with RIKKE ENNIS TED HOPE PIV BERNTH MIKKEL NØRGAARD
featuring SARAH SOFIE BOUSSNINA GUSTAV GIESE MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD DANICA CURCIC
and CECILIA HELLNER MANON RASMUSSEN ANNE LINDBERG SIMONE GRAU RONEY
4th Edition August 2014
Copenhagen International Fashion Fair (CIFF) is the largest fashion fair in Northern Europe The Spring/Summer 2015 season will be unveiled 3 – 6 August at the Bella Center, Copenhagen. Follow us @CIFF_DK
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K R I S T I A N W. A N D E R S E N
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The Revolution is Televised By Kristian W. Andersen
IT TU R N S O UT Gil Scott-Heron was wrong. The
African-American poet and singer earned respect and admiration for his inspiring works and words over the years. But still, he was eventually wrong. The revolution IS televised. It is brought to us in parts with commercial interruptions, and we keep asking for more. TV shows irreversibly change our world. Like it or not, they shape new habits in cultural consumption. They open new fields for the entertainment industry to explore, in addition to those formerly investigated by literature, cinema and theatre. If you’re not immersed in showcase programmes like the fantasy tale Game of Thrones or political dramas such as House of Cards and Borgen, television shows might be little more than a fashion trend for you. But the truth is, there’s a revolution going on before our eyes. It takes us right back to the end of the 19th century, when serialised novels by Honoré de Balzac in France or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Cover Sarah Sofie Boussnina, photographed by Cameron Alexander, wears dress by Julie Brandt, leather jacket by Twist and Tango, necklace by Black Dakini and earrings by Lucy Folk Left The Zentropa flag photographed by Nikolaj Møller
in England helped sell newspapers every week. And people kept coming and asking for more. Storytelling is the backbone of fiction; this is what TV series teach us. You can take the broad view, but the perspective remains the same. Over the last 5,000 years everything has been said, written, and played. Nowadays no one can reasonably nurse the ambition of bringing the audience a theme unsullied by tales, plays, books, movies or comic books. This might lead us to be pessimistic about human creativity. It should not. This is all the more reason for opening ourselves up to original productions. Television serials are not a promised land, even if some see them that way. They are just tools for crafting culture, producing social links, and triggering casual or elaborate discourse. For decades, the entertainment industry lived in the thrall of Hollywood – with the notable exception of Great Britain, which enjoyed, as it still does, its own solid tradition. Dozens of shows were produced every year on the assembly lines of the Californian studios to flood the western market. Those days are over. Competition has emerged
from unexpected locations such as Denmark, Australia and Israel. Casual viewers have turned into insightful buffs. They are hard to please,and they don’t grant their approval easily. Why should they? They know better when it comes to quality shows. Their time has become precious since they have experienced the all-consuming practice of binge watching. When they want to make their heads spin, they rely on high-end material. In this changing landscape, the Danes now have their seat at the table. With shows like The Killing (Forbrydelsen), Broen (The Bridge) and Borgen, they are striding into what was once the preserve of Hollywood. Lars von Trier and Nicolas Winding Refn paved the way with acclaimed successes like Kingdom (Riget, 1994) and Pusher (1996). They were trailblazers. More is to come with family drama The Legacy (Arvingerne) and the eagerly anticipated historical saga 1864, the most expensive television show in Danish history. This eight-part story of the second Schleswig War against Germany, expected this autumn, had a budget of 30 million dollars, matching the most costly American productions
Editorial Director and CIFF Fashion & Design Director Kristian W. Andersen | Creative Director Pierre Tzenkoff | Design Director Mark Jubber | Editor Martyn Back Distribution and Production Assistant at Zentropa Lasse Andersen | Special Project Manager Cecilia Hellner | Colour Management Alain Touminet | Printing Rosendahls
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MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
THE CLOWN (TBC) UNDER SANDET (2015) SOMMEREN ’92 (2015) BALLON (2015) LILLEBROR (WORKING TITLE) (2015) ARVINGERNE SEASON 1-2 « THE LEGACY » (2014-2015) KVINDEN I BURET « THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES » (2013) EN KONGELIG AFFÆRE « A ROYAL AFFAIR » (2012)
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MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
