The Beautiful Challenge To Shooting Films In Iceland
Photography by David Zu Elfe
If you hadn’t already noticed, we’ve been slowly exploring Iceland’s automotive culture. Recently we sent our filmmaker David Zu Elfe over there to see what he could find. Let’s just say our profile film of the 928 enthusiast with a V8 fetish was just the tip of the iceberg. We were overwhelmed by the reception of the Petrolicious community in Iceland. The stars of our upcoming films, their friends, associates and families all surrounded us with support and kindness on our filming journey there. We caught up recently with David Zu Elfe on his incredible journey through the culture of Iceland’s incredibly welcoming automotive community.
Ted Gushue: What was your reaction when we started strategizing on filming the cars of Petrolicious fans in Iceland?
David Zu Elfe : My first thought was, “This is too good to be true, because I have never traveled a lot in my life. My parents split very early and I didn’t get to go on as many holidays as other people did, so I didn’t travel. This was the first time that my job really enabled me to go somewhere else. It all started earlier this year when Kika [our Creative Director] asked me to do the first UK production for you guys. Before I was even on the production, Iceland came in conversation, so within 4 weeks I went from, “I do not really travel at all,” to, “I go to the UK and then I go to Iceland.”
Then this whole thing evolved. My girl joined me on the trip, which basically made this a production holiday, which for me that is like the Holy Grail of what could have happened at that point.
TG: When you got to Iceland, had you already done a lot of background research?
DZE: Beforehand we had a list of possible candidates and things we would want to do, but there were only a few. We didn’t intend to meet as many as we did, and some of those we scheduled didn’t work out. Three of them decided they did not have time and so we found four more people who were not scheduled, and then we did them.
TG: As this was your first time to Iceland, was there someone who helped make all of these shoots possible? Sort of like a fixer?
DZE: That’s the part where we get to Sigfus because he was the one who, no question, I couldn’t have done it without. I couldn’t have pulled it off in any way. It wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for him. I was there for nearly 3 weeks. He put me in touch with the Iceland-Air captain who gave me a ride there and back in the cockpit of his plane. He then gave me his son’s room to stay during production. He cooked. He organized the candidates. He drove me around. He made the camera car driver. He literally got me a racing box as an open-top camera car in less than 3 hours.
Stuff like that. He showed me around. It wasn’t like we’d finish production and then we’d go home and just sleep. It was like, “Hey, you should try this, or we should go have ice cream, or we should eat burgers right there.”
My girl and I went on that trip with the Land Rover for a week and when I came back, he invited me to go over again for homemade burgers which were insane. He was basically the one person who held it all together all the time.
TG: How did you meet Sigfus?
DZE: Sigfus was part of an Alpine Porsche drive in 2015 which resulted in a book which is called Porsche Drive. Sigfus was part of the trip because the photographer knew him beforehand. Sigfus was the contact who then reached out to Kika because he’s a car enthusiast. They got to know each other because of that which then led to him saying that there is another Alpine road trip which brought me into the mix, which was the point where I met Sigfus. I stuck with him for my entire time in Iceland. He was in Germany for a couple of days so I had met him before I went to Iceland, but only briefly.
TG: He sounds like a superhero.
DZE: He is the genuinely nicest person on planet Earth, and I’m convinced of that. I will tell everybody. He made possible what I thought was absolutely not possible. He even got me permission to fly a drone in the city airport in Reykjavik. But we couldn’t fly it because it wouldn’t lift off because of a GPS issue. I would have had permission to do that because of him and the owner of the 928 who made all sorts of calls and pulled strings for me.
TG: Is it just part of Icelandic culture to be that hospitable?
DZE: Yes. He is a special kind of guy, but they were all ludicrously nice. One guy gave us his Land Rover for free for a week. They organized planes for us. They did flybys on some of the shoots for dramatic effect. Everyone just kept making every thing possible. It’s something I never experienced anywhere else.
TG: Is there anyone else you’d want to thank in the article?
DZE: Every single person I met in Iceland that made our films that are upcoming there possible. Sigfus, Petur, Bjartur, Torfi, the Land Rover guys, all the people we met along the way and of course Lotte, my lovely girl who drove the Land Rover like it was her own. Iceland, thank you.