Interview with Danish director and actor Kim Sønderholm

Kim-SonderholmInterview with Kim Sønderholm, Danish actor, film producer and director. He has directed several feature and short films but also has a prolific acting career. Kim Sønderholm granted us an interview in which he will talk about his films and passions.
(Photo by Loui Vadmand)

L: Hi Kim, thank you for giving us this interview! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

K: Well, I come from Denmark, where I have lived all my life. I was born in 1973 and have been an actor for about 15 years. I have had the privilege of working not only in Denmark but also in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France...and many other places. I hope no one will be offended if I forgot to mention your country. I have had the opportunity to direct a couple of feature and short films, and although directing is very fulfilling, I find that acting is much more essential for me. That's why in all the films I've directed I've also had a leading role. Some people may think that this is presumptuous of me and they may be right but I do what I think is right. However, if I were to direct a film that did not involve a role suitable for me of course I would not strive to play it.

kimL: When did your acting career begin?

K: I always wanted to be an actor but it took me a while to start pursuing my dream and once I was convinced everything happened quickly. I went to acting school from 1998 to 2001. By the time I graduated I had already made a couple of short films and had also been assigned roles in some TV shows. My heart has always belonged to filmmaking so I moved to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, a suitable place to make films. I have been to my hometown Aarhus several times for work-related matters and I must say that it is always pleasant to return to the place where you grew up.

L: You have acted in many horror films. In your acting career, what is the most important role you have played?

K: This is an impossible question to answer, I would if I could, also because I have been asked many times. I am proud to have acted in many films but others I am not. For example, I played an important role in the film Craig, which I directed and starred in, which later gave me so many opportunities and that is the main reason I mentioned it. In fact, after this film I was offered so many roles similar to the one I played in Craig. To this day I still get emails from fans who liked the film and I read new reviews all the time even though the film came out six years ago. Most reviewers speak positively of it, others panned it but that's part of the game: you can't please everyone. It seems that my little project has paid off in many ways and still continues to keep me working almost seven years after its release.

L: When did you discover your passion for film?

K: In the cradle, I think! Ever since I was a child I was crazy about Star Wars and James Bond, I used to imitate some scenes from the movies involving even my friends. I think it was a shock to my parents to learn of my desire to be an actor, hahah. It took me a couple of years before I found the courage to start but that's another story.

L: What do you prefer: acting or directing?

K: Well, as I said before, I like to do both, to be creative above all else but if I had to choose one of the two options I would opt for acting without any doubt. Although I would love to have the opportunity to direct more films in the future.

L: You are also a producer. Can you tell us about that?

K: I became a producer out of sheer necessity. I didn't have anyone else to produce my personal projects "Mental Distortion" and then "Craig," so I had to do it myself. Now I don't do production as much because I let the competent people take care of it also because I was never very enthusiastic and good at it.

mental-distortionL: In 2007 you wrote and directed "Mental Distortion." What can you tell us about that?

K: Well, "Mental Distortion" was really the first film I directed. Initially it started out as a rehearsal. I did everything by myself, kind of a Robert Rodriguez in short. Well, actually I had a little help from a couple of friends in some of the more complicated scenes. The idea then quickly developed into a film entitled "Craig" that I myself would certainly not have been able to accomplish on my own.

vaultL: Can you tell us about the horror anthology The Horror Vault? What can you tell us about the two sequels (The Horror Vault 2 and The Horror Vault 3)?

K: Basically, The Horror Vault was an attempt to do something in the style of "Creepshow," inserting a couple of little stories and some good fun into the film. "Mental Ditorsion" mentioned earlier, by the way, was part of the first Horror Vault. To be honest, the two sequels did not turn out as I had planned. By that I don't mean I'm unhappy, I can say instead that I like them for what they are. I always wanted them to be a little more intertwined like the "Creepshows" but still I don't want to badmouth them because I like them and I know a lot of people like them too. Let's just say that at the beginning I had higher expectations for this saga.

sinister-visionsL: Sinister Visions is the title of another horror anthology. Can you mention anything about it?

K: Hahah, well, basically "Sinister Visions" was an attempt to do what I failed to achieve with "The Horror Vault" and this time I think I succeeded much better. I directed three of the five segments of which the anthology is composed. One of the segments is by my great Swedish friend Henric Brandt, who also directed a short film for "The Horror Vault 2". The other short film is an American product that was suggested to me for inclusion in the project by the lead actor David C. Hayes and with whom I worked in "The Vault Horror 3". "Sinister Visions" was released worldwide in DVD format about a year ago, go buy it on Amazon now!

Succubus posterL: Succubus is the title of your short film and it tells the story of a succubus. How did the idea come about?

K: Well, to be honest, the idea was not mine but I was looking for a project with a supernatural theme for a contest held here in Denmark called Movie Battle. That was the theme of the 2012 contest. When I was approached by the screenwriter to do it, I really liked it both because of the character development and the dramatic implications of the story. There were also other fantastic people who worked on this project, such as Anders Lerche who did the terrifying make-up of the creature, so everyone who saw the film complimented his incredible work. It was really great!
That is why I decided to direct it and of course to play a small part as well. It was difficult to carry it out. We tragically lost the photographer only two weeks after we shot. Allan Vælum died under very strange circumstances just the day after our wrap party. I know it may sound unbelievable and I swear I'm not trying to say it had anything to do with the film but everything was very strange and it happened extremely suddenly. Just when I was planning with him for future projects-he left. Anyway, this is why the film was dedicated to him. We thought that in this way we would keep his memory alive. By the way "Succubus" is part of "Sinister Visions".

L: What are you working on right now? What are your plans for the future?

K: Oh, there are several things I can't talk about right now, I'm sorry. But I have several projects in mind, it looks like 2015 is going to be a very busy year.

L: What are your top three favorite horror films and why? Who is the director you most respect?

K: It's difficult! I have to say "The Exorcist," simply because it was the first movie that managed to scare me. As a boy, I was 13 years old, I didn't sleep for two weeks after seeing it. That movie has stayed with me. I had the opportunity to meet director William Friendkin about a year and a half ago when he visited Copenhagen to do a seminar with Nicolas Winding Refn. It was really a wonderful experience to hear him talk about his time spent working on that film-and of course all his other films.
I love "Friday the 13th″, "Nightmare" and "Halloween," you know, those 80s slasher movies (although "Halloween" belongs to the late 70s). I know those movies may seem rather corny compared to what we are used to seeing in the movies today (even the news on TV...) but I really love the "campy" atmosphere typical of that period. I don't actually find them scary, just fun.
It's hard to pick a few good horror movies out of the recent ones, I think there are only a few. I like the "Insidious" saga and basically everything by those guys because they know their stuff. There are other recent movies that I like quite a bit but I can't think of any other titles right now. "Se7en" is not exactly a horror film but I would call it a psychological horror film and I think it's probably one of the best films ever made! I am a fan of Alexandre Aja's films, I appreciate him both as a director and producer. I have a soft spot for his "High Tension": it is such a raw and severe film...impossible to ignore.

L: Leave a message for DarkVeins readers!

K: Well, thank you for reading my nonsense. I hope it was an enjoyable read and that you continue to watch my films. I feel very lucky to be where I am and to have the opportunity to make the films I make but without an audience would it be worth it? Thank you for your time!

L: Thank you for your helpfulness Kim!

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Barbara Torretti
Barbara Torretti
Editor and moderator of the DarkVeins community. Passionate about horror cinema, I also do reviews and interviews pertaining to the film, music and art circuit.

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