INTERVIEW: Marius Holst talks King Of Devil’s Island

Following somewhat of a whirlwind tour of the industry circuit’s most celebrated film festivals, not to mention a warm reception both critically and commercially, Marius Holst‘s astounding King Of Devil’s Island is now yours to own on DVD and Blu-ray.

Centring on two young inmates at Bastøy Prison in Norway, the film charts their road to friendship against a backdrop of harsh conditions, manual labour and child abuse. Unable to escape, they must fight for their futures.

Last week, I put a few questions to the director to mark the film’s home entertainment release, and he was kind enough to say a few words about its basis in reality, the gruelling shoot, the phenomenal cast and his plans for the future.

Involved from the beginning, Marius Holst had first attempted to get the film off the ground five or six years ago, when he began developing the story with a writer, but it simply wasn’t to be. After taking the project to a number of producers, Holst decided instead to produce it through his own company, 4 ½, established back in 1998.

When asked if he was surprised that such an infamous episode in Norwegian history hadn’t been dramatised sooner, he pointed out that although he was aware of the legend of Bastøy, the sheer extent of the island’s dark history was not known to him until he had started researching it.

“I guess no-one went into it in the same way. I started speaking to people and then going into the archives and reading about it. And that, of course, is when I started reading about the uprising.”

Shot in Estonia during the winter, the fifty-four day shoot was every bit as exhausting as it looks onscreen. For the film’s director — and key financer, both personally and through his production company — the biggest strain came not from the weather but from balancing the business of filmmaking with the books.

“I think for me the situation that made it tough was that I was carrying the creative responsibility for the film, but also the financial risk for the film. If the film hadn’t performed we would have been in a tight spot. It’s difficult to wear those two heads; to be on set, but at the same time trying not to run into overtime and be sensible in the way you film.”

Luckily for King Of Devil’s Island, it’s most famous cast member was invaluable in helping to draw some much-needed money to production when it was experiencing financial difficulties. Involved from the very start, before the film first broke down, Stellan Skarsgård was able to re-join the film when another project broke down in the states.

“I had Stellan [Skarsgård] in my mind from the start. He didn’t take much convincing. He liked the project, and he wanted to be on the project.”

As for the young cast, Holst knew he wanted to cast non-actors, but was also aware that the demands inherent in the roles would be challenging even for trained professionals. Searching for two young men who had both real presence and the ability to go to some difficult places emotionally, the director eventually settled on unknowns Benjamin Helstad and Trond Nilssen.

As for the future? Having almost finished his duties for King Of Devil’s Island‘s home entertainment release — after almost a decade of planning, production and promotion — Holst has two projects in mind, but hasn’t settled on one in particular. While neither project was developed by the director himself, at least one will see him helming another period piece, based on real events.

Whatever it is, we can’t wait to find out more in the future. You can read my review of King Of Devil’s Island here.

*I would like to thank Marius Holst for taking the time to answer my questions, as well as Abundant PR for making this interview possible in the first place.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

3 Responses to INTERVIEW: Marius Holst talks King Of Devil’s Island

  1. Nostra says:

    Nice interview! Haven’t seen the movie yet…

  2. Pingback: November 2012 – Welcome to Scotland! « popcornaddict

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