Interview with danish director Kim Sønderholm

DVD horror extreme TetroVideo

Kim-SonderholmA talk with Kim Sønderholm, danish actor, film producer and director. He directed several feature films and short films but he also has a big acting career. He granted DarkVeins an interview to chat about his movies and his passions.
(Photo by Loui Vadmand)

L: Hello Kim, thank you for taking the time to talk with me! Tell us something about you.
K: Well, I hail from Denmark where I’ve lived my whole life, born 1973, been acting for about 15 years, had the privilege of working not only in Denmark but also the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France… and a lot of other places. I hope nobody takes offence if I forgot their country. I’ve had the opportunity to direct a couple of feature films and short films myself which is also a thing I find very fullfilling but for me the acting is still the essential thing for me, which is why I haven’t directed anything I didn’t have an acting role in aswell. Some might call that pompous and maybe they’re right, but I do what feels right. If I was to direct something with no acting parts that would suit me of course I wouldn’t force the act on it.

kimL: How did you get into acting?
K: Always wanted to be an actor, but it took me some time until I started pursuing it, but once I did things happened very quickly. I attended acting school from 1998 to 2001 and had already done a few short films and roles on TV shows when I graduated. My heart has always burned for film so I moved to Copenhagen, which is the capital of Denmark and where most of the action is. I have been to my birthtown Aarhus several times to work since then though, always delightful to come back to the city where you grew up.

L: You have starred in a lot of horror films. What are the most important role of your acting career?
K: That is an impossible question to answer, I would if I could. But it’s a question I’ve been asked a lot of times before. There are a lot of films I’m really proud of having done and there are some I’m not quite as proud of having done. If I have to pick one it would have to be the feature film I directed and played the lead in myself, “Craig” – but the main reason is that it gave me a lot of opportunities afterwards. A lot of people around the world have seen that film and I’ve been offered a lot of roles based on that film and I still do, I still get fanmail from people telling me they loved it and I still see movie reviewers reviewing it, eventhough it was released six years ago. Most reviewers have positive things to say and a few hate it, but that’s the name of the game and you can’t make everybody happy. But it does seem that my little pet project paid off in many ways seing as it still gets me work nearly seven years after its release.

L: When did you first discover your passion for filmmaking?
K: In the cradle, I think! Even as a toddler I was crazy about Star Wars and James Bond, acting out scenes from the films, forcing my friends to act them out with me. I guess it didn’t really come as a shock to my parents when I told them I wanted to pursue acting, haha. I did however take me quite a few years before I finally found the nerve to get myself started, but that’s another story.

L: Which do you prefer: acting or directing?
K: Well like said before, I love doing both things, the creativity of it all, but if I have to pick one I would stick with the acting, definitely. Although I’d love the opportunity to direct more movies in the future too.

L: How did you get involved with producing?
K: Out of sheer necessity, I had nobody else to produce my pet projects “Mental Distortion” and later “Craig” so I had to do it myself. These days though I don’t do much producing anymore, I leave it to people who like doing it and are good at it – I was never very thrilled about or good at that part of the game.

mental-distortionL: In 2007 you wrote and directed Mental Distortion. What can you say about it?
K: Well, Mental Distortion was really the first thing I ever directed, half of it really just started as an attempt to see what I could do with a camera – if anything. I did everything on my own, I was my own Robert Rodriguez one man crew. Well, that’s not fair of me to say really, I did have a little help from a couple of friends on some trickier scenes. But the idea quickly grew and grew and ended up becoming a feature film named “Craig” that I found myself definitely not able to do on my own.

vaultL: Can you talk about the horror anthology film The Horror Vault? What about its two sequels (The Horror Vault 2 and The Horror Vault 3)?
K: Basically, The Horror Vault was my attempt at making something a little bit like the good old “Creepshow” anthologies, a couple of small stories put into a feature film, good fun. Before mentioned “Mental Distortion” was apart of the first Horror Vault, by the way. They didn’t exactly turn out how I planned to be honest, not that I’m not happy about them, I like them for what they are but I always wanted to make them a little more interwined like “Creepshow” were. But anyway, I won’t badmouth them, I like them and I know a lot of people like them too, but I did have somewhat higher hopes for them when starting out.

sinister-visionsL: Sinister Visions is the title of another horror anthology. Can you please tell us about it?
K: Haha, well, basically “Sinister Visions” was an attempt to do what I didn’t manage to do with “The Horror Vault”, and this time around I think I succeeded a lot better. I directed three of the five segments myself, one of the other segments came from my good swedish friend Henric Brandt who also directed a short for “The Horror Vault 2” and the other one was an american produced short that I was suggested to use by it’s lead actor, David C. Hayes, whom I worked with on “The Horror Vault 3”. “Sinister Visions” was released world wide on DVD about a year ago, go get it at amazon now!

succubusL: Succubus is the title of your segment and it tells the story of a succubus. Where did the idea come from?
K: Well to be honest the idea wasn’t mine but I was searching for a project with a supernatural theme for a competition held here in Denmark named Movie Battle, and the topic for the 2012 competition was that. When I was approached by the writer to do it I liked it a lot cause it had some character development in it aswell and some dramatic opportunities. We also had some great people working on it like Anders Lerche who did the awesome creature make up on it, something that everybody who’ve seen it has commented on so I really have to pay a lot of kudos to his amazing work on the film, that was really great! This is why I decided to jump on board to direct it, and ofcourse play a small part in it aswell. It was a struggle to finish it and we tragicly lost the photographer only two weeks after we shot it, Allan Vælum passed away the day after our wrap party under really odd circumstances. I know how this sounds and I swear I’m not trying to say it has anything to do with the film but it was very odd and extremely sudden. I was just getting to know the guy and planning future projects and then – gone. Anyway, this is why the final film was dedicated to him, we thought it only fair that he’d be remembered. Oh, and “Succubus” is also to be found on the “Sinister Visions” anthology, by the way.

L: What are you currently working on? What are your future plans?
K: Oh there are several things I can’t talk about at this time, sorry. But I do have several things up my sleeve, looks like 2015 is gonna be a busy year aswell.

L: What are your top three favorite horror films and why? Do you have a favorite director?
K: Hard! I have to say “The Exorcist” simply because it was the first film ever to scare me, and boy, did it scare me – I was 13 and barely slept for two weeks after seing it. That film really made an impression. I had the opportunity to experience the director William Friendkin live about half a year ago he visited Copenhagen to do a seminar with Nicolas Winding Refn, that was really quite an experience to hear him talk about his time working on that film – and of course all his other films. I love the “Friday the 13th”, “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Halloween” films, you know those 80s slasher flicks (well “Halloween” is late 70s but anyway), I know those films can seem quite weak when compared to what we’re exposed to nowadays in film (well, even when watching the news on TV, I guess…) but I love the campy atmosphere and it’s all good fun, I don’t really find them scary, just fun entertainment. It’s hard to pick any newer good scary films I think, although there are a few… I like the “Insidious” series and basically anything by those guys, they know their stuff. There are other newer films I like too but right now no other titles spring to mind. “Se7en” isn’t exactly a horror film but I would find reasons to call it psychological horror and include that here, that’s probably one of the best films ever made! I’m quite fond of Alexandre Aja’s films aswell, both as a director and producer, I have a soft spot for his “Haute Tension”, it’s so raw and relentless and in your face, it’s impossible to ignore.

L: Leave a message to the DarkVeins readers!
K: Well thank you for reading my drivel, I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you’ll keep watching the films I make and star in, I feel very privileged to be where I am, having the opportunity to make the films I make and without an audience, what would it all be worth? Thank you for your time!

L: Thank you Kim!

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