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PREVIOUS MIKKEL WEARS BOMBER JACKET BAARTMANS AND SIEGEL SCARF J. LINDEBERG
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MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
MIKKEL WEARS BOMBER JACKET AND JEANS J.LINDEBERG VINTAGE BOOTS MANON RASMUSSEN COSTUME COLLECTION
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MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
MIKKEL WEARS SWEATSHIRT BIBI CHEMNITZ JEANS J.LINDEBERG VINTAGE BOOTS MANON RASMUSSEN COSTUME COLLECTION
PHOTOGRAPHER SARAH PIANTADOSI STYLIST YASMINE ESLAMI PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT SARAH LLOYD STYLIST'S ASSISTANT DENISE WILKE JUHL MAKE-UP JENNY COOMBS HAIR HALLEY BRISKER DIGITAL TECH OLIVER GRENAA AGENT LINDBERG MANAGEMENT
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RIKKE WEARS T-SHIRT GANNI LEATHER JACKET TWIST AND TANGO VINTAGE JEANS
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THE SALVATION (2014) NYMPHOMANIAC (2013) KVINDEN I BURET « THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES » (2013) JAGTEN « THE HUNT » (2012) DEN SKALDEDE FRISØR « LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED » (2012) EN KONGELIG AFFÆRE « A ROYAL AFFAIR » (2012) MELANCHOLIA (2011) HÆVNEN « IN A BETTER WORLD » (2010) MAMMUT « MAMMOTH » (2009) ANTICHRIST (2009)
Rikke Ennis The Nordic film industry strides ahead by focusing on its unique DNA By Pierre Serisier Photography Sarah Piantadosi Stylist Yasmine Eslami
TH E N O R D I C F I LM industry has gone from strength
to strength over the last twenty years, and its influence has pushed back many frontiers, not only in Europe but also on the international scene. Scandinavian cinema is now acclaimed worldwide thanks to renowned directors such as Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Bier. One key to the industry’s current success stems from a form of loyalty to the “Dogme” approach formulated in 1995, which puts the story at the core of the creative process and pushes aside useless special effects. Storytelling is what matters most. Rikke Ennis is the CEO of TrustNordisk, the powerhouse born from a merger between international sales departments at Nordisk Film* and Lars Von Trier’s company Zentropa**.
Rikke, could you tell us how everything started more than fifteen years ago?
When we started out in 1997, we were like an outcast sales company for the Nordic countries. Nordisk Film International had this old department, but they were primarily selling children’s movies and TV productions. Film sales rocketed after “Dogme” became so successful, because we were able to sell every one of them. TrustNordisk became the prime mover in terms of international sales for the Nordic countries.
Looking at the development over the last 15 years from when Dogme became a brand, in what way is it different selling films today?
When Dogme came, everything was new and fresh and honestly nobody knew how to put a price on a film. It was a question of feeling the competition and trusting that you would land a decent minimum guarantee (in other words, a decent advance) for your films. When Mifune and The Idiots were sold in Berlin in the late 90s Denmark was a tiny country in the film landscape. Today we are one of the most respected film nations, and if you look at the sales compared to the relatively few people who live here, we are exporting in very high figures.
TrustNordisk sells Zentropa’s titles, which are pretty much the work of important and influential directors such as Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Bier. But thanks to our relationship with Nordisk Film, we also sell what comes out of the biggest production companies in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
With new players like Netflix and Amazon, how is TrustNordisk adapting to new markets?
Netflix is a game changer although we don’t quite know what it will mean to the movie industry. It has something like 400,000 users in Denmark paying 79DKK, which means 31.6 million DKK is being channelled straight to Netflix with little or no direct benefit to filmmakers. I’d like to see that money coming back into Danish film and TV production! We have a problem in Denmark and in the rest of Europe. More films are getting made, but no additional financing is available. We simply don’t have enough chairs around the table for our new guests. However I think it will be interesting to see if we can start producing original content with Netflix – or Amazon, Google, HBO and so on, so that we can make a Scandinavian “House of Cards”…but still this is on the drawing board. We see a lot of interest from American broadcasters and cable networks eager to find a model with Nordic production companies because they know we have the talent and the storytelling skills. The question is whether it should be in English or Danish. My gut feeling is that we should do what we’re best at—and that is storytelling in our own language.
