We spoke to Zombielars producer Anne Bergseng (Tordenfilm) and Thomas Seeberg Torjussen, co-creator with Gisle Halvorsen.

What was your inspiration for the series?
Thomas Seeberg Torjussen:
I have three kids including two Boys (9-11). I wanted to write something for them. I realised that what they watch on TV is not great. I felt they should get more humour, love story and fantasy, so I combined all this together, they read it and I pitched it to NRK. I really wanted to get kids’ attention with an accessible story, funny and entertaining.

What is it about?
It’s about Lars who’s a zombie, or politically correctly a ‘living unliving’. He comes to this conformist and prejudiced society where different is frowned upon. Lars is not popular with the school principal but a magnet to people, because although he wears the same clothes as normal kids, but has special powers. He soon realises that other kids are different too: there are witches, trolls, ninjas, all types of characters from pop culture and folklore. 

All are struggling with their images and what we expect them to do: The witch cannot fly with a broom but can be nasty, the ninjas can’t fight but can become invisible, the trolls don’t have a tail but according to Norse mythology, they can’t count to 12. At the beginning, the creatures are ashamed of who they are, but they learn the benefit of their powers.

It’s not futuristic but a metaphor to where Europe is heading, as we’re losing our interest in multi-culturalism and diversity.

Isn’t there an important love story in the series as well…
TST: The ninja and the zombie (aged 11 and 12) fall in love, but it’s complicated for them. The ninja is afraid and goes invisible when she is too shy. As for the Zombie, when he is rejected, he dies, but they are clearly in love!

From the teaser that I saw, there is lots of humour not only in the action but in the dialogue as well…
There is no reason not to be funny if you can, so we’ve tried to be funny and absurd. It is a funny series but not a comedy.

How did you deal with special effects to make the series visually interesting and surprising for the young sophisticated audience, without a Hollywood budget?
We’ve been lucky because we found VFX artist Ludvig Friberg (Segment & Betong) who knows how to play and create illusions. He said that in Hollywood, some special effects are mind-blowing because their creators want their work to be visible on screen. But you can create illusions with other tricks. When we fade out on the ninja and make her disappear, there is no afterglow and it’s a cheap effect to do, but the kids are still surprised and it works!

How did buyers respond to the first episodes in Cannes and at Scandinavian Screening?
Anne Bergseng:
Professionals have seen only two episodes so far and are eager to see more according to the sales agent Global Screen, so we’re looking forward to finishing everything and show it to buyers.

It’s quite exceptional that NRK has commissioned three seasons before airing season 1…
AB: Yes. We’re very happy about that. They commissioned two other seasons based on rough cuts of episodes from season 1.

What will season two focus on?
TST: We’re writing it right now. The main four characters will remain and evolve. Our heroes have more allies but the antagonists are also stronger, just like what’s happening in Europe, with extreme right movement taking keys to the town hall and getting seats in Parliament. So the fights between the creatures and their opponents are tougher.

How was the series promoted to attract the young audience?
NRK Super has handled the publicity and promotion. They have learnt a lot from Skam, with youngsters who discovered the show by themselves, via social media. We also want the kids to get the feeling that they are discovering the show by themselves. So we are doing soft selling on Facebook and Instagram. We feel the quality will speak for itself and kids will be hooked and share info on social media.

How is the series shown on NRK?
AB: More children watch NRK Super online than on traditional TV. The series will be available both online on NRK Super and on NRK TV. It premiered last Saturday with two episodes then there will be one episode each week throughout the summer.

TST: We’re hoping for a rainy summer!