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An Interview with Nicolai Kornum, Creator of The Isolation Horrors

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2020

Films directed by Nicolai Kornum on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie The Isolation Horrors - in a few words, what is it about?


The plot of the film is about a man who during self-isolation finds a bloody face-mask in the street and makes video calls to his friends to see if they are okay. We are then taken to the different places of isolation where the friends are experiencing their own horrors. The five filmmakers have made their own stories, and filmed and acted in their own films, which comes together in this little short film anthology.


So what was the idea to collect all these horror filmmakers for The Isolation Horrors, and what guidelines were they given to be featured in your anthology?


The idea was to be creative with friends during this time of self-isolation. I wanted to set out some basic parameters so we all would create under the same conditions: Shoot at your place of isolation, shoot on your phone, make a horror film. Besides that I wanted to keep it open for the filmmakers to enjoy the experience and be unlimited in their creativity, play with their own ideas and with what was available to them. Whether the style was black and white, cinematic, video, comical, tragic etc. It needed to be a work of passion for them.


Why horror, and is that a genre at all dear to you, and why (not)?


The five filmmakers all have made horror before and are huge fans of the genre, so it was obvious that we would go that way, also taking in to consideration the current situation of the world as inspiration.


Do talk about the filmmakers chosen for The Isolation Horrors for a bit, and why exactly them? And how do you know them even?


I have worked with all of them before. On several occasions with several of them involved in the same project. We have worked on each other’s projects or have met working together on other people's projects. These filmmakers are all more than just directors or writers or actors. They can do it ALL, including write and shoot the film, which was a huge reason for choosing them to participate.


What can you tell us about your own segment, and what was the inspiration behind it?


My segment The Bloody Face Mask is weaving in and out through the film connecting the individual short films. I wanted my film to be slightly comical, fantastic and excessive (colourful, smoke machines in the streets, flashing lights etc.), and to keep a very video-like quality, in order to contrast some of the other short films so they would stand out individually with their own style and moods. Also to give a breathing room for the audience, before another short film starts.


Do talk about your segment's approach to horror?


The Bloody Face Mask is mainly inspired by 50s sci-fi horrors and grindhouse. A cartoonish approach to look and feel, adding the sci-fi monster element, using special props and puppetry and low tech effects. Those films from the 50s can today appear unintentionally comedic, and I wanted to bring that comedy element in for the purpose of helping the dynamic of the overall film.


What kind of a challenge is it to make a movie while sticking to lockdown rules, and what are the advantages (if any)?


It is an advantage that you suddenly have time to do this kind of thing. Experiment with filmmaking, effects, editing etc. The biggest difficulty was to accept the parameter of shooting on a phone (mainly because of the lack of use of different lenses), but in the end that challenge became an inspiration.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I find it very difficult to direct myself. Maybe that is also why my segment is more comedic. In this case the acting was about getting the plot delivered and then the real directing was the aesthetics, the visuals, the photography, the editing, the effects. I love doing jump cuts with this kind of handheld phone footage, and love spending time on making props and effects. We ended up having 4 different especially made face masks for the film for the different needs.


You also play the lead in your segment - so what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of the real you can we find in the film you?


It is mostly the real me. I am not a professional actor, and I tend to overact when I am in front of the camera, so, in this case, where all the filmmakers acts on camera as a fictional version of themselves, I tried to act as little as possible, and just deliver what was needed for the plot. A lot of the storytelling happens in the editing or in interactions with the other filmmakers. Which probably makes for a better film. I think ultimately I am better behind the camera.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot was very efficient. It was done in one evening with only two people on set (one of the rules were that we were not allowed to add people to the set that we were not isolating with). But we worked very efficiently with spotlights on the roof of our house illuminating the street and a smoke machine on the pavement etc. Most of the time I am operating switches just out of frame while acting. For example in the last scene when I am walking down an alley looking scared, I actually have a 1000w dimmer in my hand just out of frame creating the flashes of light behind me.


The $64-question of course, where can The Isolation Horrors be seen?


On YouTube! From Friday 24th April 2020 9pm (UK time) -


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Isolation Horrors yet?


At the time of writing the film has not been released to the public, but it has been reviewed by a few blogs that has given the film kind words.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


At the moment I am finishing the editing of a fashion film that was shot last year in Los Angeles, which will premiere at an international festival in San Diego, California this summer. And I have just finished writing a sexy and colourful LGBT thriller short film that I hope to film next. I am also booked as DOP and editor on a new M. W. Daniels short film in the fall [M.W. Daniels interview - click here].


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


It was probably the TV show Twin Peaks when it originally aired in the early 1990s that got me hooked on filmmaking. I studied at European Film College in Denmark, and moved on to be a 1st assistant director in the film industry. I spent 8 years working as 1st AD on TV-drama, feature films and commercials for, among others, the Lego brand. I also was floor manager on national TV for 24 live programmes, and studied lighting design and show-calling at London College of Music and Dramatic Art.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Isolation Horrors?


During the past 6 years I have had a growing success with making fashion films, which has won more than 30 international film festival awards. This a genre that is new, which is very stimulating to explore and develop and discuss between filmmakers at festivals. Latest we were hired to make 2 separate fashion films in Los Angeles last year, which was a satisfying achievement. This has led me to doing campaigns for commercial brands, which of course is where the money is, which ultimately gives you the freedom to experiment with your own ideas, like The Isolation Horrors.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I am a very technically efficient director. This probably comes from my experience with scheduling and logistics as a 1st AD. I believe that knowing all aspects of practical filmmaking and the efficiency and challenges of a filmset, in addition to having studied narrative structure and development in storytelling, is a great background of knowledge for a film director. The artistic vision and stylistic expression is then a matter of taste.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror with his approach to trashing up the film and giving it texture was one of the inspirations of The Bloody Face Mask. Lars von Trier does some of the same in his own way and has a very efficient way of using selective production value. I love classic film noir, which also emerged from a need to produce with limited resources (hence strong key light, shadows etc.). Brian de Palma has taught me how valuable it is as a filmmaker to tell your story with limited dialogue and instead focus on cinematic tools. Other great low-budget filmmakers that has been a huge inspiration for me are John Waters with his politically incorrect approach and shock value, and William Castle with his marketing gimmicks.


Your favourite movies?


If I were to name a few: Gus Van Sant's Elephant with its simplicity, David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive for its gorgeous mystery, John Water’s Female Trouble for the colourful and hilarious docu-drama, William Castle’s Homicidal for the suspense and twists, Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark for the emotional filmmaking, Brian de Palma’s Dressed to Kill for the cinematic scope, anything with Charles Busch, and several classic film noirs including Sunset Boulevard, Laura, The Big Combo, Detour and In a Lonely Place.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Film is such a complex media that you can almost always find something that is good or interesting. Maybe the actor is good but the script is bad etc. I don’t remember ever thinking a film was bad on all accounts. The only film I ever fell asleep to in the cinema was Sense & Sensibility.


Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Don’t forget to check out the amazing filmmakers involved with The Isolation Horrors! The horror icon Emma Dark [Emma Dark interview - click here], the impeccable avantgarde filmmaker M. W. Daniels [M.W. Daniels interview - click here], the amazing filmmaking and acting talent of Richard Markworth, and the productive multi-talent John Whitaker aka musician 1i2c.


Thanks for the inteview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD