Rúnar Rúnarsson is shooting his hotly anticipated feature debut in Iceland, with veteran producers Zik Zak on board.

Synopsis: An emotionally handicapped man has to face new issues with his family as he moves into a new phase of his life after retirement.

Writer/Director: Rúnar Rúnarsson

Cinematographer: Sophia Olsson

Producers: Thor S. Sigurjónsson, Skúli Malmquist of Zik Zak Filmworks; with Fine & Mellow Thomas Gemmeltoft and Egil Dennerline

Cast: Theodór Júlíusson, Margret Helga Johannsdottir, Thorsteinn Bachmann, Agust Orn B. Wigum, Elma LIsa Gunnarsdottir, Audur Drauma Bachmann, Johann Sigurdarson, Harald G. Haralds, Sigurdur Skulason, Hilmar Jonsson, Katla Margret Thorgeirsdottir, Benedikt Erlingsson

Budget: $1.4m

Financing: Icelandic Film Centre, Danish Film Institute/New Danish Screen, and the Nordic Film & TV Fond

Language: Icelandic

Countries of Production: Iceland

Status: Shooting through Nov 1

Delivery: spring 2011

With his three previous shorts either Oscar nominated (The Last Farm) or selected for Cannes (Two Birds, Anna), there are a lot of people eager to see the debut feature from Rúnar Rúnarsson. “He’s such a strong storyteller, both visually and emotionally,” said Thor S. Sigurjónsson, who produces Runarsson’s debut feature Volcano with his Zik Zak partner Skúli Malmquist.

Volcano is about an old man who retires from his job as a janitor, and starts to face the reality that he is estranged in his own family.

The story is about the man realising that he has to “make his own destiny…I’m interested in the crossroads in our lives,” Rúnarsson told Screen during a late September visit to the set in suburban Reykjavik. “I’m not interested in people in their 30s and their love triangles.”

“I know a type [of person] like this. I have a father and mother. All of us have had issues with our parents,” he said. “Most of us know a thick-headed old father figure, someone who is closed off, he’s a universal part of the story.” But he added: “it’s a love story as well.”

The project is shooting now in Reykjavik, where the crew has already faced some hardships. “We’ve had one shipwreck, a couple of car crashes, and one almost-hurricane,” the director explained on his 10th day of shooting. But he was upbeat and calm despite facing those challenges; and maintaining the schedule to wrap the shoot by Nov 1.

The 33-year-old Icelandic director studied at the National Film School of Denmark, where he started working with editor Jacob Schulsinger and cinematographer Sophia Olsson, who reunite on Volcano. Rúnarsson spent six years working on the script for Volcano.

He praised producers Thor S. Sigurjónsson and Skúli Malmquist of Zik Zak (The Good Heart, Back Soon, The Boss of It All) of “supporting the preparation time that some people would think was unnecessary.”

Rúnarsson said his working style involves “a lot of prep. The more prepared I am, the better I can be to improvise on the day,” he noted.

The cast is mostly comprised of theatre veterans. But there’s also a key role for an 8-year-old boy. With someone that age, he says, “you can’t complicate things too much, so I was guiding him to be himself. When kids are a little older you can have more of a dialogue.”

Next up: Runarsson is writing a father-son story. For producers Zik Zak, they have just released Brim, and are readying youth film Hullaballoo for a holiday season release. They have some larger projects in development both in Iceland and the US.