Interview with Kratt director Rasmus Merivoo

Keri of Warped Perspective follows her review of Kratt with an interview with director Rasmus Merivoo.

As part of Scared Sheepless’s coverage of the Fantasia International Film Festival this year, I was very happy to offer a guest feature on an unusual title called Kratt (2021). Better still, we were contacted this week with regards to speaking to the director, Rasmus, about the ideas behind his film and how things have been going since its premiere. Look out for a release of Kratt, which is currently still running on the festival circuit but will hopefully on general release in the not-too-distant future, and in the meantime, here’s Rasmus on a film he describes as “a mullet haircut: business in the front, party in the back”!

1) Thank you very much for speaking with us! Firstly, the idea of the ‘kratt’ is quite novel; I hadn’t heard of this mythology before seeing your film. Why did you choose to bring this aspect of Estonian folklore to the screen?

RM: The mythological story of Kratt is the story of tools breaking the neck of their master. It is very well known in Estonia, but the story has always been told as existing in a world of the past. But now is the time, when we are more surrounded by tools than before: never have we been so dependent on tools. In LA, for example, I couldn’t get to the hotel from the airport without a smartphone. To travel, I needed planes, cars and a Covid passport too. I wanted to bring that old scary story to our modern world, to play with it in the environment of the small Estonian town I live in and to understand its deeply rooted warning. And share it with the world after that 🙂

2) The two lead characters, Mia and Kevin, are absolutely addicted to their smartphones and being asked to do without them leads to their encounter with the kratt! Nora and Harri, who play the leads, are your children, right? If so, what was the experience of working with them like?

RM: We reached a new level of appreciation for each other. I was their director, they were my professional actors. We played together, but it was work. They had their first real job experience with real pay, and they took it very seriously. But it was also a lot of hugs and laughter, drinking lemonade and eating pizza in the middle of the night. It was fun! We all loved it very much!

3) You tackle quite a lot of topics in your film, from the aforementioned ‘smartphone generation’, to political corruption, to the supernatural! How challenging was it to combine all of these ideas?

RM: It was like a very personal puzzle. All the bits here are from my life, things that I have been collecting – experiences, local stories, myths and memories. It just started making sense to me and I couldn’t stop digging deeper. I just had to find all the Kratts that are lurking in my town and shed some light on them. I wanted to be honest, and not to have self-censorship or hidden agendas and when miracles started to happen, I felt we were on the right path 🙂

4) Did you have any concerns about the Estonian sense of humour carrying across for foreign audiences? I feel like I got most of the jokes, but maybe not all! 

RM: I have seen this movie with audiences a lot of times now, and what I seem to be doing is crossing out all the jokes that have been laughed at! There has never been an audience that I have witnessed that has got all of them 🙂 Some jokes are visible only with the second viewing, or more. Some jokes are so personal I laugh alone and a couple of them are meant only to a specific target, but I feel the humour is only a bi-product for me. It just happens while I’m concentrating on the details of the story and connecting all the wires for communication to occur. Comedy seems to be the lubricant for ideas too extreme to swallow and laughter is something that is needed to digest them. And it’s more fun to make a comedy 🙂

5) Grandma – played by Mari Lill – was great in the film, and I loved the physical role she played. Can you tell us about working with her? Was it fun on set?

RM: She was one of the reasons I felt I should make this film. I met her on the set once and fell in love. She was known for a role playing a little witch in an old TV show for children, but she’d never been given a leading part in a film. I wanted to tailor her a role she could shine in and when she won the Estonian Oscar for best leading woman for her performance in Kratt, the whole audience stood up. It was a magical moment that made everybody happy and the world a better place. She connected with my children like a real granny from the first day and when production went colder and bloodier, she was a real trooper. We had a lovely time together. 

6) Finally, how has the film been received? And do you have any future plans for other features?

