Who came up with the idea for The Quake?
Martin Sundland: The starting point for this film was an article I read in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. It covered the earthquake that struck Oslo in 1904 and the possibility for a new quake. The article was both fascinating and frightening. Frightening because I have lived my whole life in Oslo, fascinating because it gave us a starting point for a new disaster movie.

An important factor for the success of The Wave was without a doubt the fact that it was based on true facts: something that has happened in the past, and that can happen again. The fact that Oslo has a history with earthquakes was completely new to me. Co-writers Harald Rosenløw Eeg, John Kåre Raake and I had a few conversations with the geologist who had written the article, and slowly the idea for The Quake started to develop.

The Wave was directed by the experienced Roar Uthaug. What convinced you to bet on John Andreas Andersen who had hardly any experience as a director and especially for such a big scale and costly feature film?
MS: As you point out, John Andreas Andersen may not have a long track record as a director. He was co-director on a couple of projects, and he also directed two episodes of the thriller series Occupied. Through his work as a cinematographer he is perhaps Norway’s most experienced film worker. And it was exactly this experience that we put heavy emphasis on when we chose him as the director for The Quake. 

With The Wave you combined the spectacular with the emotional, which allowed you to give a new 'Scandi' twist to the disaster movie. Have you applied the same model for The Quake?
In many ways we have had the same mindset that we had when we made The Wave. Our VFX budget
is probably like the catering budgets in Hollywood. We have been conscious of this on both movies. We cannot compete when it comes to VFX quantity, but we can compete with everything else. In addition, this gives us time to focus more on the characters, on their relations and on “the small drama”, not just the spectacular scenes. You might say it is a virtue of necessity as we don’t have the money for full-on action from start to finish, but on the other hand we spend more time with the characters, and in a different way than in many American disaster movies.

What where the biggest challenges this time around and what pitfalls did you want to avoid?
Making movies is difficult regardless of genre. On movies like The Wave and The Quake we have the exact same challenges as on other movies, and in addition we have a bunch of stuff that other
films don’t have to deal with. In our opinion we pushed some limits with The Wave. The film was seen by an enormous amount of people in Norway and sold to the rest of the world. No wonder we had to think carefully before making a sequel to such a successful movie.

One thing was clear: we couldn’t give the audience less, we had to give them more! Personally, I believe that The Quake is a good indication of where Norwegian film production is in 2018. Naturally, opinions will vary when it comes to content and story, but regarding technical skills and film competence, I think we can say that The Quake is an example of how professional and highly-skilled Norwegian film workers have become.

The film is by far the most demanding project any of us have been involved in. This new competence gives us the possibility to tell stories we never thought feasible, and we will grasp that opportunity with both hands!

What is the release strategy outside of Norway?
TrustNordisk has once again done a tremendous job, and the film is already sold very well [more than 25 territories sold including Magnolia Pictures in the US]. 

Since 2006, you've established Fantefilm as one of Norway's most innovative production companies, specialised in genre movies and you've gone from making NOK16 million films like The Escape, to NOK60 million films like The Quake. What is your recipe for success?
MS: We have tried all along to stick to our formula, which is
to produce great movie experiences for a wide audience, genre feature films based on strong characters put in dramatic situations, with one or more factors that make them stand out in a Norwegian context. At the same time, we only make movies that we want to see ourselves. I believe it is extremely important that the producer, screenwriter and director share the same vision, and that all three of them can watch this movie at a cinema.

As movie makers we have to ask ourselves: is this a movie people want to see – at the cinema? At Fantefilm, this question is raised very early in the process.There is no easy recipe for success, but there are some tools that can make the journey a bit easier.

Last fall you hired two of Norway’s most prolific and experienced writers, Lars Gudmestad and Harald Rosenløw Eeg. Are you planning to expand into TV drama?

MS: Hiring Lars and Harald as full-time staff members at Fantefilm has been a great step forward for the company. I won’t go into details regarding what projects we are working on, but I can ensure you that Fantefilm will continue to focus on genre films. That said, we continuously want to break down barriers and put together new, interesting constellations of people. We have several exciting projects going on, and I am sure that some of them will be unexpected. That Fantefilm in due time will be a player within TV drama should come as no big surprise.