Following its world premiere at SXSW, Rafael Motamayor chats with writers/directors Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren, as well as stars Johannes Holopainen and Ville Tiihonen to discuss the comedy road trip movie Heavy Trip…
First I have to say, coming from Norway I loved this movie. It was funny but also really sweet. How did you come up with the idea?
Juuso Laatio: The idea has been brewing in our minds for a long time, and it came from many places. Mainly it just came from us being in Finland surrounded my many metal bands. Me and Jukka have been doing projects for about 12 years now, mainly music videos for Finnish bands and those inspired us to finally take what we know from music videos and turn our knowledge into film.
At what point did you decide to make it a comedy?
Jukka Vidgren: I think we just didn’t want to do a very serious movie. We like to have fun and we like to laugh, so a comedy seemed like a good choice. For a big part of the population, being a fan of metal music is cause for laughter, so we wanted to play into that while also showing that these are real people, you know? So it’s that balance.
How was the process of actually making the music? Because you have a few original songs.
Juuso: It was kind of easy, actually. One of the guys that we made music videos for is a good friend of ours. We did a demo for financers two and a half years ago. He made the music for that song, so we asked if he wanted to make a full-length feature. It was very collaborative, he would make comments on how the songs should be and he made new demos. We worked really close together.
How was the casting process like? Did you sing from before?
Johannes Holopainen: I am a singer from way back, but I never sung metal before. So it was a lot of fun to learn this new genre and build this character and how he embraces himself. It was an interesting journey.
How about you, Ville? You play the villain in the film. How did you prepare for the role?
Ville Tiihonen: Well, I grew a moustache. And I was already familiar with the kind of singing my character does. It’s like popular music from Finland. Most of the preparation was in learning to let go of my morals, and that came with the moustache.
What are some of your influences? You mentioned at the Q&A This is Spinal Tap and Blues Brothers…
Jukka: I think it was just the type of film we grew up with, you know. Comedy adventure films. But also The Simpsons was a huge influence, somehow that kind of humour got reflected in the movie.
This may be a bit of a spoiler, but I loved the way you portray Norwegians as sort of gun-nuts, how did you come up with that?
Juuso: We first had this idea of having an actual political crisis with NATO involved, but then we had some budget constraints. We couldn’t get as many tanks as we wanted, so we had to get creative and a bit smaller. We then look at what we could show for the Norwegians that was the furthest away from reality, and we settled on them believing they are action heroes.
Jukka: And that’s where the comedy comes from, having a really disturbed version of reality. Like the line from the coronel who says “I knew this day would come.”
What was the most challenging part of the shoot?
Johannes: Definitely the weather. It rained pretty much every day and it was a nightmare for the hair stylist to keep the wigs straight.
Heavy Trip is currently seeking distribution.
Rafael Motamayor is a journalist and movie geek based in Norway. You can follow him on Twitter.