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Davið Óskar Ólafsson

Producer on the Move 2010 - Iceland


Davið Óskar Ólafsson is the son of the renowned Icelandic editor-filmmaker Valdís Óskarsdóttir. After graduating from the European Film College in Ebeltoft (Denmark) he was hired by Zik Zak Filmworks to look after their short film department. He then set up his own company, Mystery Island, with fellow graduates Árni Filippusson and Hreinn Beck, where he produced Óskarsdóttir’s first two features, Country Wedding [+see also:
film profile
and King's Road [+see also:
interview: Valdís Oskarsdottir
film profile

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Cineuropa: You grew up in a film environment. Why did you choose to become a producer?
Davið Óskar Ólafsson: The production side of the film industry is something that has always fascinated me. I guess it might have something to do with me not being the great tech wiz. I feel at home planning and budgeting and having an overview of things. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t always sit at my desk crunching numbers. Since our company is small and we are young, we often take on set jobs as well. For instance, we were ADs on our first and second feature films. We try to do our part when we are shooting and it boosts morale with the crew to see the producers do hard work as well and not just hide behind piles of paper on a desk. Not that it is not hard at times…believe me!

So far you’ve produced your mother’s first two features as a filmmaker. Was it hard for you to impose your vision as a producer?
My mother Valdís Óskarsdóttir and I have a very good relationship. I listen to her and she listens to me. It has been like that since I started visiting her in the editing room when I was very young. She would ask my opinion on scenes that she was editing and I would tell her what my thoughts were. We have kept this work method going since and that makes both our voices heard at all times when we are working together.

You seem to have a very close relationship with the established theatre group Vesterport, whose work is based on improvisation. What are the advantages of working with them?
The advantages are that they are more than ready to do things a bit differently and willing to take chances. And when you are working with the group that has worked so long together, the chemistry between them is quite unique. Our first feature, Country Wedding, was an improvised film. We thought of them straight away and it turned out great. Then when we were looking for actors for King’s Road, our thoughts went back to them. Working with them is always a pleasure and we will definitely work with them again in the future.

Iceland is on the verse of bankruptcy and public funds for film have been cut. How do you work under those circumstances?
At the moment it is very difficult to finance our films because of the cutbacks. We need to have secure financing from Iceland to be able to apply for more funds in Europe and Scandinavia. At the moment we at Mystery Island are looking into other means of financing and are hoping to build up a good network at Cannes this year.

Tell us about your various projects…
We have several projects in development. Days Off (working title), for instance, is the feature debut of Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson, the award-winning director of the short film Rattlesnakes. The original script tells of J, who is forced to go on vacation by his employer. His life changes from familiar routine to the unexpected and uncontrollable. Víkingur Kristjansson is in the cast.

What does it mean to be Producer on the Move?
It is a great honour. The platform is a great opportunity to introduce me and my company to upcoming European producers and hopefully start a dialogue on co-productions on some of our projects.

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