Can you launch a movie directly on these platforms?
TrustNordisk is dealing directly with Netflix and iTunes outside the Nordic countries, but it’s not often worthwhile to use them as your first platform for launching a movie. Cinema is still a very important tool when promoting a film. However I would love to try out Day and Date releases more on the big films to see if we can find a new business model and a way to
fill the gap in turnover from the DVD window, which is when the DVD can be launched in Denmark—four months after theatrical release. In France they have the same rules and this makes it difficult to make the so-called Day and Date release. It’s been very successful in the US and the UK with premium VoD releases. It shows that the audience is ready to pay a higher price if the content is available easily, immediately and on whatever platform they use. Itunes is a whole new way of working with your catalogue titles: suddenly a ten-year-old film can come alive again because you do a retrospective with the director, or you choose a theme or topic that can sell. That can be anything from Valentines Day to Liberation Day, and it works.
Digital devices give us new ways of watching movies: we’ve moved from the movie screen to a phone or an iPad. How do you manage that situation? How does it influence production?
We don’t really change the feature film format because we believe that especially young audiences don’t mind watching feature films on smartphones. For me it’s mind-blowing that this is actually happening now, but I guess we have to get use to it. We have some cross-media projects in development where we’re trying to use the synergy between the feature length version and the shorter versions, making the shorter films part of the campaign for the feature film. The best publicity you can get is when the audience— the so-called “end-users”— distribute your content to friends. From being a B2B business it has become essential to us what people say about upcoming projects, because this will affect the distributors buying from us. A good example is a teaser poster for a Norwegian thriller launched on the Internet. Nobody knew how it got there… and we ended up selling the film to Germany long before we even had a script in English. The threat is of course that bad news travels fast, so you also need a backup plan if something comes out that’s not so complimentary about your film! It works both ways. »
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» Everything is about profile. It’s about branding. You need to find what your core gene is, what your core business is. «
In an interview you recently gave to Variety magazine, you advocated ‘a strong Nordic profile’. What did you mean by that?
Everything is about profile. It’s about branding. You need to find what your core gene is, what your core business is. To keep this company DNA alive, it’s important to have a strong Nordic profile because if you start to be too much of a “euro-pudding”, if you start to pick what everyone sells, suddenly you lose the strong identity you’ve been working so hard to develop for so many years. When we review new projects outside the “family”, we always look to see if there’s something in the film or story we can hook up to our Nordic profile. Let’s say for example we’re looking at a German film with a big Danish actor in the main role or a Danish co-producer involved. We need to feel that it fits into our lineup. People will see this as natural: they’re not going to wonder why TrustNordisk have such a movie. Of course we wouldn’t pass up a film with Brad Pitt. There’s always an exception to the rule, but our primary goal is to have a Nordic profile.
But the key remains the script, doesn’t it?
It always starts with the script. If you have a good strong script with the right story and the right characters, then you can start making your package—and you can start looking for the right director, of course. As long as you have all that, you’ll be working on firm foundations. Often the director will of course be involved with the story from the beginning, so that he/she can put his own personal signature on the project. Often you see constellations of scriptwriters and directors working together for years and the stories and characters only get better as they get used to each other and can read each other’s minds. We know we’ll never be able to compete with American blockbusters because of their budgets and special effects. So what we know here in the Nordic countries, and especially in Denmark, is that we must rely on storytelling and depth of characterisation. In our movies you have this general feeling of something very special – a kind of melancholy. And that’s what’s so attractive to international audiences. We do things differently, we don’t compromise, and we don’t try to conform. We have our own DNA.
You’re getting into westerns with the upcoming movie The Salvation, directed by Kristian Levring and the Dogme writer Anders Thomas Jensen.
Kristian Levring had longed to shoot a western since he was a child. He was wondering how to make a western and make it commercial. You wake up on a Monday morning and you tell yourself, “you know what, I’m going to make a western”. That’s how it started in Kristian Levring’s mind.
He was one of the “Dogme” brothers, and we knew he had director’s skills. When you combine the cast he had (Mads Mikkelsen in the leading role) and his skills with the amazing script writer Ander Thomas Jensen, you have a very strong start. Having the film at the 67th Cannes Festival during “Les Séances de Minuit” (The Midnight Sessions) completes the circle. But it’s true that a western was unexpected. We’ve sold the film worldwide, including to North America, during the Cannes Festival. We haven’t had so much success with a film for many years.