RM: The film has been received very well! I have been getting so many lovely messages from friends and strangers all over the world, so I feel that I must have done something right 🙂 I just wrote a new script for the next project, and we are trying to get it off the ground with Tallifornia [the production company behind Kratt]. I’m very excited about it but I don’t want to say a word yet. I just like the mystery 🙂 

Many thanks to Rasmus Merivoo for the interview. You can find out more about his work here: http://tallifornia.com/

Jake Bannerman Interview

I have been lucky enough to conduct a short interview with horror author Jake Bannerman.  Regular readers may remember his guest post back in September. But, before the interview it seems only right to introduce Jake’s cause and that is to raise $5000 for Breast Cancer Research by Christmas.  He’s doing this by donating 5% of all his book sales to the cause, but if you already have the book you can still donate any amount over at The Goat Franchise website.

 

So, now on with the interview:

 

1) First of all, thank you to you and your team The Goat Franchise for allowing me to feature your work here. Your team is obviously a great help to you. Would you recommend that other budding authors surround themselves with a similar team? What are the advantages and are there any disadvantages of working with a team?

 

Oh, no doubt about it! I had a plan going into this to surround myself with amazing people, full of positive energy and a passion for the chance to do something never before done before – to start from nothing and build to something amazing, all on faith. That was the number one qualification for this project,FAITH!

All of the Goat Gals are amazing at what they do, and they have a very difficult job to handle; and that is not only the work, but dealing with me on a personal basis! I am extremely impatient, and a very depressive, non-optimistic fellow. I have terrible mood swings! They have got to be mentally tough, and they know just how to handle me.

There is a disadvantage only in the fact that sometimes I worry that people will perceive the girls as they do me. The Goat Gals are their own thing, they represent me only in faith; they are the perfect example of the fact that the views and opinions expressed in my work are not necessarily the views shared by the Goat Gals. I feel bad sometimes because if someone ever goes off on them – and it HAS happened – I want to kill someone! It’s silly for some asshole to attack them for MY views.

I love each of the girls for different reasons and I would be nowhere close to where I am now without them.

 

2) Many people, when confronted with an illness such as yours would perhaps shy away from the more grim and violent side of things, but this obviously isn’t the case for you. Did you find your writing style or method changed in any way?

 

GREAT QUESTION! First let me explain this; the condition I have is related to leukemia and it is a slow degenerative disease that I and my doctors have known about for several years. I have refused to take the harsh medications, because I felt if I could wait I would, and unfortunately I waited too long. The condition has really turned for the worst, so we are taking aggressive measures to slow it down; this means chemo, and I knew it was coming so it’s not a shocking thing to me.

All indications are that we are going to be able to keep in under control. I will just be on some nasty drugs for the rest of my life, and that’s okay! I know it sounds very strange, but I only came out in public because I did not want to hide it, and if I can use my sickness to help others who am I not to stand up and do so?

No, my writing style has not changed or varied from day one. I do not understand the view of “OH NO, I’M DYING – let’s write about unicorns and cupcakes??!?!?” How about this – fuck unicorns!

 

3) What I really found interesting about The Pitchfork Diaries was the way that you integrated poetry in between short stories. So, Sophie’s Choice-style – poetry or prose? You can only choose one…

 

The poetry, just like the book itself, was kind of an idea thrown at me and I was like “Well okay, why not?!” Pitchfork was never supposed to happen; it is a result of Bailey, who is my ghost writer, throwing pieces of the Harvest at me and saying “This shit does not jive with the rest of the book!”

It was ‘Juden’, ‘Lullaby of Rape’ and something else she cut from the original draft of Harvest and I was asked by another party why I did not just make a book of short stories to get my name out there. It sounded like a great idea, so I went for it.

It’s the same thing with the poems, or ‘terror bursts’ as I call them. I can whip those things up in thirty seconds, so I threw one out to see the reaction they would get. People seemed to dig it so I put some in the book. I’m not sure if there will be any in Pitchfork Volume Two, so on that basis I choose prose.

 

4) What is your favourite book? And, perhaps more importantly, what’s your least favourite?

