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Rasmus A Sivertsen • Director

"Nowadays we sometimes forget that it’s the visuals that count in animation"


- Cineuropa caught up with Norwegian filmmaker Rasmus A Sivertsen, the director of animated feature Solan and Ludvig: The Big Cheese Race

Rasmus A Sivertsen  • Director

Solan and Ludvig: The Big Cheese Race [+see also:
interview: Rasmus A Sivertsen
film profile
, the animated feature of Norwegian director Rasmus A Sivertsen, co-produced by Maipo Productions and production company Qvisten Animation, will hit Norwegian theatres on Christmas day. Qvisten, which celebrated its 20th birthday last year, was honoured about a month ago at the Fredrikstad Animation Festival, the biggest in Norway, with screenings, a conference and a retrospective of short films. The previous film in the series,Solan and Ludvig: Christmas in Pinchcliffe [+see also:
interview: Rasmus A. Sivertsen
film profile
, was a huge success, first in Norway where close to 900,000 people saw it, and also in France where the film registered more than 150,000 admissions.

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Cineuropa: Solan, Ludvig, Reodor... they’re rather endearing characters, created by Kjell Aukrust some fifty years ago.
Rasmus A Sivertsen: Yes, all three live in Flåklypa, and this time an ancestral sporting tradition pits them against the village of Alidre, home to a trio of ‘‘baddies’’ also borrowed from Aukrust’s comical world: comedian Olram Slåpen, Ollvar Kleppvold, who runs a dairy, and his loyal assistant Emanuel Desperados, a gorilla charged with mixing the cheeses with his feet, allowing Ollvar to boast that they have not been touched by human hands. The first one to get to the goal with a cheese wins the competition.

It took you three years to make this film.
Yes, post-production included, which meant we had very strict deadlines to work to at every stage. This time round, as we were shooting, we didn’t test the film on an audience. Instead, once Karsten Fullu had written the screenplay and dialogue, we made storyboard videos with voices, music, sound effects as opposed to just storyboard stills. For a start this allows the technical team to pin down the framing, scenery, camera movement and better plan the shots. The other advantage is that the producer, screenwriter and director can use the videos to get the consistency, rhythm and balance right, and to spot where any changes might need to be made before giving the go ahead for filming.

Did you use the same figurines?
Not entirely. We had to freshen them up a bit, as they looked a bit worn after months of loyal service. We kept the frames, and with some new stuffing and finishing touches they were ready for a new adventure. Like last time, we used stop motion animation. Some sequences were a bit tricky to shoot, as we wanted them to be perfect. For example, for the scene in which Solan does the hammer throw, we spent hours watching professional athletes on the Internet to work out exactly where their centre of gravity lies, where they bend and how they stand. Without forgetting, of course, in the same scene, the reactions of the characters in the background.

Your father, Thor Sivertsen, who also worked in animation, got you started in this art.
Yes, he introduced me to cartoons from the 1930s, Disney pieces full of fun and imagination, real little gems lasting around seven minutes apiece that were played at the cinema, at first with the news, before the main feature. My all-time favourite is Mickey’s Trailer, a classic of its kind. It’s animation in its purest form, in its essence. It’s not so much the story that counts, or the characters, but the movement and gestures of the characters. Nowadays we sometimes forget that it’s the visuals that count in a cartoon. We tend to place rather too much emphasis on the dialogue.

The film was made using the same team of people.
It was by chance that we were all available to work together again. Enriched by this new experience, the team came out of it even stronger, and a new animation is already in the works, with new characters borrowed this time from the world of Thorbjørn Egner, a Norwegian writer-illustrator who is very popular in Scandinavia. Then I want to revisit Flåklypa for a third instalment.

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(Translated from French)

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