When you are a successful director in Denmark, is it worth taking the risk of going abroad – for example trying to make it in Hollywood?
If you are a successful director in Denmark and you are contacted by fifty top US agents who want to be part of your success, I think it’s natural you want to go abroad, to go to Hollywood, to see what’s cooking there. Everything starts in Hollywood, right? But what many directors feel when they get to Hollywood is that although they get great paychecks and it’s fun to work with big casts, you don’t have the same ‘auteur’ drive you have over here. You can work in Hollywood for a number of years, and then you feel you need to go back home and make the stories you grew up with. This happened to some of the very best directors such as Lone Sherfig, Niels Arden, Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Bier. They worked in Hollywood, then they came back to make their own little stories and enjoy more “freedom of speech”. But I’ve rarely seen a great director disappear to Hollywood and never come back. I think that’s a good sign. We should emphasise what’s going over here, otherwise we’ll always think the grass is greener on the other side.
Do you have a Zentropa school to track new talent?
We have a training programme at Zentropa that lasts 3 years. It pretty much means that you work for little or no money, but you get to be among the best film people in Denmark and learn from them. Learning by doing is the principle and there are some pretty cool and competent people in the business who started out at Zentropa. New talent is about having your eyes open at the film school, and the fact that the film school is rather small and that many people were at Zentropa before makes it pretty easy to spot new talent. Peter Aalbæk Jense, the CEO of Zentropa, has always been a genius where spotting new directors is concerned. I’m good at spotting sales talent.
Let’s move on to Lars von Trier. What would you say his influence represents today in the Nordic film industry?
Lars is a one-off, you know. He’s very special because he doesn’t compromise. I would say that very few directors, even worldwide, are in the same league as him. He has brilliant ideas. When you happen to talk to him about one of his future projects you find yourself wondering ‘where does this all come from?’ He has huge value, not only for Zentropa but also for the film industry in general. You need a director who sets the game. He’s well ahead of many directors today. I don’t think he sees himself that way, but the mere fact that he’s made so many remarkable films and won so many prizes while remaining “uncompromisable” makes him almost like a mentor to many upcoming talents.
Lars works a lot with women, and women are a major topic in his movies. Would you say this gives a special tone to his work?
I think he has a huge fascination for women. But what we call the “weaker sex” actually proves to be the stronger, and that’s probably what’s fascinating to Lars. And it’s the reason why, if you look at Zentropa, we have 80% women and 20% men.
Is there a strong femal presence at Zentropa?
There certainly is. If you look at the TrustNordisk website we have only two men on the staff, and 14 women. It’s the same at Zentropa. This isn’t something we decide beforehand, it just turned out to be the women who were best for the vacant positions.
Would you say that is the key to the current success of Scandinavian cinema?
It’s probably not right to say that is a “key” to the success of Danish films abroad because, to be honest, you have some male directors doing an amazing job. But when you look at the sales side and the way we get films out to the festivals, women are extremely good salespeople. It’s crucial to make sure that you’re bought by the best distributors at the right price, and to be able to promote your films. In this respect, we have indirect power over the success of Nordic films * Nordisk Film, founded in the Copenhagen suburb of Valby by Danish filmmaker Ole Olsen in 1906, is the third oldest film studio in the world behind French Gaumont and Pathé. It produces feature films, animation movies, TV series and documentaries for both the Scandinavian and international market. It is currently held by Zentropa. ** Zentropa is a film company created by director Lars Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen in 1992. Today it is the largest production company in Scandinavia, with a catalogue featuring over 70 movies. It gained international fame for being the home of the Dogme-95 movement.
