Interview with Actor and Film Maker Kim Sønderholm

ED- The Eerie Digest is proud to introduce one of Denmark’s greatest independent film makers, Kim Sonderholm. Kim welcome to The Eerie Digest ! You are considered one of Denmark’s scariest men for the great acting that you have done, and the movies that you have produced. First tell us about your acting, and how you started in this career .

KS- “One of Denmarks scariest men”? Wow, I’ve never heard that one before, haha. It’s not really a question of me being scary, or anything like that, but me trying to do as good a piece of work as I can and still maintain the pleasure and energy not to forget integrity in doing so. I’ve played most things from comedy, drama, action but true, the past few years there have been a fair share of horror roles aswell, which is great by me, seing as I love the genre and have loved it since I was a kid.

I guess my story how why I wanted to get into acting is not much different from anyone elses, I’ve been dreaming of it since I was a kid and when opportunity knocked I jumped on the train. I did a lot of different jobs since I left school but never felt sadisfied or fullfilled with them. I’ve always had a great interest in computers but even an education in that field didn’t interested me for long when it came down to it, it simply became way too borring way too quickly. At this point I was 25 years old and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn’t wanna be one of those sad 80 year old men sitting at the nursing home, boring the hell out of anyone around me with “how big I would have become if only given the chance”. So right there and then I decided that it was always better to have tried and failed than never tried at all, so I went to the acceptance auditions for a Russian based method acting school in Denmark and was accepted in the first attempt. I’m not gonna lie and claim it was a walk in the park but I finally found my purpose in life and since then I’ve gone with it, through good and bad. And honestly, I think anyone should atleast give it a try if you have an acting dream. Just don’t make the mistake of believing things are simple and easy if only you get one good role – it’s not, it’s a struggle and will continue to be so, but if you really burn for it, you learn to cope. Just remember to maintain respect for the business and the people in it, cause it was turn on you quicker than you even notice yourself. And I guess that what goes as far as being an actor goes for being a film maker in general as well.

First of all you have to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work, much much more that you expect at first. Finishing a film takes forever – or at least it will feel that way. Be sure that is what you wanna do before you start wasting other peoples time with it.

When starting out as an actor I was apart of quite a bunch of films that was never finished because the directors lost the will to get it done after filming was complete. So, don’t be a douche bag – finish what you start, even when it hurts – and it will hurt, trust me! Remember, most likely these people will lose all respect for you if you don’t have enough respect for them to finish your job and chances are they won’t work with you again; after all for them it is time completely wasted and promises never fullfilled. I know me saying this might make a couple of people in Denmark feel a little pointed at, and that’s fine, cause it’s fully deserved. It’s harsh words, I fully realise that but unless you’re completely sure you want your film done, don’t even begin.

ED- What do you consider the earliest role that you played that considered you to become an up and coming actor?

KS- Hard question to answer. Things have been going uphill slowly but steadily for years, so it’s very hard to pinpoint one specific role from another. For my own part though I know that it started becoming really interesting when I started directing and producing myself

ED- What led you into Directing and Producing films?

KS- Curiosity! I’m a trained actor but never had any formal training within the fields of production unless you count a very beginner-like course at college years before they even started using computers to edit. I actually tried editing the old fashioned way, although with VHS tapes then, haha….oh well… But I had been asked if I were ever gonna direct anything myself for years and I was always quick to say no cause to be honest it terrified me a bit. I have a lot of respect for a lot of directors so it was a little bit terrifying of a thought, but I guess my curiosity got the better of me as a film I wrote got produced and I started co-producing a few features, I guess the next step for me was to try to direct and now I’m glad I did, it’s a very exiting world so see your visions come to life when it works….and when it doesn’t work, it’s incredibly frustrating, haha.

ED- Tell us about your films ‘Tour de Force’ and ‘Little Big Boy’.