 

It’s one and the same! The Bible is easily the greatest piece of literature ever! Let me say this for the millionth time in my life; if you have not read the Bible you are missing out, because it is fantasy, horror, sci-fi, erotica, self-help and mystery all rolled into one!

Seriously, think about it; the great floods, the plagues, the crucifixion, the end of the world and the first sex ever! This book is incredible!

But, but, but – it is fiction, fiction, fiction! And that is why it is my least favorite book of all time. MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE DIED because of it, and in my opinion, the impact it has had on the world we live in is a travesty.

 

5) Last time you were let loose on Scared Sheepless your guest post raised a few really good points about non-conformity, even in the face of good stuff, like steak, blowjobs and Beyonce. What’s your guilty conformist pleasure?

 

Oh, truth be known, I like many “IN” things; I love Katy Perry, and I love fashionable clothes. I am not against everything that is popular – I mean, I have an iPhone! Should I chuck it off of a bridge because millions have one? NO!

I just think that it is sad that as a society we will pay more attention to unimportant bullshit and ignore anything that might cause a ripple because we are comfortable.

It’s the standard of asking a mother who lives in the slums to teach her children that drugs are bad when her son is paying all the bills from the crack he sold, ya know?

Do not cause a ripple when you are comfortable is bullshit! We are lazy creatures, and I hate that because I too am guilty of it

 

6) The Pitchfork Diaries has a lot of strong women, which you’ve already discussed in a Twitter Q&A before, but how do you feel about the love-hate relationship that the horror genre has with women? It’s often Virgin or Whore much of the time isn’t it?

 

Well think about this for a second…What do men desire? A virgin or a whore!

Those are what most males view women as – a sex toy, and trust me I am guilty of looking at a woman and thinking “Oh my God, I would destroy that pussy!”

Unfortunately, women hate me so, I never get the chance!

Women are tougher than men in all areas, and I appreciate that. The reason that horror movies use them is because males are visually stimulated, end of story.

I guarantee you, though, that 99% of women would kick Freddy Krueger, Micheal Myers and Leatherface’s asses whilst drinking a latte and multitasking on her iPhone!

 

7) What is the absolute worst thing that someone could take away from your work in terms of a message or idea? On the same lines, what is the worst thing you’ve had said about your work?

 

The worst thing anyone could take away from my writing is that I share or endorse any of the behavior of the people in my books. I do not support rape, necrophilia, murder, or especially racism.

I find murder less offensive than being a racist; many people will think I am a racist because of stories like ‘Juden’ or ‘In the Mouth of Butterflies’, but it simply is not true.

What is the worst thing I’ve had said about my work? That’s something to ask the Goat Gals – I cry to them all the time!

 

8) Your work has a great filmic quality, you can really see what your reading thanks to all your detailing. Choose a cast and crew for just one of your short stories… You can include yourself if you don’t think you could trust anyone else.

 

It’s funny that you say that, because everyone seems to think that and I would love to see my work done as a movie or even a short film, no doubt!

Let’s pick one that I actually had someone in mind when I wrote it. In ‘The Lullaby of Rape’ I pictured Donald Sutherland as the main protagonist in the story, and Natalie Portman as the girl. Oh, and I would definitely be in the film; most likely the sex Scene!

Thank you for the compliment I try really hard to make the reader feel as if they were there in the midst of the scene; I want to engulf you in fear, so I try not to just say knife, stab = blood, ya know?

And my editors deserve much of the credit because they are true wordsmiths!

 

9) And finally, the inevitable question – What have we got to look forward to next from you?

 

Dec 25th 2011- the first book in ‘The Family of Dog series’ comes out and we are all absolutely salivating about releasing this to the world! I promise you that The Harvest is like nothing you have ever read and takes you down roads you would not even think of going down. This book goes to places never before explored, and I am 100% serious, may very well get me killed. If you think Pitchfork was controversial you have no idea!

 

Hey thanks a ton for the support and the chance to speak to your readers!

J