RIKKE WEARS T-SHIRT GANNI LEATHER JACKET TWIST AND TANGO
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Ted Hope Cited on numerous lists as one of the top visionaries in independent film, Ted Hope has been the driving force behind some of the most important indie films in the last two decades, including The Ice Storm, Happiness, Eat Drink Man Woman, American Splendor and In the Bedroom. For his latest endeavor, he is bringing his knowledge of the industry to Fandor to revolutionize the online streaming world of film By Marsha Brady Photography 5pts
TE D H O P E I S the CEO of Fandor, a new San Francisco-based subscription movie viewing service and social video sharing platform launched in March 2011 that offers film fans better curation and deeper engagement, making ambitious, diverse, and vibrant film culture a sustainable enterprise for all participants. Here he speaks with American Apparel Creative Director Marsha Brady to give the CIFF Gazette his unique global overview on the future of the movie industry and how he plans to change the way we look at cinema.
Tell us about your vision for the future of the industry for film makers and viewers. What’s the current situation, what isn't working, and what needs to change? Describe the system reboot you have in mind.
In America, the film business has historically focused on the mass market, with movies pressured and designed to appeal to the widest audience possible. Budgets, and thus the filmmaker’s vision, get set based upon that anticipated appeal. Furthermore, the US only has a market-driven cultural economy: projects are funded based on their projected revenue – which inherently means creators self-censor in order to win favour from the financiers. Perversely though, the business plan that all filmmakers use is hopelessly antiquated, with the exception of those who can utilize a privileged relationship to partner with the studios, and then if you are going to dance with the devil… well you know how that story goes! Most independent filmmakers are trained only to budget their film up to the point of a festival premiere, ignoring the need to plan to exploit any revenue stream beyond distributor acquisition, with all the middle-man commissions and cost add-ons that entails. All this pushes recoupment, let alone profit, even further down the road. The best thing we could do to preserve a diverse and ambitious film culture is to make sure that the creators and their financial supporters are both the direct financial beneficiaries of the work they create – but currently the film industry is far, far, away from that. It’s a world that was constructed when there was a scarcity of “content”, a centralized distribution monopoly, and an ability to focus attention – the exact antithesis of today’s abundance, access anywhere anytime on any device, and a world overrun with distractions.
So what are the artists doing wrong? And is there a way out?
Artists compromise themselves not only by exclusively planning for this sales market approach – and generally only for their local distribution territory – but also by focusing on a series of personal one-off products. We live at a time when creators can establish direct relationships with their fans, and through a relationship-based business model develop selfsustaining communities that can then be infinitely expanded through cooperative ventures utilizing the network effect that the web’s connectivity delivers. The consequence of a culture of abundance encourages an equally generative model of prolific creation and ubiquitous access, and with that the necessity for radical collaborations, evolving iterations, and non-auteur-driven (or multiple-auteur-driven) works. The possibility of establishing an artist-focused, service-based, global end-to-end facilitator for cinema lovers and makers is within our reach, but it requires communities to vote for the culture they want with their dollars, voices, and actions.
What’s the future of digital content? How differently are we watching films now? How do you think our relationship to film has changed and where do you see it going?
We have immediate access to everything. The choice is overwhelming. Everything has been recorded, duplicated, and stored. Unless we know something will
expire, everything is a “save-for-later” deferment. All creation is built on what’s come before, and cut-andpaste is just another colour on any creator’s palate. Personal viewing and community-based viewing are two profoundly different experiences. Individualized consumption encourages a stop-and-start, multiple-stream methodology that potentially both limits and deepens connections. Although we opt for the opposite, studies show we value and more fondly remember experience over material possessions. In a world where everything is available entirely or in part, in original or duplicated form, at a wide variety of price points, the desire for an authentic, non-replicable experience is forever expanding. The filmmaker of yesterday is the experience-designer of today, with all creators utilizing multiple disciplines and platforms to deliver transformative events that can engaged with in a variety of ways, at different depths, and over different time periods.
» It’s a world that was constructed when there was a scarcity of “content”, a centralized distribution monopoly, and an ability to focus attention – the exact antithesis of today’s abundance, access anywhere anytime on any device, and a world overrun with distractions. « Part of the appeal of Fandor, at least for me, is that there are only 5,000 titles. Rarity is a factor in the curation that I appreciate. For more 'mass-market' selections I would go to, say, Netflix. Would you carry a critically acclaimed film that has received a wide release and is already relatively accessible, or is the feeling that such films dilute the feeling of rarity of the other content?
