Interview with film-maker, Martin Sommerdag
By Penelope Brooke Hamilton


Penelope: Where do you reside?
Martin: I live in Denmark, Copenhagen but I was born in Odense – the city of the legendary storyteller HC Andersen but Copenhagen is the city of danish film industry – so I decided to move to Copenhagen a couple of years ago, the best decision I have ever made.

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Penelope: What is your background leading up to Tunguska Diaries?
Martin: I have always loved movies and at a very young age, I began to experiment with short films using my father’s old super-8 film camera and in the 90’s I bought my first VHS camcorder – I still have a very strong predilection towards these two extinct formats, as are reflected in both Tunguska Diaries and Ebola Warning. However, not being able to get into The Danish Film School, I chose an international film school instead – but I have studied at The Short & Documentary Film School in Denmark.

Penelope: You said you loved movies, which one has made the greatest impact on you?
Martin: There is absolutely no doubt about, that the US documentary/reality TV series COPS from 1989 has made a very big impact on the way I direct and write films today. COPS is one of the longest-running television programs in the world and I grew up watching COPS and I am still watching it today.

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Penelope: Can you mention your previous short films and what style or stories you focus on, and why?
Martin: I have made a lot of short films but those that are worth mentioning is my critically acclaimed documentary Dead Man Singing. Then there is Ebola Warning which was screened at various film festivals around the world including Los Angeles Film Festival and New York Film Festival. I like to mix found footage with conspiracy theories, because it’s important to show the world that there’s more to everything than meets the eye. I also enjoy directing stories without dialogues – because the beauty of silent footage is that it’s universal and can be understood everywhere and that makes distribution a lot easier – when you make everything on your own, you also have to think about what you can manage and afford. I also love all my experimental art films, especially Subworld St. and Your Mind. I really enjoy making my surreal art films, because there aren’t boundaries in art on the contrary, my brain is limitless when it comes to my art films – it’s so relaxing.




Penelope: What lead to the original idea behind Tunguska Diaries, and why did it appeal to you so much?
Martin: I am a big fan of the X-files and I remember an episode in season 4, where Fox Mulder travels to Russia to investigate the source of the black oil contamination and that episode was inspired by the mystery of the Tunguska event. I have always wanted to make a film based around the actual Tunguska event in 1908 and the suddenly last summer the idea of Tunguska Diaries hit me – Jerry Bruckheimer is right, you never know when lightning strikes. I did a lot of research on the subject and then I came up with the idea about these two field agents from the KGB science department, who are on a research ekspedition near the Tunguska river in the late sixties. Talking about being at the wrong place at the wrong time, just like Lt. John McClane.

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Penelope: What were the most exciting and challenging parts of this project?
Martin: There was no script or screenplay for Tunguska Diaries only the idea about these two KGB agents and then the story came to life in the editing room – just the way I like to work! It was my first film with green screens and CGI animations, that was a big challenge but also with many new possibilities.

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Penelope: Where do you hope/see the film going?
Martin: Tunguska Diaries has been screened at several film festivals already and now this top-secret KGB footage has been leaked on the internet 😉 Tunguska Diaries is a need short story and I know it has the potential to be developed into a full length feature film.

Penelope: Do you have any future projects, ideas on the horizons?
Martin: YES! As we speak I am working on my newest film project called A Beautiful View – a true love story but only if you can imagine it. The log line would be; true love never dies! Tunguska Diaries was the end of an era – I will never do found footage stories again … BUT … NEVER SAY NEVER.


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