so production with management and administration was the natural choice for me. First I was in a company with two guys and we worked on small productions, I was producer, they had the creative parts.”
Cineuropa: Can you tell us an early production experience?
Bendik Heggen Strønstad: When I was 21 I produced a feature for €200 (which was the bill for pizzas to the 30-man orchestra that played the musical score) when I was 21. It was Nordaas’ debut, and it went on to win a couple of prizes at the Bergen International Film Festival, and although I knew it, it sort of confirmed that this was what I wanted to do.
How do you get involved in new productions?
I have a great partner in Nordaas, who is very creative. We have the same tastes, and he comes up with a lot of cool projects for us to develop together. I also get inquiries from other writers, directors and producers, asking whether I would like to produce or co-produce for them. I am always looking for projects, which brings you into a universe you do not experience in every-day life. It doesn’t matter what genre it is.
Which production do you consider your greatest achievement?
Nordaas’ Thale in 2012. It was made on a very small budget, and we did almost everything in the production ourselves. In the end it was sold to more than 50 countries, and was screened at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and the Toronto International Film Festival.
What has been your biggest challenge during a production?
It is difficult to pick out one big challenge. Often the biggest challenges are just a big pile of smaller problems that you just have to solve one by one.
What are your most imminent new projects?
I have a lot of projects in development, most of them genre films. The most imminent are Nordaas’ Morkel The Moss Monster, an animated/VFX film coming from deep in the Norwegian woods aimed at children, and a family mystery with an alien touch that Simen Nyland will direct.
What do you hope to get out of being in Producers on the Move at Cannes?
A wider network that will help me get my films produced, and hopefully I will find some good producing partners from all over Europe among the other participants. One of the main reasons for joining is to get better acquainted with production possibilities outside Norway.