Fandor focuses on the Seven C’s: Content, Curation, Context, Community, Connectivity, Consequence, and Cinematic Experience. Cinema is a dialogue between the work and the audience, beginning long before you hear of a title and long after the credits end. Since we look at film as a community-based, non-linear engagement, we are not title-centric. Experiences grow deeper the more people participate. No other art form, or even legal activity, has the power cinema has to create shared emotional responses amongst strangers, be they in darkened halls or scattered across diverse regions of anonymity, compelling them to discuss challenging subjects in the most passionate of ways. To me, the greatest cinema is only accessed in conversation and shared appreciation. Most online film sites are replicants of the storefronts of the analogue era, delivering grids of products, devoid of love, history, dreams, or celebration. We’re not an algorithm. Fandor is about people: our selection is predicated on what activates passion, be it for the few or the masses, as long as it is deep. There’s no denying that people most often want what other people have, and that is a constant dilemma. Similarly there is a general bias for the familiar. As an avid film lover, I have already found enough films, generally rated 4 or 5 stars by sources I trust, to carry me at least a decade beyond my life expectancy. To date, the film industry has done a horrible job connecting people with the work they are most likely to
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appreciate, but I’m confident that if we shift our consumption so that it’s based on educated choice rather than sales-pressured impulse, we’ll all be far happier and more strongly engaged. Step by step we can bring ourselves closer to that dream.
So you’re curating ‘niche’ while independent film makers are dreaming 'big' with Hollywood?
Generally speaking, American filmmakers have had only one real choice if they want to have a sustainable career, and that is to enter the Hollywood system. We only have one Jim Jarmusch. Others have had to opt in to academia, commercials, or inherited wealth to survive. Only recently has it become apparent that we now have the liberty to directly engage with niche audiences in a true value-added relationship, eschewing those other avenues. I am incredibly thankful that the wave of 90’s independents that now dominate the Oscar potentials every year not only got their foot in the door but stormed the castle. It saddens me deeply that our industry has now truly bifurcated into a 1% haves and 99% have-nots world. We live in an era where great work goes unseen and I do believe that if we amplify the voice of all the terrific filmmakers working today, we can turn that back around.
Let’s talk about social media. You talk about seeing film in 'real time'?
Cinema should be a community activity. Great work compels conversation. We can now connect engagement with action and with it unleash a new urgency around substantial creations. Over 120 years ago, we invented this entirely unique art form but we have never unlocked its true utility, forever getting lost in its promises of awe and wonder. Now that we are all connected, if we train ourselves to embed a call to action into the experience that is cinema, it becomes a gift that keeps on giving, uniting us, revealing us, connecting us. Cinema builds bridges of empathy across great divides of difference, granting us passports to realms we never imagined. The trick is not getting lost in those discoveries and seeing consumption as the end of the process. The key – and the map – is social media. It is what can connect us, but our current fixation with just being heard or seen, i.e. Selfie Culture, is only the toe in the water, and we need to learn how to welcome the embrace too.
And finally what do you think about the changing relationship to film, the way we watch TV now, and the way from a young age people are curating images of themselves on the Internet to create illusion? Can you see any signs of how this screen-based, on-demand culture is affecting film making, and can you speculate on the future of film?
