Thulsa Doom is an award-winning indie film production company pushing the boundaries of cinema with high-quality, low-budget films with big stories to tell. The brainchild of Cyrus Mirzashafa, Hector N. Helsing and Micheal Davies, Thulsa Doom have a company ethos to represent true indie cinema, working with exciting new and established talent. I caught up (virtually ) up with Hector N. Helsing to find out more about himself, and of course more about Thulsa Doom
Thulsa Doom was created during the pandemic, was the pandemic a creative period for you?
The pandemic really stalled the momentum and trajectory of our careers. I was just starting to get roles as an actor, while Cyrus and Mike were building Thulsa up and finding production jobs. All that work ground to a halt. Unfortunately, a large part of this industry is momentum and we all lost it.
This was seen all over, with talented people stuck at home. However, there is always opportunity in a crisis. Sure, the first couple of weeks were filled with self-pity and loathing but after that was a discovery. We finally had what was lacking for so long. Time.
I probably read and wrote the most scripts of my life during that period. During those long days in lockdown, I advanced my own skills exponentially. I even practiced self-tapes, fine tuning my acting technique. If I could compare it to a movie scene, it would be the training montage of the Rocky films!
The first time bars opened up, I met up with Cyrus and we bonded over some old fashioned cocktails and our ideas on how to improve the industry. The rest is history. I joined Thulsa and we gave a platform for all the frustrated creatives we knew to express their own talents through a collection of 19 short films. We called this “The Pandemic Diaries” and some of the shorts are currently on the film festival circuit!
In a relatively short period of time, Thulsa Doom has completed over 40 projects, can you tell me a bit more about the inspiration behind some of them? From your showreel I can see your content is extremely varied…
We keep having to pinch ourselves. The inspiration for it all is quite simple. Creative greed. One lifetime isn’t nearly enough for all the films we want to create, it’s simply not enough time. We all go to bed, dreaming about the films we may never get the chance to create, so, why not give a platform for other creatives to craft top content? That’s exactly where the Pandemic Diaries shorts idea was born. Give a platform to the to creatives and magic will blossom. The rest of our content is down to passionate creatives bringing us ideas. We are always open to new collaborations and love to be approached.
As a team, where do your personal tastes intersect?
Well, as I said earlier, Cyrus and I bonded over old fashioned cocktails so… Our tastes intersect there! Jokes aside, we have quite distinct personalities and tastes, but we all live and breathe film. We wake up and the first thing we usually do is discuss something we have watched or want to create! Our days revolve around the dream of film.
Do you feel constraints like that working within a budget & on short films with time constraints actually makes you more creative?
Constraints most definitely do breed creation! With our first fiction feature film, Bilby, we had to almost reverse engineer our script. We had a beautiful idea but a limited budget. So, each scene was written with a “dream scenario” intended but then broken down to what was practical. One example would be two separate scenes. One takes place in a coffee shop and the other in a nightclub. We spoke to our wonderfully talented art department, collaborated on needs and budgets and in the end, found a location in which both scenes were possible. You’d never guess that the two scenes were shot in the same location! That’s where the magic of film comes from though. Creative problem solving and collaboration.
What have been the biggest practical challenges and the creative triumphs for you as a company so far?
Well, we managed to self-finance & raise enough money to make over 40 shorts and 2 features, without going bankrupt, in the middle of a pandemic and the biggest financial shift of wealth in history. There were intense moments of almost not surviving as a business… but we managed to pull a few rabbits out of a hat and get over the blip. Those difficult moments definitely made Thulsa a stronger and more astute to the business side of making films.
Do you have any ‘props or keepsakes from your films that you have kept hold of?
We haven’t really kept any props from our films, however, on our first feature film Bilby, we had a goldfish written in the script. We asked everyone if they wanted a fish and one of the crew (Tirza who has directed one of our shorts) did. She really bonded with the little fish, it was like she was the fish whisperer! It was probably the best actor on the whole film. (Apologies to Clive Russel)
What is the coolest movie geek thing you own?
My house is full of video game memorabilia, much to my wife’s annoyance. I have everything from batman figurines, to dragons from Skyrim and even swords from Game of Thrones! My favourite items in my collection, however, is a jacket from the set of Inglorious Basterds and authentic pieces of the 35mm cinema film from the Dark Knight.
What’s next for Thulsa Doom?
The world! We have a long list of features planned but we will never forget our origins. Short films made us. The crew and directors we have helped up are our backbone. We will continue to strive to discover the filmmakers of tomorrow!