THE SHAMAN is a mind-bending Sci-Fi short film directed and produced by Austrian filmmaker Marco Kalantari. The film had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and had been screened at numerous film festivals around the globe, including London, LA, Toronto, Atlanta and San Diego. It was featured by Short Of The Week and made it into the prestigious Vimeo Staff Picks selection. io9.com and Geektyrant called it one of the best shorts of 2015.
Watch THE SHAMAN on Vimeo:
The Making of:
The film was praised for its narrative quality, strong performances and visual power. While a lot had been written about it online and in various publications, there are 5 secrets of this complex production that are yet to be revealed.
In 2005 Marco Kalantari was just about to complete his first feature film, the Austrian Sci-Fi adventure AINOA. Marco had just graduated from the Austrian film academy and was about to release the biggest independent production ever produced in Austria. Being convinced that AINOA would be an international success that would open all possible doors, he sat down and wrote his next script – the “biggest story he could imagine”. The world of THE SHAMAN was hence born on his kitchen table. He had to soon realize that it was impossible for him at that point to realize the complex script, so he put it aside and kept working on other stuff. In 2013 Marco did a trip to LA to meet with producers and evaluate his chances. Emmy-nominated producer Josh Weinstock recommended him to create a new reference and shoot a short film. Marco browsed through the scripts he had developed during the last years and came across THE SHAMAN. He took the first 15 pages and turned it into this short film. The advantage was that over the years he had continuously been working on the script and the world of the film, so he had a massive pool of thoughts and ideas to start from.
Before proceeding with a normal casting, Marco tried to hook a celebrity actor for the role of Joshua, The Shaman. He was writing to numerous high-profile agencies in London and the States, but with – as to be expected – little success. Due to his persistence he even managed to get in contact with the wife of one of his favorite actors – Michael Biehn. But since the shooting date was closing in he had to make a decision soon. Casting director Mark Summers came on board, and brilliant actor Danny Shayler was chosen for the part of Joshua. Today Marco is convinced that there could have been no better actor for this role than Danny Shayler. Not even the marvellous Michael Biehn.
3) Susanne Wuest
Acclaimed Austrian actress Susanne Wuest who hit international headlines in 2015 with her performance in the Austrian horror movie “Good Night Mommy” had agreed to take on the role of the Soul Of The Colossus. Marco and Susanne had been friends for a while but this would mark their first collaboration. Susanne was at the same time in preparation work for another movie, and could only come to the THE SHAMAN set for one day. A driver was driving across Austria to pick her up from the other set and drive her to THE SHAMAN’s location. After a quick rehearsal in the evening with lead actor Danny Shayler everyone went to sleep. The next day the team shot the entire nether world confrontation sequence – all within 12 hours. Right after wrap Susanne was jumping back into the car and returned to the other project’s set, where she continued shooting the following day.
4) The mysterious “H”
In an enormous effort Henri Jenewein’s weapons design team was producing the entire bulk of Sci-Fi weapons, armor and helmets out of empty printer ink cartridges, 1-Euro toy guns and other waste and scrap. Since the work load was huge and the weapons design team was constantly understaffed, Henri’s mum at some point joined the crew and helped screw those awesome Sci-Fi blasters together. As a little bonus Henri used sink strainers which he glued on the weapons to enhance their high-tech designs. He chose those particular sink strainers because the grid’s pattern resembled an H – H for Henri. Well… honor to whom honor is due.
5) Who is the fourth man?
For the shoot in Iceland the small team only brought lead actor Danny Shayler to Reykjavik. The other three characters appearing in those scenes – Lene and the shieldfire masters – would be performed by local Icelandic stand-ins. One of the stand-ins became unavailable just a few hours before the shoot, and no replacement could be found in time, so Dop Thomas Kiennast’s girlfriend Lisa put on the clothes of Lene and can be seen as him in most of the shots. In some of the scenes Marco put Lene’s clothes on himself. Through clever editing those Iceland shots would later be combined with the shots taken with the real actors in Austria, to perfectly merge the two locations into one cinematic reality.
Now let’s enjoy THE SHAMAN!