I have long dreamed of an era of “Instant Cinema” that can comment on the events we are presently experiencing. Cinema was born in the analogue era where work was meant to be completed, locked in form, and sought perfection. Digital culture in contrast is forever evolving, seeks multiple iterations, and rewards the noble failure, building and adapting based on what came before and comments people make. The maestros and masters of tomorrow accept today’s reality and take us deeper, helping us to see the now and fostering a desire to reach out to others. As we move from an emphasis on product to a more experience-driven scenario, cinema will no longer be location or temporally based. We dive in and skim along, sampling and bingeing, solo and en masse, living in our pockets and launching content in a variety of formats, gamified or text-based. Everything is forever accessible. Hopefully the interconnectivity is so deep within the community that consumers recognize that an artist’s ability to share their creation is anchored by that community’s engagement, and the experience of consumption brings added pleasure because the viewer knows that another creator can now afford health care or education for their child
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FOLLOW THE MONEY (2015) 1864 (2014) ARVINGERNE SEASON 1-2 « THE LEGACY » (2014-2015) BROEN SEASON 2 « THE BRIDGE » (2013) BORGEN SEASON 3 (2013) FORBRYDELSEN SEASON 1-2-3 « THE KILLING » (2006-2012) NIKOLAJ OG JULIE «NIKOLAJ AND JULIE » (2002-2003)
Piv Bernth Money is important when it comes to producing television shows but this is not the only key to quality fiction. It's easy to yield to the temptation of special effects but nothing can replace a great story and solid characters By Pierre Serisier Photography Charlotte Eugenié Stylist Denise Wilke Juhl
OV E R TH E L A S T five years, public channel DR has put Danish television shows on the map of global TV entertainment, challenging the primacy of Hollywood and – to a lesser extent – imaginative British productions such as The Avengers, The Prisoner or the recent teenage drama Skins. The Danish television industry, which was long seen as lacking what it takes to be influential, has built this new chapter of its history on firm foundations: a vivid storytelling tradition established by internationally acclaimed directors such as Lars von Trier, Nicolas Winding Refn and Thomas Vinterberg. Thanks to them, boundaries were pushed back, the barrier of language was overcome and shows like Forbrydelsen, Borgen and Broen paved the way for others. Historical saga 1864 is expected this autumn. “These days, it seems like readers and viewers can’t get enough of crime stories, whatever the platform”.
Danish TV shows are enjoying what we might call a golden age. But things started a long time ago, back in the 1990s, with Kingdom (Riget) by Lars Von Trier and Pusher by Nicolas Winding Refn. How come it took almost twenty years to realise how good the Danish shows were?
The Danish and Scandinavian focus really started with the Dogme films. Rumle Hammerich, who was head of drama, was part of that movement and he started to professionalise the way television was developed and produced. He looked at the American way and adapted it into a Danish model. The motto “one vision” forms the core of this development. It took ten years before we won the first international Emmy in 2002, and this brought us into the international
spotlight. This has been increasingly the case over the last 5 years, since The Killing broke the barriers of the Danish language and people in all countries started watching the series with subtitles. I think the language partly explains why it took ten to twenty years.
Shows like Those Who Kill (Dem Son Draeber), The Bridge (Broen) and The Killing (Forbrydelsen) have had their rights acquired by US producers for remakes. It has been said that Borgen and Lærkevej might follow this trend. Things have changed quickly over the last few years. Do producers, TV channels and other partners in the industry realise that Denmark has a lot to bring to the table?
Yes, absolutely! But there is a trend these days to buy rights for remakes because it’s cheaper than developing new projects, and if the theme of series is adaptable, it’s interesting to do a local version.
What has changed for you as head of drama at DR?
I’m out of production now and that is a big change. It’s a great pleasure to be in charge of so many accomplished people who are working at the drama department at DR. Now I’m a small part of it all – I used to a big part of one production. I learn new things every day and I enjoy the change in my professional life.
These successful shows have something in common: they are all more or less crime fiction. We know that Scandinavian countries have put their names on the crime fiction map with writers such as Camilla Lackberg, Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell and Leif Davidsen. A lot of
titles are currently being published in this particular genre. Is there any connection with the success of the TV shows?
I’m sure there’s a connection. These days it seems like readers and viewers can’t get enough of crime stories, whatever the platform. We never adapt books into TV series – we only do original stories – but I’m sure the success and the focus on TV series and books feed into each other.
Another common point is that lead characters are women. Like Sarah Lund, Saga Noren and Birgit Nyborg, they are strong-willed and determined, but they have weaknesses they have to hide to live in a man’s world. Was this done on purpose, or was it simply a coincidence? Or perhaps female characters can be much more complex and much more interesting than male characters?
It is pretty much a coincidence. Sarah Lund and Birgitte Nyborg are very different characters. Sarah Lund was created in 2006 as one of the first notable female characters, and she is not fighting her way through a man’s world. She is who she is, and she’s not influenced by anybody but the perpetrator. Birgitte Nyborg is the first female prime minister in Denmark, and that’s a tough task if you’re trying to live a normal family life. She has to cope with gender issues, but that is not relevant for either Sarah Lund or Saga Norén, who are fighting themselves more than their male colleagues. Ten to fifteen years ago female characters sparked our curiosity, but now at DR we’ve started to look at the male characters – what happened to the men while we were all looking at the women? »
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PIV WEARS BLAZER INWEAR SHIRT WHIITE PANTS INWEAR SHOES PRETTY BALLERINA
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We are waiting for new shows such as The Legacy (Arvingerne) and the highly anticipated 1864 about the second Schleswig War against Germany. Are you eager to explore new territories now that your “savoir-faire” is acknowledged and respected?
