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Iceland Mag

Culture

Short film Rof was shot 170 metres below ground and took a whole year to complete

By Sara McMahon

  • Under ground. The lead actors, Hera Lind Birgisdóttir and Guðmundur Ingi Þorvaldsson. Photo/Vinnslan

The Icelandic shortfilm “Rof” will premiere in Tjarnarbíó cinema tomorrow evening. It was produced by the artist collective Vinnslan, shot 170 metres (558 ft) below ground and took a whole year to complete.

The Icelandic shortfilm “Rof” will premiere in Tjarnarbíó cinema tomorrow evening. It tells the story of a young girl who ventures through a volcano and back up to the earth’s surface with the guidance of a wise man. Twelve year old Hera Lind Birgisdóttir plays the role of the young girl, and Guðmundur Ingi Þorvaldsson that of the guide.

The short was produced by the artist collective Vinnslan, shot 170 metres (558 ft) below ground and took a whole year to complete. María Kjartansdóttir and Vala Ómarsdóttir co-directed the film and Biggi Hilmars composed the soundtrack to it.

Where did the idea for the film come from?
“The members of Vinnslan met in London – we had been living abroad for some years but coincidently all moved back home to Iceland around the same time and formed the creative collective known as Vinnslan shortly after.
“Moving back home after living abroad, reconnects you with your roots and nature. Guðmundur, the lead actor of the film, worked in Þríhnjúkagígur one summer. It’s considered to be one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and we quickly realized that’s where we wanted our next art project to take place,” María, the film’s director, explains.

The artist collective Vinnslan. 

How did filming go? One can’t imagine it being easy to film 170 metres below ground.
“It went surprisingly well. It’s extremely rocky down there so it was difficult to get the tripod to stand straight. Our cinematographer, Herbert Sveinbjörnsson, is well experienced so he wasn’t affected by the troublesome surface, the extreme cold or the damp.”

Did anything happen during filming that makes for an interesting story?
“The final day of shooting (the first scene in the film) took place in a lava channel over 50 metres deep (164 ft). It was a dangerous task crawling into the channel, but Guðmundur is a fantastic guide and prepared us well. There were four of us that slithered down into the tunnel: The cinematographer, the two actors and myself. We figured it would only take us a short time to film the scene but after an hour and a half the rest of the crew begun to worry about us. There was no radio connection in the tunnel so they couldn’t contact us. They began to whistle and shout down the tunnel, but to no avail. They had started to panic when we finally crawled back up. Apparently we had lost all sense of time and space and had spent over three hours down there.”

Filming under ground. 

What does it feel like to enter the massive crater?
“It’s magnificent and terrifying at the same time. Modern-day folk like us don’t often get the chance to enter into the core of the land – to rappel deep down into the earth where one can sense the beginning of time so clearly. You can’t help but feel humble. I guess the feeling is best described as being back in the womb.”

Who are the people behind Vinnslan?
Vinnslan is an acting group of sorts and we experiment with different art forms. The group consists of seven people with very different backgrounds,” says Harpa Fönn, the films production manager.

Are you excited for the premiere tomorrow?
“Very! This is the first time we have produced a short film, so we are all very excited.”

How will you celebrate this milestone?
“I guess we’ll all give each other a great big hug and cry with happiness,” Harpa Fönn concludes.

For more information visit Vinnslan’s Facebook page or website.

Þríhnjúkagígar from above. 

 

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