Kung Fury explored at Nordisk Panorama

Film producer Linus Andersson was meant to be in Malmö last week for a workshop at Nordisk Panorama looking at the viral sensation that was his latest film. Sadly, problems on film sets meant that he was unable to make it on time and had to speak via Skype from the airport. A combination of bad internet and low sound meant that it felt a decidedly low tech affair which might have felt awkward if he were here to talk about anything else except Kung Fury. The slightly ramshackle nature of the workshop seemed to reflect the homegrown nature of the Swedish short film that morphed from a small trailer into a worldwide sensation. And when the technical problems were sorted out, the workshop gave a brief and tantalising look at how crowd funding and the internet is changing the relationship between short film funders and filmmakers.

Kung Fury took the short film world by surprise in 2015. Its loving homage to 80s action films was superbly realised – and extremely funny to boot – and was undoubtedly going to be a cult sensation online. But it transcended expectations and found a home not only amongst a crowd of genre enthusiasts but also to a wider audience of short film fans. Premiering at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes the film would go on to play at numerous festivals across the world including scoring a nomination for the European Film Academy Short Film Award. Not only was it atypical for a movie of Kung Fury’s nature to be afforded such a nomination, that fact that it did so at Vila Do Conde – the Portuguese festival more known for its focus on experimental fare – was also a surprise. With more than 26 million viewers online, it’s fair to say that Kung Fury provided many surprises for the industry.

Theo Tsappos, the Festival Manager for Short Films at the Swedish Film Institute, managed to be at Nordisk Panorama in person and he elaborated on how the film was originally meant to be released

“The original plan was for the film to release online and we at the Swedish Film Institute shook our heads at first, wanting to get the film on the festival circuit,” he explained. “The producers told us ‘it isn’t a festival film.’ But then they got into Directors Fortnight at Cannes and they had originally planned to release the film online before the Cannes screening. They were finally convinced to wait for 5 days until after the Cannes screening to put it up online.”

Tsappos’ comments reveal two things. One is that it is still crucial to be careful about where you show your film if you want it to play on the festival circuit. Many festivals don’t care if your film has screened online or not (amongst them being Sundance). But many – especially in the A List category – are very adamant on premieres: which includes online. If they find your film is online, there is a good chance that your film won’t be allowed to screen.

The other thing is the changing nature of funding and the tension that can sometimes arise as new models emerge. Kung Fury was partly supported by Moving Pictures at the Swedish Film Institute. It also had 17’713 backers on Kickstarter. As with the initial discussions about when the film should be premiered online, it shows that trying to keep all the stakeholders happy can sometimes be a struggle.

But for producer Andersson a festival strategy was never much on the cards, at least at the beginning

“The original idea was to make a You Tube channel with lots of little videos,” he explained via Skype “It took a long amount of time but it just grew and grew from a little trailer.”

And how about making the film go viral?

“We didn’t have a plan,” Andersson reveals. “David [Sandberg, the film’s director] had a marketing idea that was to put a link on Reddit. The first few hours didn’t go well. But someone shared the link and it went viral.”

But ‘going viral’ is not the be all and end all. Andersson states:

“You can only go so far being viral. You have to have good ideas and a good script.”

And he also believes that Kung Fury represents a change in the entire way in which shorts films are distributed and funded

“I hope that more people realise that we’re living in another world now.”

And if that’s a world that also includes Dinosaur Cops, then I am sure that many people will be happy.

You can see Kung Fury online HERE

27 September 2016, by Laurence Boyce