Viking 'mini epic' Tears of Valhalla finalist in Tropfest short film festival

Tears of Valhalla is a finalist in the Tropfest NZ short film festival. From left, Daniel Rathbon, Ilena Shadbolt, James ...
MANDI LYNN

Tears of Valhalla is a finalist in the Tropfest NZ short film festival. From left, Daniel Rathbon, Ilena Shadbolt, James Bennett and Brendan West.

It started with a dare and ended in a seven-minute "mini epic" Viking tale.

In eight weeks, Tears of Valhalla went from a draft to a completed short film, and it is now one of 16 finalists for the New Zealand edition of Tropfest, the world's largest short film festival.

Producer and co-writer Stephanie Sinclaire​ says the film came about after she and director David Allen had just completed the 48 Hours film-making competition last September.

Ilena Shadbolt plays a young Linayehin in Tears of Valhalla.
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Ilena Shadbolt plays a young Linayehin in Tears of Valhalla.

The Wellington-based pair had been working on many big projects and dared themselves to "just keep going", she says.

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The story is centred around a young warrior princess who receives a sacred amulet from her dying clan king father, creating a rift between her and its "rightful heir", her older brother.

Actor and stunt professional Sarah Munn plays the adult Linayeh.
MANDI LYNN

Actor and stunt professional Sarah Munn plays the adult Linayeh.

Two weeks after the completion of the first draft, more than 70 people, armed with horses, drones and medieval weapons, had convened at Castlepoint in Wairarapa to begin filming.

More than 200 unique pieces of clothing and armoury were made by CK Filmdesign costume designer Charlotte Kelleher and her team in less than a month.

The second part was shot in various Wellington locations, including Seatoun and Mt Victoria.

The number of crew, and the length of footage, matched that of a feature-length film, Sinclaire says.

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"We had to crunch it down to seven minutes ... The amount of work was just mindboggling."

The crew came away like "war-torn warriors" themselves, and sent the film off moments before the Tropfest deadline on December 2.

The female protagonist has to fight prejudice and choose between violence and peace, .

"I liken it to a Viking Whale Rider – she has to stand up to everyone to prove herself, and it's really really hard."

Ilena Shadbolt plays the young protagonist Linayehin and stunt professional Sarah Munn plays the adult Linayeh.

The crew were thrilled their "mini epic" was one of the finalists.

"A crazy little moment, with a couple of Wellingtonians getting into trouble, and we've ended up with something we're really proud of," Sinclaire says.

"We would love to win but we've got marvellous other contenders and we're just thrilled that our crazy, madcap film is included."

Wellington films Remember When Dad Fought a Ghost?, directed by Ryan Knighton, and Assistance, directed by Adam Browne, are also Tropfest finalists.

Winners will be announced at Tropfest NZ on Saturday, February 18 at TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth.

All finalist films will be available for viewing on tropfest.com/nz from 10.30pm on Saturday night.

 - Stuff

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