KS- Well Tour de Force and Little Big Boy are my second and third feature films. Tour de Force is at the time of writing this finished, but still unreleased. It’s gonna be released in North America on DVD in May 2010 though. I wanted to do something a little different from my first film, Craig, which is about a young man who snaps after years of mental torture. Craig is a horror film and I wanted to do something in another vein but still with a similar “downward spiral” sort of story, and that’s how Tour de Force came to be. I’m not gonna reveal anything but it has a certain amount of gun toading violence and dark humor. Little Big Boy is a sort of escape from that. It is horror in a certain sense but not as much as it is comedy and basically a mockumentary sort of film about a film director going through hell to get his new film done. I suppose you can call it a metafilm, but then again, not really. I was quite inspired by the documentary Overnight, which basically is a story about how the film Boondock Saints came to be. I found the concept quite interesting and from there went into hiding for a few days and came up with a plot that basicly people are either gonna hate or love. It’s not a film as you know it in a traditional sense, but I sure for a fact that a lot of people are gonna love it.

ED- An important film for you was ‘Craig’. Please tell us about it and the character that you played as well.

KS- Budget was limited like hell, but I had two great producers giving me invaluable support in all aspects of the word. Without Jan T. Jensen and Jim

Pedersen it wouldn’t have been possible at all, and we realized how well we worked together that we formed Cetus Productions during the production – the company that now helms the final production of Craig and other projects being worked on at the moment.

I always were very interested in the serial killer films, both the ones about fictive killers and the ones about real-life killers. Without of course thinking what they did was cool, I’ve always found it quite interesting, and as the time was right it became more and more interesting to me to explore that as an actor. I had developed this serial killer story over several years in my head, and finally I got around to actually making it a full-on story and we started to film it before I hardly noticed it. Basicly one day we made the choice to kick it off and just did. Wonderful with that kind of freedom as a film maker.

I wanted to play Craig even before the story was developed fully. I knew it would be an interesting journey for me to take. The film is about a shy guy named Craig who loses both his parents when their house burns down. His sister survives, but due to heavy lack of oxygen, she is sent into a deep coma. Craig has only got one friend, Cliff, but he’s got more than enough problems on his own, so he cannot really be there for Craig. Meanwhile, Craig is under heavy medication, and when he one day looses his precious Lithium pills, his whole world is getting turned upside down.

I wanted to see if it was possible for a character to gain peoples sympathy, in this case cause he is rather pathetic and sad, and to see how far that sympathy stretches when he starts doing evil deeds. Will they on some level be able to understand him – not condoning it necessarily – or how will they react? It’s clear that Craig has had a very tough life, experienced very gruesome things – but does that justify punishing other people?

I’m quite happy for the most part about the cast we finally assembled. We never really did have any auditions cause I first and foremost wanted to use actors I already knew and had worked with before – a lot of reasons, but primarily to take a load off my work preassure. I didn’t have to find new faces, I had a big enough network of friends and collegues to put in whoever I knew would do a good job in specific parts. I also took some casting chances and made some choices underway, some were good, others not so good, but in the end I’m quite happy with what came out of it.

When the reviews came in I foremost learned that you can’t please everybody. A danish newspaper called it a splatter film, which to me shows a lot of ignorance, cause it is definately not a splatter film! Then, a webzine complained about it not being bloody enough. So I mean – people expect different things and you can’t meet all those expectations. A lot of great reviews came aswell, so these are the ones I choose to focus on, there are links to a handful on them on the website www.craigthemovie.com A lot of magazines, both danish and internationally, took it very nicely to heart and I thought was fair in their comments. I never really wanted to make a clean-cut film, I wanted to make a film with it’s own oddities and own personality, if you will. If either everyone hated it or everyone loved it, it wouldn’t really be that interesting to make. But as it seems, people took different likings to it – most positive, luckily, haha – and that means they actually related to it, somehow. And that’s all I wanted really.. It’s not a brainy film, it’s very approachable, but hopefully it does challenge you a bit when watching as well – in a good way.

To be honest, I wanted to make it a little surrealistic as well, a bit “messy” and gritty if you will, cause that’s how Craig’s mind is – messy. I’ve been a huge fan of David Lynch for years and love the way he is able to affect your subconscious. Sometimes his movies don’t make a whole lot of sense, but you still do get something out of it. I mean, I’ve watched “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Drive” several times now, and every time I think I get something out of it. Now, that far being it from me to compare myself with “The Lynch”, but I tried to put some elements in that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at the same time on another level, did. I’ve had a lot of reactions to it, positive I’m glad to say, but different people get different things out of it, but all things fit in somehow, so it’s an amazing thing to explore.

ED- ‘Horror Vault I’ and ‘Horror Vault II’ are horror anthologies. Tell us about these presentations.

KS- Yes, and the third one is coming out this summer.

Well, I’ve always loved Creepshow sort of stuff and I always wanted to make something of the sort. Sort of a horror anthology, so yeah I kinda took the initiative to get it started, but there’s been so many great people involved in it now, that it’s not anything I can take full credit for, except for maybe coordinating the project. I never really got to know Tales From The Crypt all that well until the recent years – heard about it, but never saw it. I bought all the seasons on DVD and once I got started watching, I couldn’t stop. It was like a fun trip back to the days when I first saw Creepshow in my teenage years. Great! I used to be a big fan of Amazing Stories aswell, not really horror, but they had a lot of supernatural aspects in on it. To be honest, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t see the Twilight Zone movie from 1983 until recently either. Again, not really horror, but it was interesting. Heard so much about it and the TV shows, but never actually saw it. But I love the idea of smaller stories, it is a very different thing telling a story in the short format, than it is in the feature format. It is definitely both things I’ll keep on doing, but it is very different in many ways.

Well  a lot of great film makers have participated in this Horror Vault endavour and I’m not gonna name any cause I’m afraid I might forget some, but it’s been really exciting and people generally have taken them well to heart, which is why we’re ofcourse officially now doing a fourth one for release early next year too. I’m choosing to keep this info a little nonchalant cause if you get me started on telling about The Vault I can almost write a book about it, hehe….but read more at www.thehorrorvault.net

ED- So how did you end up playing one of the lead characters in ‘Bleed With Me’?

KS- Well the director needed a psychopath and he immidiately thought of me. I probably shouldn’t think too much about that.. haha.. No, to be honest the film was shot almost four years ago at written date (it was March 2006) and I don’t quite remember, but I think he saw me in something and asked me. Pretty straight forward. I hadn’t done any horror at that point, so I thought it would be fun. I was in the extremely early stages of doing my own film “Craig” at the same time, though. Which, in turn, does have many common factors with Bleed With Me, so it was quite a task to remember to be able to seperate the two characters, but I think I managed it. Both are demented killers, but I’d say there is a pretty huge difference between them still as The Chauffer is a relentless killer with no remorse while Craig is an insecure guy who regrets each of his crimes afterwards.

I’d say he is not the sort of person who would discriminate. He is not a woman hater, but a people hater – he hates everybody. And I mean, you’ve seen it, he doesn’t just take it out on women. But yes, he is a bitter man, he was once a normal guy making a living doing an honest job as a taxi driver, but things happened along the way that warped him. Some things are revealed throughout the film, others are revealed in the prequel which might be made one day. But when Bleed With Me starts up, he has already gone bunkers over the edge, as the first scene of the film already clearly shows. He really only have a grotch against one person, but he isn’t afraid to kill off anything that stands in his way plus a few others that happens to cross his path.

ED- What new project are you working on presently?

KS- Currently struggling to finish Little Big Boy and make yet another short story happen for The Horror Vault 4. Other than that acting parts in several films in USA, UK and Germany coming up. Can’t really say a whole lot about that before the contracts are finally negotiated, hehe.

ED- Kim, your films are the kind of stuff that our readers really enjoy. They are all fascinated with the horror genre as well as mysteries and thrillers. We hope that you remember The Eerie Digest and keep us informed of all your latest projects. We thank you for your time with us and hope to hear from you again.

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