How awesome to find this article about writing a TV series that has become the biggest international success the nation of Iceland has ever had.
Seriously. We love this article. We love the fact that writers everywhere are indeed soul brothers and sisters…and we’re kind of curious about other facets of Icelandic life too now. (But not that curious because we’re writers and that means anything real probably will never make it into our Top Ten.)
by York Underwood & Art Bicnick
apped (Ófærð) is Iceland’s most internationally successful television show and RVK Studio’s first major television project, with Everest being the studio’s first major film. Trapped is a crime series about a body found in a fjörd and a town snowed in by weather. It’s harsh, bleak and utterly Icelandic, but it has pulled in audiences around the world, trapping them in its beautiful isolation. This strange murder-mystery, in a small town in a small country, takes place where the weather is as much a character as a setting.
RVK Studios is any writer’s dream office: clean, well-lit, with a great coffee machine and both a foosball and a full-sized snooker table with the balls frozen mid-game. No doubt waiting for when the players need a quick mental break from all the creative stuff they get up to in here. I’m waiting and snooping around while Sigurjón Kjartansson, the head writer of Trapped, and Jón Gnarr, the comedian, writer and former mayor of Reykjavík, finish their meeting.
Both Sigurjón and Jón worked together as a comedy duo on the radio and on a hit sketch show on television, Fóstbræður. Now Sigurjón is the Head Of Development at RVK Studios, a company formed with Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest, Contraband, The Deep) and Magnús V. Sigurdsson.
Sigurjón is finally done his meeting and he takes me to see his writing office, which still has parts of the Trapped set–including the brown couch constantly slept on by one of the main characters. After a few minutes looking at the couch and pieces of wood that used to be the set, Sigurjón leads me to a nearby coffee shop, Café Haiti, for the interview.
Where did the idea for Trapped come from?
Baltasar came up with this great idea: a body is found in a snowy town in a fjord and the town gets locked in. Nobody can get in and nobody can get out. Which is, someone has said, an Agatha Christie idea. The mansion whodunit without the mansion. We saw this as a very strong concept.
Baltasar, Magnús V. Sigurdsson and I started RVK Studios. We knew a crime show was something that we should do. I come from television. Baltasar had made successful Icelandic films and was finishing Contraband at the time. We wanted to do a ten-part series and we wanted to do it outside of Reykjavík. So far, the crime shows I had done were all set in Reykjavík. They were like any other city-based crime show. If we wanted to do something that got attention we would have to play with Iceland’s nature thing.
Iceland’s nature is not flowers and pretty birds. It’s bad weather and snow….