Picking Brains with Wednesday Lee Friday: Casper Haugegaard

This week’s ZZN reprint is from Danish director Casper Haugegaard.  I loved this little film.  

Casper Haugegaard is the director of the newly released film, Opstandelsen (AKA The Ressurection) I found this to be an awesome little Danish chompfest, and I enjoyed it very much.
ZZN was fortunate to interview the film’s lead actress, Marie Frohme-Vanglund last winter. She shed plenty of insight on the film, and on her character, Esther. As if that isn’t awesome enough, now Casper Haugegaard relates some production stories, and we learn that it can be tricky scrubbing blood off a church floor.

But that’s no surprise to ZZN readers, eh?

WLF/ZZN: Who are your favorites, and/or least favorite purveyors of zombie pop culture?
I could name a few. There wasn’t really any particular zombie films that inspired me to do Opstandelsen. I love horror and gore, and that’s what I initially wanted to do with this film. Zombies just seemed to fit the story that I wanted to tell, perfectly.

WLF/ZZN: Please tell us about something unexpected that happened during filming.
A lot of unexpected stuff happened, and a lot had to do with our extensive use of film-blood, plus the fact that we film shot the film in a real church. The first couple of weeks of shooting were supposed to be in the church. But after doing a very chaotic and gory scene inside the church we accidently left a small stain on the floor, which got us banned from shooting there ever again. We still had at least a week worth of shooting to do there. That really made things difficult for us as we now needed to change a lot of things. We had to go on shooting the underground scenes without knowing if we would be able to finish up the project, which was pretty stressful. When all underground scenes were shot, we still hadn’t done the ending in the church.
Then all of a sudden after begging the church for ages we were allowed to come back and use the church for two nights to finish it up. But this was like a third of the time we needed to do the scripted ending, so we had to think fast and alter things to fit our timeframe. So the ending might seem a little off to some people, but I really love how it turned out!

WLF/ZZN: What scene turned out the best in your opinion?
The ending for one. But I’m also quite fond of the sermon in the beginning of the film. It really gets you in horror mode before the film unleashes the zombies and gore. And Hans Maaløe is one evil g*ddamn preacherman. But also some of the more violent and gory scenes works really well I think. The gory gags are so fun to do and it’s amazing to watch something done in the simplest and cheapest way, turn out great.

WLF/ZZN: The film has a wonderfully unique setting, the underground scenes in particular. Is there a story behind your choosing, and gaining permission, to shoot there?
When I started scouting locations for the film I just began to check out every cellar around me. And I found some pretty rough and dirty locations in places where I didn’t really need to gain permission. We were a tight little crew on the film, consisting of two or three people besides the actors. With a little crew like that it’s easy to go and shoot unnoticed. So we actually didn’t always bother asking for permission as we were going to soak everything in blood.

WLF/ZZN: Some of the blood spatter—especially on the actor’s faces, looks painstakingly applied. Did you have a particular philosophy with regard to the make-up and special effects?
I just wanted the blood-spatter on the actors to increase throughout the film. Most of the time I did the blood-spatter on the actors myself because it was so much fun to throw blood at them. Every single day of shooting I covered them in this sticky, smelly, homemade blood-mix and they really hated me for it. So later in the shoot when I had to do my zombie cameo, the actors couldn’t wait to do the blood-spatter on me.
In terms of the gore and special effects I really wanted to do everything as old school, down and dirty as possible. No CGI blood spatter or anything like that. Horror films these days tend to overuse that stuff and just doesn’t look good, no matter how well it’s done. Even on big-budget films gory CGI gags look like crap. So I’m glad we stayed clear of that and did everything the old fashion way.

WLF/ZZN: Kunzen, the German composer wrote a famous oratorio that shares a title with your film. Coincidence, or inspiration?
…flat out coincidence.

WLF/ZZN: George Romero is insistent that zombies are regular people reduced to base instinct. Agree or disagree?
I’m not fond zombie films explaining to much about what zombies are, and Romero for one tend to do that too much. In the case of “Opstandelsen” I guess the take on zombies is more in a spiritual sense, and my zombies are maybe a bit more demonic then they are “humans reduced to base instinct”. But there’s really no explanation for the zombies in my film and you never really get to know that much about them. I think the zombie is interesting to use in telling a story and it’s an amazing concept to use when doing a story about Christianity. But I only needed them to be there as a background terror throughout the film, I didn’t want to do a film “about the zombie character” as I think that is a general mistake a lot of zombie-directors make.

WLF/ZZN: What are your feelings on having Opstandelsen dubbed into other languages for DVD release?
Bring it on! I would love that. As long as the subtitled version is available I don’t mind a dubbed version being out there as well. We’ll see what happens, but for now people in the US will have to settle for a subtitled version on the Danish DVD release.

WLF/ZZN: Are you dedicated to the horror genre?
Not really. As much as I love horror and gore, and as much as I really enjoyed making Opstandelsen, I also want to explore a lot of other things. To do another horror film like Opstandelsen isn’t something that appeals that much to me right now. But some day I might get back to it.

WLF/ZZN: What is next for you?
I’m doing music videos these days, toying around with a lot of different styles and trying to do some interesting stuff. And then I just started writing a feature film that people should be able to enjoy in a couple of years. Very exiting stuff! If folks are interested in what I’m up to they should join me on FB.

WLF/ZZN: Thanks so much, Casper. And thanks for the badass film.

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