This past Friday, Magnet Releasing unleashed The Quake in theaters and on various digital platforms. A direct sequel to the 2015 Norwegian disaster film The Wave, The Quake was directed by John Andreas Andersen and reunites us with Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner) and his family three years after the horrific events of the first film, but now, they’re contending with a cataclysmic earthquake that’s set to rock the city of Oslo.

Daily Dead recently caught up with Andersen to discuss taking on such an ambitious project for his feature film directorial debut. He also talked about how his career in cinematography served him well while at the helm of The Quake, his experiences collaborating with Joner, and why he insisted they use practical sets for some of the movie’s impressive action-oriented set pieces.

Good to speak with you today, John, and congrats on The Quake. How much of your background, in terms of your cinematography work, helped you with making this film? Because I would imagine, in terms of the placement of cameras and how to make the cameras move with the action and things like that, it probably served you very well here.

John Andreas Andersen: Yeah, I think a lot of my cinematography background helped me in the sense that it freed my energy from those things. I've been working in cinematography for 20 years, so that part I know very well, which meant that I could spend a lot of my energy on the actors and on the script and everything else. It was very important for me to have a lot of time to do work with the actors. But because this is a very technical film as well, having that technical background, in terms of cinematography, helped me a lot with The Quake.

Had you previously watched The Wave before coming aboard The Quake, and what was the biggest challenge for you coming into this sequel dealing with the enormity of the events in this story? Because it’s so ambitious.

John Andreas Andersen: When the producers came to me with the project, I thought it sounded completely silly, because when you’re talking about an earthquake in Norway and in Oslo, that was something I had never heard about. But then when I started seeing all the research, including the earthquake in Oslo in 1904, it was all news to me that this was actually something based in reality. So, that part was very interesting to get into. And because we based the film on something that was grounded in reality, I wanted to make sure the film felt like it was also based in reality. We did most of the action in camera, and there are a lot of visual effects in this, but everything happening to the actors was actually, physically happening, in camera.

Unfortunately, we had a small budget on the film compared to your average movie, and we spent our budget on the physical effects so that we could feel the physicality of all the scenes. So when the actors are sliding down the floor, they are actually sliding down the floor. To a certain extent, it is a dangerous situation, but shooting those scenes were most of the challenge for me.

You mentioned working with the actors, and obviously Kristoffer, his character went through so much in the first film, and we see him in a completely different place in his life in this sequel. What's interesting is that he almost reminds me, in a way, of John McClane from the Die Hard movies, where he's the guy who realizes immediately everything that's going on, but nobody's listening to him. Can you talk about working with him in terms of where Kristian is at, at this point? And tapping into, not only the action-centric aspects of his character, but there's some emotional stuff that he goes through in this film as well.

John Andreas Andersen: First of all, Kristoffer, I think he is a fantastic guy, and I know he's a great actor. I've worked with him in many films as a cinematographer, so I was just really happy to do my debut film with him in the lead, and I'll always be very thankful for having him there. We talked about some of the lines and these big moments, but the most important thing to both of us was that we wanted people to be able to see the film without having seen The Wave first. We wanted them to be able to recognize, without that first film, that these are people who are going through extreme experiences, and they are carrying a lot, and we take that seriously.

But to meet Kristoffer’s character again, this time he's down in the bottom of a very dark valley, with his certain survival skills, and he’s dealing with PTSD, too. I think that was a very interesting entry point for the character in this film and something that Kristoffer was very interested in working with as an actor. And we also wanted to spend some time getting to know these characters again, so that people will hopefully care about them when the action really starts.

In terms of the practical sets, because that isn’t a decision that many studios would make here in the States, how beneficial do you think it was to shoot the action that way for what you were trying to achieve visually? It would have been so much easier to just go the green screen route, so I applaud you for embracing practical environments.

John Andreas Andersen: I thought it was very important. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on CGI, and I think a lot of directors doing big budget films will agree with me that its always very important to have a lot of practical special effects. For the elevator scene, we bought an old elevator, and we built an old elevator shaft for it. It was a real elevator shaft, which I think is important. It's also so much easier for the actors to make the acting believable if they can feel the danger rise around them. They were actually hanging on a cable in an elevator shaft. Of course, it's not as high as it looks, but it’s still better than having them hanging and dangling in front of a green screen.

When you make a disaster movie like this, where you can go in either a more grounded direction, or just revel in the spectacle like in films we often see coming out here in the States, do you feel it’s more effective from a storytelling perspective to stay based in reality?

John Andreas Andersen: Yes, I totally agree. I think when you look at the movies that come out there, where they are made for economic reasons, that’s a different kind of movie altogether. With Scandinavian films, we have the ability to tell new types of stories, because we don’t have to make movies for the same reasons. We have different tools and techniques here, too, so of course the films from Hollywood will be very different than what we make over here. But what’s really cool is that now, because of how the industry has changed, this is a movie that can do well over here, but then it makes its way to America to connect with audiences there, which wasn’t always the case.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.