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Rasmus A. Sivertsen • Director

Solan and Ludvig: Christmas in Pinchcliffe: A modern Christmas tale with a hint of the past


- Norwegian director Rasmus A. Sivertsen has been emerged in animation since he was very young. His latest film, Solan and Ludvig: Christmas in Pinchcliffe, has just arrived on Norwegian screens

Rasmus A. Sivertsen • Director

Just like Obélix who fell into the magic potion when he was only a boy, Norwegian director Rasmus A. Sivertsen has been emerged in animation since he was very young, surrounded by cameras, crayons, and various other equipment, and encouraged by his father who was an illustrator and animation specialist. Cineuropa met the director in the presence of the two main protagonists of his latest film, Solan and Ludvig: Christmas in Pinchcliffe [+see also:
interview: Rasmus A. Sivertsen
film profile
: Solan, the outspoken magpie and Ludvig the fearful hedgehog, who both made their screen debut in 1975 in Flåklypa Grand Prix, an animated film directed by Ivo Caprino.

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Cineuropa: Where is Réodor, the great inventor?
: He doesn’t like journalists.
Rasmus Sivertsen: He prefers to stay in his workshop, perfecting his inventions, like the great snow canon and sledge-rocket that can be seen in the film I directed in stop-motion (volume animation). To film image by image, we used a Canon 7D camera with a Nikon lens, the usual equipment when you want to create movement from immobile objects.
Solan: Us, immobile?
Rasmus Sivertsen: You are nothing but latex figurines, only 25 centimetres high, manually animated by true specialists, since the team of Tim Burton took part in the making of the film.
Solan: True manipulators... what about us, don’t we create anything?
Rasmus Sivertsen: Your creator, the real one, was Norwegian author-illustrator Kjell Aukrust, whom I had the chance to meet about 15 years ago.

Cineuropa: You don’t use digital imagery?
Rasmus Sivertsen
: I prefer artisanal animation, the impression of reality is greater. Characters seem more alive, more tactile nearly. The only scene for which we had to use digital equipment was the breathtaking sledge ride.

Cineuropa: What does this film represent for you?
Rasmus Sivertsen
: This film is 11 months in a studio, 1100 scenes, 124,000 images, 5 teams working simultaneously, 20 people constantly on call, for an average of 20 seconds of film produced a day. It represents years of work with a budget of about 3 million euros. Four years ago, Cornelia Boysen, a producer for Maipo Film contacted me to direct the film, and so did the coproducer of the company Qvisten Animation that I manage with Ove Heiborg. It took me a year to create a captivating story with my co-screenwriter Karsten Fullu. Then another year to make a first draft, with drawings, in order to perfect the film’s coherence as a whole, the balance of the sequences. Finally, another year to do the actual animation, and choose the music and lighting, which are so important in creating a Christmas atmosphere. Knut Avenstroup Haugen composed the music.

Cineuropa: Did you face any difficulties?
Rasmus Sivertsen
: The most difficult bit was to practically handle the different sets at the same time. It takes a lot of concentrating. Another difficulty was creating the set. We worked with design specialists and most of the sets were built in Poland before being transported to the filming studio in Oslo.

Cineuropa: What does your job as a director usually consist of?
Rasmus Sivertsen:
First I work with the actors who lend their voices to the characters, before recording the dialogue in the studio. Then the animation specialists come into play: they are very attentive to the dialogue and, as a director, I have to ask them for more or less intensity or moderation in the characters’ gestures. Throughout the process, I have to be extremely precise and concrete, working in close collaboration with everyone, in order to, amongst other things, be able to deal with unexpected events such as Ludvig’s broken leg.
Ludvig: Thankfully it was repaired!
Rasmus Sivertsen: I have to say I was really impressed with the team’s patience and endurance; they were constantly confronted with stress, and tight deadlines. They should be proud of the result.  

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(Translated from French)

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