Kenneth Karlstadt of ‘The Hunger’ on his restless new series ‘Kids In Crime’

Filmmaker Kenneth Karlstadt has conjured up a chaotic coming-of-age story, “Kids In Crime,” for Norway’s TV2. The writer-director grew the project out of his well-received short, “The Hunger,” into eight short episodes.

It is a format that hopes to appeal to younger audiences between the ages of 16 and 22, who are surrounded by many alternative forms of entertainment through social media, gaming, and streamers. It’s unclear how well this strategy worked, but the show turned out to be one of the most successful of 2022 for TV2, according to Brede Havland, producer of Einar Film Drama. He has also been nominated for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize 2023.

A powerful new offering, “Kids In Crime” features Karlstadt’s nose for rebellious but strict narratives and a cast of teenage characters hoping to live with the volume turned up. Set in 2001, the series follows the three teenagers Tommy, Pål and Monica, played by newcomers Kristian Repshus, Lea Myren and Martin Øvrevik. They jump to the end of life by running up a huge debt to local drug lord Freddy Fingers, played with unpredictable aplomb by Norwegian star Jakob Oftebro (“Kon Tiki,” “1864,” “The Bridge,” “Black Crab”).

Folks, prior to the project, the director did not initially see the character of Freddy in Jakob Oftebro, but was open to being talked into counting it. Variety, “Jakob’s talent is on a level with the best actors alive today. Dedicated to the bone. If you trust him and let him work freely, you will be mesmerized by the result.

The high-stakes situation leads the three friends to double down on hedonism, as they try to find a way out. He combines bold techno beats and a grainy period-specific aesthetic, with charismatic performances across the board.

Program director and writer Kenneth Karstladt spoke with Variety:

The series captures the time period in a way that I’m sure many people who were of a similar age at the time will recognise. Is the target audience people from that era or is it intended to be broader than that?

The series is made for shitty kids, by shitty kids. It doesn’t matter what year you were born, really. But to be technical, our main target audience is young people between the ages of 16 and 22. Those who are about to move out of their childhood home and live an independent life. Our secondary target is those who were young in 2001. But since my mom’s sewing club loves the show, it seems like we’ve come pretty far.

The episodes are high energy and punchy, did you always intend for the episodes to be less than 30 minutes?

It’s what the channel wanted, and we adjusted to that from the beginning. I found it easier, dramatically, to break it into eight acts. We could be specific about the topic of the episode, instead of talking about page numbers. To be honest, it’s a 180 minute feature film divided into eight acts. I wanted things to happen fast too. Like the entire series, he was restless and had ADHD.

kenneth karlstadt
Courtesy of Einar Film

What were your main challenges writing and going from a short to a series?

The biggest challenge was that more characters had to have a dramatic line. But I made it easier for us by deciding early on that all the characters would end up in the same room at the end. So that the climax was the same for all the characters. Second, it was time. We wrote the scripts in four months. Two scripts a month! But it worked. I’m not much of a meditator so it was fun typing fast.

Filmmakers like Shane Meadows, with “This Is England,” manage to balance characters making bad decisions, while allowing the audience to still care deeply for them. Your characters also make bad decisions, but they have many of the same needs as all of us to connect, to have fun, to care about something. What were your main references?

Not particularly Meadows, but yeah, the filmmakers like it. I watched a lot of Spike Lee movies like “Clockers”, “Do The Right Thing” etc. “La Haine”, “Trainspotting”, ·The Wire”, films by Lucas Moodysson. Jonas Åkerlund’s “Spun” had a big impact in episode 5. They are obvious, but to break with the obvious, I also watched some Japanese movies. Like Destruction Babies, which is unbelievably good. There you have a character that just walks around hitting random people. And I realized that as long as the characters are entertaining, you’ll love watching them. What will they do next? We are too concerned with sympathy. But after about 90 minutes, it’s interesting to put his behavior in context. Both for the public and for yourself, as a writer.

A lot of energy comes from the soundtrack that weaves in and out of the scenes. Did you have certain clues in mind when writing the series?

Yes, all the clues are in the script. Most of the scenes are written for those specific tracks. First comes the music, then the idea of ​​the scene. “KIC” wouldn’t exist without those tracks. Music is the reason I make movies, I wouldn’t work without music. We had a lot of challenges licensing the tracks, due to the low budget and because it’s hard to track down the old ’90s ravers. Either the label is dead or the artist is dead. And somehow all of them are Italian. Anyway, we had to replace some of the tracks in the script because of this, and it was a pain in the ass for me. It broke my heart every time we had to replace, because the scene existed because of that particular track. But, to my great surprise, most of the time the result was even better! Like the second track 666 – Supadupa Fly, it was supposed to be another track, but Supadupa is much more iconic.

Aesthetically you chose to mix the camera technology of the time, why did you want to do this?

I wanted the cartoony wide lens to contrast with the realistic look of VHS home video. It’s comedy versus reality. It’s the cool world of crime, as the characters see it, in contrast to how dark it really is. The whole dogma of “KIC” is one word: ambivalence. We wanted the audience to laugh while they had pain in their guts. It’s funny, but it’s also serious. One would not work without the other. Also, every time we filmed a scene on VHS, the whole energy on set changed. It was electricity in the air. Everyone was looking at the monitor saying WTF!!, feeling that we are watching something illegal. So we ended up using VHS a lot more than planned.

kids in crime
Courtesy of Einar Film

!function(f, b, e, v, n, t, s) {
if (f.fbq) return;
n = f.fbq = function() {
n.callMethod ?
n.callMethod.apply(n, arguments) : n.queue.push(arguments);
if (!f._fbq) f._fbq = n;
n.push = n;
n.loaded = !0;
n.version = ‘2.0’;
n.queue = [];
t = b.createElement(e);
t.async = !0;
t.src = v;
s = b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t, s);
}(window, document, ‘script’,
fbq(‘init’, ‘586935388485447’);
fbq(‘init’, ‘315552255725686’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *