Don't Panic Films

  1. Winner of Best Music Video at the 2015 Hlustendaverðlaunin (Listener's Choice Awards) in Reykjavík, Iceland. 2.6.15

    From filmmakers Bowen Staines and Gunnar B. Guðbjörnsson (Sólstafir, ‘Fjara’; The Vintage Caravan, ‘Expand Your Mind’; Skálmöld, ‘Gleipnir’; Ólafur Arnalds, ‘Living Room Songs’ and “Where’s The Snow?!”), comes a brand new music video for Iceland’s masters of psychedelic metal, Sólstafir. The video is for the song, ‘Lágnætti’, from Sólstafir’s critically acclaimed new album, ÓTTA.


    The conceptualization for the video began in May of 2014 and started production in late July. The entire nine and a half-minute video was shot over the course of two twenty-hour days in Iceland’s West Fjörds, with a production crew of less than five people.

    Although the core of ‘Lágnætti’ was shot on the Canon 60D and 550D, a wide variety of cameras were used, including: the Canon 5D, three GoPro Hero3s, a Krasnogorsk K-3 16mm, and an Apple iPhone 5. The film was then flown across the Atlantic to Toronto, Ontario, where I edited it over the next two months.

    Care was taken to preserve the feeling of the song and lyrics, as well as the atmosphere of the location we chose to shoot: a fjord, Kollafjörður, about 20 minutes from Hólmavík. With a history of several rather “post-production heavy” music videos under our belt up to this point, I thought it very important to make this new video free of any special effects or post-production hoodwinks – relying instead on the location to supply its own special effects.

    Indeed, the fjord supplied her own special effects... in the form of these beautiful, white seeds that constantly fluttered through our set, two perfect, sunny days for the duration of the production, and last but not least, the Arctic Tern.

    A large portion of the video was shot bordering the largest Arctic Tern nesting ground in the area – and anyone who’s spent time around these birds knows how aggressive, comically bad-tempered, and noisy they can be. The words “production halting” also come to mind, as nearly every take started and ended with one angry tern after another swooping into frame, hell-bent on snatching eyebrows off someone’s face. They were also comically un-fond of our camera drone, constantly dive-bombing the propellers, and forcing us to pull out of countless shots early for fear of seeing half a dozen injured animals, as well as the investment of our dear friend Arnar at go crashing into the ocean.

    In the end, these birds played a much larger part in the video than either Gussi or I had intended, and definitely for the good. In my opinion, the birds are an unintentional, but vividly endearing character – an unplanned element that truly brings Kollafjörður to life.

    Another somewhat unintentional character in ‘Lágnætti’, is this late-60’s GAZ model - the grumpy (yet sensitive), bright red DIY project, fondly known only as “The Russian”. Cobbled together over the years with various parts from all over the globe, this unique vehicle played a large role in the video, as well as lightening the mood on set whenever things started getting stressful. “The Russian” topped out at about 20kmh, and you had to manually hand-pump the gas from a metal can in the trunk, up a fuel line running over the top of the back seat. Never a dull character, “The Russian” exists to remind us all: “HAMINGJAN FELST EKKI Í NÝJUM BÍL”, or “HAPPINESS IS NOT A NEW CAR”.

    -Bowen Staines, Director


    It is with great pride and excitement that we present to you the new video for our song 'Lágnætti'. The video was directed by the same directing team of Bowen Staines and Gunnar B. "Gussi" Guðbjörnsson, who brought you the amazing ‘Fjara’ video 3 years ago, so the standard was already set sky high. But it is our belief that we have outdone ourselves, with the help of the good people from Hólmavík and Kollafjörður in the West Fjords of Iceland.

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  2. Winner of Best Music Video at the X-ið Music Awards, 2.17.12

    From directors Bowen Staines ( & Gunnar B. Guðbjörnsson (, comes a new project for Iceland’s masters of psychedelic metal, Sólstafir. The video is for the song, “Fjara”, off Sólstafir’s chart-topping double album, 'Svartir Sandar'.

    The conceptualization for the video began back in July of 2011, and started production in late-September. The story follows a young woman who bears a difficult and woeful burden, obsessively dragging behind her a large, timber coffin. Her intentions are uncertain, as she encounters Four Spirits along the way - the Earth, the Desert, the Enlightened, and the Devoted - like lighthouses guiding her path. The ultimate purpose of her journey is slowly revealed through her encounters with these Spirits.

    The lead role was gladly given to Rebekka Kolbeinsdóttir, an exceptionally talented actress and versatile musician. Rebekka’s enthusiasm and commitment to the project was immediately evident, and there is no doubt that “Fjara” would be a completely different video had she not been involved. Wearing a thin wedding dress in the middle of November, barefooted, pulling a coffin nearly twice one’s weight through the Icelandic wilderness is not an easy task.

    The original intent was to have the video shot and completed before “Svartir Sandar” was released on October 14th, but due to increasing complexity of the latter scenes, the considerable time needed for postproduction, and some of the most awful, unpleasant weather so far that month, “Fjara” was not completed until the beginning of January. Thankfully, we had the privilege of working with the extremely enthusiastic members of Sólstafir, who always stayed several steps ahead to insure production went smoothly. Kolla Jónsdóttir generously lent her time and expertise in designing the costumes and doing make-up, and Jakob Veigar Sigurðsson assisted in finding great locations and making sure the team had places to stay.

    Shooting wrapped at the end of November, on a particularly memorable and unusual Sunday morning. With only the last shot remaining, the crew arrived at the Skógafoss waterfall at sunrise. Over the course of the next hour, the 70kg timber coffin was carried to the top of the waterfall, affixed with floatation and a small ContourHD waterproof camera, and carefully lowered into the rushing water. With only a bungee cord and rope tied around his waist, Sólstafir drummer Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, waded into the water and pulled the coffin to the middle of the stream - mere meters from the edge of the falls. He was quoted at the time, saying “I’m not really nervous about going over, I’m just ready to finally get rid of this thing!”

    After nearly another hour of preparation and careful adjustments mid-stream, the coffin finally coasted to the edge of Skógafoss, and plummeted spectacularly downwards to its explosive end. To everyone’s surprise, the camera we had attached to the coffin was successfully recovered, and is the last shot to appear in the video.

    The directors and band wish to thank everyone who was involved in the production of “Fjara”, and hope you will enjoy it!

    Produced by Guðmundur Óli Pálmason & SÓLSTAFIR
    Directed by Bowen Staines & Gunnar B. Guðbjörnsson
    Filmed by Bowen Staines & Gunnar B. Guðbjörnsson
    Edited by Bowen Staines

    Starring Rebekka Kolbeinsdóttir


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  3. Winner of the 2014 Hlustendaverðlaunin (Listener's Choice Awards) in Reykjavík, Iceland. 3.22.14

    From filmmaker Bowen Staines (Sólstafir, ‘Fjara’, The Vintage Caravan, ‘Expand Your Mind’), comes a brand new project for Iceland’s chart-topping Norse metal giants, Skálmöld. The video is for the song, ‘Gleipnir’, off Skálmöld’s acclaimed sophomore album, BÖRN LOKA.

    The video was produced & filmed in Iceland between November 2012 and March 2013, and condenses the entire concept of BÖRN LOKA. ‘Gleipnir’ tells the story of the peasant Hilmar Baldursson & his sister, Brynhildur, his compact with the great Óðinn and deceiver Loki, and his encounters with Loki’s terrible children. The story results in grief and betrayal, causing Hilmar to sacrifice the soul of his beloved little sister.

    The lead role of Hilmar Baldursson was happily given to local sound designer, and close friend of the band, Garðar Þór Eiðsson. However, due in part to a lack of communication on my end, Garðar showed up on the first day of filming thinking he was an extra – not the star of a multi-month production. He was quoted at the time, saying, “So... we’re all done after today, right?!” Thankfully, Garðar went above and beyond in every possible way, arriving to set each day anxious to don his authentic Viking wardrobe and make the role of Hilmar Baldursson all his own.

    I would very much like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work of Fönn Harðardóttir, the wonderful little eight-year old who plays Hilmar’s younger sister, Brynhildur Baldursdóttir. Rarely have I witnissed the level of patience and enthusiasm that Fönn showed us each day - I would not hesitate in saying that her role was, by far, the most difficult and physically taxing. Here’s to Fönn, the brave and unwearied eight-year old, who repeatedly stood in the middle of driving snowstorms, wearing a thin dress and no shoes, covered head to toe in bloody pig intestines – all without complaining once. You are one brave kid.

    The most interesting day of shooting came with the arrival of Jóhann Helgi Hlöðversson, and his accomplice, Byko the raven. 5 o’clock in the morning rolls around, and we get a knock on our door: it’s Jóhann and Byko, who drove all the way from their home on the south coast of Iceland at the crack of dawn to be a part of our shoot that day. We are introduced, and Byko begins flapping around the apartment, pecking at bare feet, and eventually coming to rest atop a nearby computer, where he proceeds to rip several keys off the keyboard, AND log himself into Facebook. Honestly.

    There are so many people I need to thank, who generously lent us their time and hard work to make this video possible. To our amazing stylist, Margrét Björnsdóttir – without your hard work and incredible enthusiasm, this video NEVER would’ve happened! To our producer, Kristinn Sævar Thorarensen – thank you for approaching me about this project, and for always trusting me so completely. To Loki and his children – Sigurður Ingi Bjarnason, Edda Tegeder, Björn Jónsson, and Halli Hansen - thank you for contributing your time, love, and unique personalities to your respective characters. To the fine gentlemen in Skálmöld – it’s been a great experience working with you on this, thank you for trusting me to tell your story – let’s do a Part 2 soon! And lastly, to all the fans and anyone who contributed to this video in any way, no matter how small or large – TAKK FYRIR OKKUR!!

    -Bowen Staines, Director

    PRODUCTION DETAILS (Full cast & crew listing at end of video)

    Presented by DON'T PANIC FILMS (
    Directed, Shot, & Edited by BOWEN STAINES
    Starring Garðar Þór Eiðsson & Fönn Harðardóttir

    Artwork by BOWEN STAINES

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  4. From filmmaker Bowen Staines (Sólstafir, ‘Fjara’, Skálmöld, ‘Gleipnir’), comes a brand new music video for Iceland’s young, chart-topping classic rockers, The Vintage Caravan. The video is for their song ‘Expand Your Mind’, off The Vintage Caravan’s latest album, VOYAGE.

    The Vintage Caravan is a young band hailing from the Greater Reykjavik area, where they are known for their energetic stage performances, and have been extremely active for the past few years. Since 2011, the band has released two LPs, with the latter being released by one of the largest record labels in Iceland. As of September 2013, The Vintage Caravan has been signed to Nuclear Blast, the biggest hard rock label in Europe.

    ‘Expand Your Mind’ was produced & filmed in Reykjavík, Iceland between September and December of 2012, and completed in Canada in May of 2013. The concept for the video stems from several real-life situations which bandmembers have experienced while playing live; these stories are integrated into the video as part of an explosively psychedelic acid trip, reminiscent of films like the 1981 animated classic, ‘Heavy Metal’.

    To keep the ‘vintage’ feeling and spirit intact, every single animation or visual effect in ‘Expand Your Mind’ is animated by hand, frame-by-frame – every single particle trail or motion path – everything, was created without any sort of motion preset or shortcut, as it would have been done at the dawn of computer-based animation. As one might expect, this resulted in an extraordinarily long editing process, taking nearly seven months to complete.

    Bowen Staines and The Vintage Caravan would like to thank each and every person that has been involved in this unbelievably long and memorable journey, from our first day of shooting in September, to the last day of editing the following May – your hard work and time are VERY MUCH appreciated. We hope you have as much fun watching ‘Expand Your Mind’, as we had making it! TAKK FYRIR OKKUR!!

    PRODUCTION DETAILS (Full cast & crew listing at the end of the video)

    Presented by DON’T PANIC FILMS (
    Produced by E.T.G. PROMOTION
    Directed, Shot, & Edited by BOWEN STAINES
    Artwork by BOWEN STAINES

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  5. Ready for a new way to experience Iceland? Labrador Iceland is proud to introduce an exciting new kind of photography workshop featuring Bowen Staines, National Geographic contributor, cinematographer, and owner of Don't Panic Films.

    With Bowen's photo & video workshops, discover the roads less traveled. Learn creative, original techniques, while avoiding the crowd and capturing some of Iceland's best-kept secrets:

    "Each day, participants will be given a list of “objectives” or “missions” for each location, specially tailored to their personal levels of experience. This will allow individuals to branch off and exercise their creativity on their own, while still actively engaging in group activities. I will also be giving an in-depth and comprehensive discussion about the history of each location, its significance to Icelandic culture, as well as folklore and myths surrounding the specific area; it is my hope that each individual leaves my seminar with not only a bigger understanding of photography and cinematography, but of Iceland and Icelandic culture and music, as a whole." -Bowen Staines

    Come with your ideas. Leave with your story.
    Looking for a new way to experience Iceland?
    We can show you.
    -Labrador Iceland

    To learn more, visit
    To book a tour with Bowen Staines, visit

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Don't Panic Films

Matthew Hancock

Don't Panic Films an independent film company composed of a small number of exceptionally talented filmmakers and photographers. Originally based in the US, DON'T PANIC will soon be opening a branch in Reykjavik, Iceland - the purpose of which is the…

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Don't Panic Films an independent film company composed of a small number of exceptionally talented filmmakers and photographers. Originally based in the US, DON'T PANIC will soon be opening a branch in Reykjavik, Iceland - the purpose of which is the promotion and overall representation of Icelandic bands to countries all over the world, with a focus on music videos, podcasts, and documentaries. So, why Iceland? Isn't it just cold weather, expensive beer, and lots of sheep? Well, yes and no. There is SO much raw, underground musical talent in Iceland that, unfortunately, flies far under the radar in countries beyond their rainy shores. DPF seeks to change that: we would like nothing more than to see Icelandic artists be given the recognition they deserve in countries all over the world.

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