Not long ago on Twitter, I found a page that had started an Indiegogo page to bring us a short movie.
This isn’t just any sort of movie but one that holds a very strong message. I had a great chance of being able to interview Hannah Smith, the Director.
Firstly, I would like to ask about the title of the movie, Valhalla, what’s your reason for choosing this?
The title of the film was chosen for its meaning. In Norse Paganism, when a person dies, they spend their eternity in Helheim, a literal underworld presided over by the Goddess, Hel. Despite its name, this place is not a Norse equivalent to the Christian Hell but simply a place that all who die are said to reside. Only a chosen few are selected to reside in Valhalla. These fallen are warriors, who have died in battle. While it is almost certain that this was a sword and shield kind of death in the original texts, we chose this title for the film as one of the biggest battles of modern man is mental health.
We debated other titles, for example, Yggdrassil, the Norse tree of life. The original concept for the film was a film, fairly heavy on the effects, exploring each of the nine realms connected by this tree. We felt in the end that as the concept changed and shifted more towards the mental health aspect, Valhalla was a stronger title.
Are you able to tell us a little bit about the story?
The script is still in the drafting process – it is our intention that the story will be told in the form of a prayer, spoken by a Norse warrior before he heads into battle. The prayer will be in voiceover, speaking as he readies himself and ultimately faces his final battle where he will be chosen to enter into Valhalla.
At the same time as the warrior readies himself for battle, modern images will interlock to the narrative. It is the intention that the modern man’s journey will also resonate with the prayer, for example, should the prayer mention Jotunheim, the land of frost giants, the modern man would perhaps be seen consuming medication – well known to make some feel numb and frozen. Other imagery such as Fenrir will appear, in Norse a monstrous wolf, in modern times a representation of the ‘black dog’ analogy often associated with depression. His journey will be that of the average man suffering depression in our day and age, leading to the battle he faces, in which he will see the same symbol as the warrior – only to discover the he in this case must continue his battle.
What kind of reaction are you hoping for from this film?
We are hoping that the film will draw attention to the struggle that many men face in our current timeline. Vikings are seen as a very masculine concept – despite the equality shown on battlefields with the involvement of shield maidens – which we hope will draw a male audience to the film and promote the discussion of mental health struggles.
Have you always loved making movies or is this a first for you?
I have always loved making movies. Personally, I have an educated background with a degree in film and television production and have turned my hand to a number of genres in the past. This will be the second short that I have directed, the first being a science fiction film of a pre-apocalyptic nature. I have also been involved in a number of features, that I would say come from a similar time period as what we are going for here. Filmmaking is a passion of mine, and something I hope to be with me as a future career.
What’s your reason for wanting to make this movie?
I want to make this movie to spread the awareness of mental health struggles. I’ve always been interested in Norse mythology and wanted to make a film with this concept. The mental health aspect came from my own struggles with depression and anxiety. I have been on this journey for most of my life, and at the moment can say that I am coping well, however, the battle is never over.
Hopefully your goal of funding this movie will be complete soon, when it is, how long would it be before we are likely to see the movie and what ideas do you have for showing it?
Once the funding for the film is completed, which would be around the December mark if successful, the schedule would hopefully see us to a Summer release – the special effects likely to take the most time.
Regarding showing the film, backers who have selected the appropriate perk will be able to view the film privately. The film will then be entered into festivals in the hopes of reaching a wider audience. Eventually, it will be released online for all.
If you wish to help find the project, further information, including perks, can be found at the Indiegogo site: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/valhalla-short-film#/
No one should suffer alone: https://www.samaritans.org