Below the Line: How did you get involved with I Kill Giants?
Anders Walter: I was in Denmark trying to work on a British feature which ultimately fell through. I was then sent several screenplays from my agents in the United States, however none of them really connected with me. Soon After, producer Chris Columbus, who shares the same agent as I do, sent me Joe Kelly’s screenplay for I Kill Giants. Columbus shared it with me after he and his production company saw my last film, Helium, which they loved. The screenplay of I Kill Giants drew me in because of the strength of the original characters and story. I then had to convince Columbus that I had to direct this film.
BtL: Would you say that your last project, Helium, and the Oscar that followed, helped in becoming involved with this project?
AW: Absolutely, the fact that Helium won the Oscar for Best Live Action made it not be just any other Danish short film, but helped in terms of making it accessible for important people to see it, including Chris Columbus. This allowed for me to take on I Kill Giants and fight that I was right for the job.
BtL: How did you come across the original comic book series and meet writers Ken Niimura and Joe Kelly?
AW: I first met the film’s producers and soon after, Joe Kelly, who played a big part during the whole process. He was a tremendous personal help to me and we immediately clicked. Along with having written the script, Joe stayed on as consultant. I would often talk to him throughout shooting, and in the editing room to ask for notes. It was a positive working relationship as he was very supportive and we reached agreements on a vast majority of the creative decisions. I Kill Giants is adapted from a comic book series of the same name, written by Joe and co-author Ken Niimura, who had more of a spectator role during the filming. He visited the set for a couple weeks during shooting. I also wanted to pay homage to the great artwork that Ken had in the comic books.
BtL: This is your first feature length film. How did the pre-production and filming process differ from your previous projects?
AW: When we started principal photography of the film, I didn’t feel much of a difference compared to my previous shorts. By the end of the day, you communicate on set with actors and open up a dialogue with the heads of the various departments, which wasn’t much different from how I worked on my previous projects. One difference on this film was that I had many more crew members surrounding me, which had initially made me nervous on the first day of shooting.
BtL: What were some of your biggest challenges during the production process?
AW: Running out of time was a key issue. The planning was extremely tight and we were always a little behind, as is usual when working on films. We were constantly told to speed up production. However, we were blessed with a great cast, including Imogen Poots, Zoe Saldana and especially the lead actress Madison Wolfe. It was hard not to root for her. Madison was such a pro and on command and delivered intense feelings and emotions. Columbus and I worked in partnership when making casting decisions.
BtL: Did you have same craftspeople from your previous work?
AW: I was lucky to have the same department heads from my previous projects, including Helium. My DP, Rasmus Heise, producer Kim Magnussen, and editor Lars Wissing, among others, all re-joined me on this project. This brought a calmness with having familiar faces. Additionally, by having very few Danish people on set, it was great having them to work with on this project, as we frequently spoke Danish which made it very personal. A lot of working with a majority-new crew had to do with communicating and convincing them. I wanted to stay open and hire creative people with ideas I may not have. My job is to mitigate ideas and confine them in my vision for the film. My way of communicating is being open, curious and letting go.