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Yo ho yo ho, a viking tale for him
Movie maker embraces his Viking City roots.
POULSBO — Danish filmmaker Michael Mouyal has big ideas, and in a way, one of them began right here in Poulsbo. While here, the North Kitsap High grad perused the book selection of downtown shop The Nordic Maid, where he discovered tomes on Scandinavian history that planted a seed in his mind — a seed that’s grown into a full-fledged motion picture.
“A Viking Saga — Son of Thor” is a movie directed, produced and co-written by Mouyal, who now lives in Florida. A screening was held of the film last weekend at the Sons of Norway lodge. Winner of five awards and two best picture nominations from the Independent Film Festival circuit, “A Viking Saga” is what Mouyal describes as an artistic, educational family film based on a true story.
The film follows Helgi, a 10-year-old boy who narrowly escapes the destruction of his village, but years later meets those responsible for his family’s death.
“I want to show the world that the Vikings have contributed to some pretty great things that not many people know,” Mouyal explained.
Mouyal himself came to the Viking City from Copenhagen in 1984, and spent two years in the halls of North Kitsap High before graduating and heading home in 1986. He said at age 17 Poulsbo’s Viking-esque feel gave him a sense of familiarity.
“I just fell in love with Poulsbo and the people, and I felt right at home, so I ended up moving back to America a few years later,” said Mouyal, now 42.
He worked as a pilot for 20 years, stationed in the Caribbean and throughout the states, all the while staying in contact with his host family in Poulsbo, including host mother Norma Bailey.
“She became like a mother to me,” he said. “My kids treat her as their grandma, so it’s a real nice relationship that we have. … Poulsbo has always been there with the family and I always keep it in mind.”
Grounded by a medical condition three years ago, Mouyal decided to turn what he began as a hobby into a professional career. For 10 years, he’d dabbled in writing screenplays and making short films.
“I said, ‘well, I don’t have any other education that being a pilot, why don’t I just jump in with both feet?’ And I did,” he said. “I wrote a script and I pitched it to several actors in Denmark and they read the script and they said they wanted to come on board.”
Willing to mortgage his house and use his savings, Mouyal garned enough financing for a two-week shoot, and churned out an 82-minute film.
It’s a film that will be distributed nationwide Dec. 9, meaning there will be a copy of “A Viking Saga” on the shelves of most major video stores, he said.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” he said, adding usually less than a third of the films made in a year receive distribution. “A Viking Saga” already had a limited release in art house theaters in Denmark.
Mouyal said “A Viking Saga” isn’t a “Hollywood-type movie,” but more of a historical docudrama.
“When you don’t have a lot of money you have to be creative. That’s what this movie is. You have to think outside the box a little bit,” he said. “Maybe I’ve created a new genre.”
Shot primarily in Denmark, with a mostly Danish and Swedish cast and crew, “A Viking Saga” also provided a debut acting vehicle for Mouyal’s son, Daniel, who was 10 at the time of filming.
“I never told anyone that this was going to be a masterpiece and I don’t think you can do a masterpiece in two weeks, but I think it’s an acceptable movie,” said Mouyal, who eventually submitted it to film festivals, simply to listen and learn from judges’ critiques.
“I never expected to win anything,” he said. “Instead of feedback they awarded me with all these awards. It's pretty incredible.”
Learn more about “A Viking Saga” at www.avikingsaga.com.
Mouyal also recently penned a novel, “JETLAG,” which will be available at The Nordic Maid. And he’s already ruminating on his next film, which he said he envisions as more mainstream, a “Tarantino-type movie.”
To learn more about Mouyal, visit www.michaelmouyal.com.
And on whether or not he’ll permanently return to the Viking City, Mouyal says there’s a chance.
“One day I might move back to Poulsbo,” he said. “The right time just hasn’t come yet.”