From A Background Actress’s Point of View: The Ash Lad 2

The first time I got familiar with the title The Ash Lad was back in 2016. I do remember thinking that it had probably something to do with the male version of Cinderella. Indeed, not having heard of the trilogy telling a Norwegian story that goes back to 1850, oh boy, I could not have been more wrong…

In spring 2016, I was lucky to be part of The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King (Askeladden – I Dovregubbens hall, 2017) production, shot partly in the Czech Republic, as a background actress. It was my first time meeting and working with Norwegian director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose. The four young leading actors, named Eili Harboe, Vebjørn Enger, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen and Elias Holmen Sørensen, seemed to have lots of fun while filming. We spent two days at a castle, where we shot some scenes shown at the beginning and towards the end of the feature. The atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed; honestly, it felt like being with friends at a summer camp. Later, it was great to see the final product, how the real-life locations, the editing and the SFX (special effects) worked together in a compact way as a whole.

The production of the second part, titled The Ash Lad: In Search of the Golden Castle (I Soria Moria Slott, 2019), took place at the beginning of summer 2018. And again, I was lucky to have been part of it. Normally, I do read the book version of a story before I see its adaptation on TV or a big screen, however, in the case of The Ash Lad, I decided not to do that. Firstly, I already had the visualisation from the set so both my mind and my imagination would have been tricked big time. Secondly, I did not want any spoilers, just like I won’t provide you with any from the two filming days I spent on set. All I can say is that the costumes and the set felt natural and divine, and it will stick to the fairy-tale-like cinematography. This, of course, would not have been possible without the other departments such as hair, make-up, art and props, and lots of others. They all are important as they assist the actors in getting into character and help the characters come alive.

Mikkel Brænne Sandemose was once again behind the wheel as the director. It was also great to see the same actors at the distance of two years. Not only were they playing a more adult version of their characters but also they seemed more secure acting-wise – thanks to probably working on other productions in the meantime. For instance, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen had a role (among others) in the project Amundsen (Espen Sandberg), the trailer of which was released a couple of days ago. Some of the scenes of this film were also shot here in the Czech Republic and will be in cinemas in February 2019. So, it was during one intense scene when Mads even prompted the background actors to get into a certain mood that would work for him and his performance. It was one of the signs of growth and experience, and the only time I have experienced the same was with Norwegian actor Jakob Oftebro.

Being co-produced by Sirena Films, both parts of The Ash Lad series used some of the great locations the Czech Republic has to offer – be it beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes, castles, château, and then there is the Barrandov Studios as well. The incentives offered in recent years made it easier for foreign productions to look into Central Europe to find locations for their projects. Honestly speaking, the budget part I would not like to discuss here because there are far more competent individuals and more suitable platforms to do that.

But I do believe that the beauty of the Czech Republic and, indeed, the quality of the work the Czech crew performs day by day make all the pre-production, production and post-production phase go smoother. It is always nice to see familiar faces and productions coming back. Similarly, I have had the pleasure to be part of a production featuring Jakob Oftebro during four projects in the past four years, but that is a whole nother story…

CategoriesIndustry Issue 24