Exclusive-2017 will be a blockbuster year for Norway's Motion Blur, with major films by Espen Sandberg and Harald Zwart -both returning from Hollywood- and the filming of the company’s first TV drama. 

Jointly owned and founded by producer Espen Horn, directors Harald Zwart (Karate Kid), Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning (Kon-Tiki, Pirates of the Caribbean 5) and Veslemøy Ruud Zwart, the leading commercials company has upped its drama production stake since its 49% equity sale to SF Studios in 2013. Three ambitious projects with combined budgets of about NOK 162.5m (€18m) are now in production and pre-production: Zwart’s feature drama The 12th Man and TV project The Oil Fund, as well as Sandberg’s Roald Amundsen untitled biopic. 

“Those three projects fit perfectly into Motion Blur’s remit which is to produce high profile commercial genre films and TV dramas for the Scandinavian and European markets,” told Espen Horn to nordicfilmandtvnews.com. 

The Oil Fund is a 10x25’ comedy drama produced by Zwart Arbeid with Motion Blur for SBS Discovery Norway/TVNorge. The series with a NOK 23.5m budget is created by Tom Gulbrandsen and Harald Zwart. It portrays the ‘unsung’ heroes of Norway’s Oil Fund. They start their day in simple apartments, ride their bike to work and then take private jets out into the big world and buy shares of everything from Times Square to Harley Davidson. They deal with the richest Arabs and Asians, buy and sell billions in stocks, drink the finest wines, before retreating to their cabbage dinners at home.

“The humour comes from the contrast between our social-democratic values that led to the creation of the Oil Fund for future generations and the business-minded guys who run it and try to double and triple its value,” says Horn. 

Casting of three main roles is underway and shooting will start next summer. The premiere on TV Norge is set for winter 2018.

National Heroes
Before turning to The Oil Fund, Zwart will wrap the filming of the feature drama The 12th Man. The WW2 drama featuring real-life national resistance hero Jan Baalsrud is based on a script by Petter Skavlan (Kon-Tiki). Thomas Gullestad plays the young resistance fighter who is stuck on a snow-covered island surrounded by ice water with German soldiers chasing him. All he has to survive is his physical and mental strength – and an unbreakable chain of fearless Norwegians, willing to risk their lives for a fellow human being and freedom fighter.

“This is a very person film for Harald [Zwart], says Horn. “He wants to impact how the great generation related to war taking inspiration from his own parents and grandparents’ experiences, choices and trauma from WW2. He wishes to portray their solidarity, courage and endurance – how you sometimes have to put your own interests aside to help others. It’s also very different from Harald’s previous films, a true intense character-driven drama.”

Filming started mid-April and delivery is set for November 2017. The NOK 64m film is produced by Nordisk Film Production Norway, with Zwart Arbeid and Motion Blur, support among others from the Norwegian Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond and Eurimages. Nordisk Film handles Scandinavian distribution and TrustNordisk world sales.

As for The Roald Amundsen project, Espen Sandberg’s biopic about the legendary explorer is currently in pre-production. The project based on a script by Ravn Lanesskog (The Last King) will focus on Amundsen’s life as much as his achievements. “With Espen, Ravn and producer Kristian Sinkerud, we wanted to explain the driving force behind Roald Amundsen. His impressive explorations are all well documented, but his personal life is largely untold. Privately he was an equally fascinating person. He lied and betrayed his closest to achieve his professional goals, but the price he paid personally was high. This is also the story about Roald's brother, Leon, who faithfully helped his brother for more than 20 years,“ says Horn. Casting is underway for the main roles of Roald and Leon Amundsen and the other polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. 

The NOK 75m project is produced by Motion Blur and SF Studios with support from the Norwegian Film Institute. Horn is looking for co-producers and south pole look alike location. Filming is set to start in the autumn 2017 with a premiere lined up for the autumn 2018. SF Studios handles Scandinavian distribution and SF Studios International world sales.