Absolutely. We are always trying to look into new stories, to revitalize the way we tell the stories and the way we produce the series. We can’t sit down and relax because things are going our way – on the contrary!
Comedy and soap operas still seem to be neglected genres. This is surprising as Matador remains one of the favourite shows ever in Denmark. Klovn, for example, did not make the same breakthrough. What can we expect in the next few years? Shows that explore the family arena more deeply? Or historical sagas like Kroniken, even if they are expensive to produce? I think we will continue with the contemporary topics because we like to give viewers something to think about and discuss that relates to their own lives. We try to challenge them and to raise questions instead of giving answers.
Could you tell us more about 1864 as it will be the showcase production not only in Denmark but also Europe-wide this autumn?
The tagline is: ‘hearts bleed in love and war’, and the story is about two brothers going to war – we follow their destiny through the eight episodes. At the same time we tell a story about politicians who have big dreams and visions that all go up in the air. It is about the early making of the modern state of Denmark.
Is there a specific way to produce TV series in Denmark? Everything seems to be integrated at DR. What are the main strengths of the production sector? Everybody seems to know
everybody. Does this “village-like” situation make the work easier?
Well, we are a small country and that means a small business. We have the same people working in feature films, TV series, and commercial television. At DR we were the first company to take TV series seriously in the mid nineties, and now that success and public at-
» You have to write from your heart and from your cultural background because that’s what you know. If you can then reach a bigger audience around the world I think it is because you are true to your story and the characters. « tention have come more production companies are interested in the genre. DR has a good relationship with the private production companies – 1864 is produced with Miso Film, The Bridge is produced with SVT, Filmlance and Nimbus Film and The Team is produced with Nordisk Film. Our Sunday night series are produced in-house because we have the necessary skills, the continuity and the know-how acquired through twenty years of hard work.
Israel’s TV shows such as In Treatment (Be
Ti’Pul), Hatufim and Hostages have inspired remakes in the United States. But it appears that Israeli writers and producers conceive their shows mostly for being sold abroad, i.e. in the USA. The reason is simple: the domestic market is too narrow to be profitable. This situation weighs heavily on the storylines themselves, which don’t reflect the social reality of the homeland. Your leitmotiv is “keep it Danish”. How important is it to show your true colours?
DR is a public service broadcaster and our main target is Danish viewers, no doubt about that. We are excited about the international success and I’m sure that it is because we keep it Danish. If we try to make it American or English we will fail because the Americans and the British are much better at that. You have to write from your heart and from your cultural background because that’s what you know. If you can then reach a bigger audience around the world I think it is because you are true to your story and the characters.
And what are the true colours of Denmark’s shows? The atmosphere (blue in The Killing, grey and white in The Bridge, neutral in Borgen), the characters, or the internal structure of the stories?
Denmark is a complex society, like all other countries, and all three colours you mention are true. What’s new is that we show them.
From an outsider’s point of view, I can’t help but notice that the number 3 is important. Three seasons for Borgen and The Killing. Three writers. Do you think that the fourth season is the one you should avoid, the one that might drag you down?
I’ve never thought about that! We respect the writer’s vision and the length of the story. The difference between the three seasons in The Killing and Borgen is that The Killing was told in forty episodes and Borgen
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in thirty. Søren Sveistrup had a plan for three seasons of The Killing from the start, and Adam Price realised while making the second season of Borgen that he could tell us more about Birgitte Nyborg and Danish democracy. That said, I think that some series have problems with repetitive storylines after the first three or four seasons, so there has to be a very good reason and an absolutely convincing storyline to go on after three seasons.
Danish TV shows feel very realistic compared to American ones stuffed with special effects. Does this stem from Dogme 95 created by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg?
Yes, we think more unplugged. It’s part of our storytelling tradition and it also relates to our budgets. We can’t afford a lot of CGI, special effects, etc. Our budgets are much smaller than those for American TV series. We try to make it a virtue. Tobias Lindholm who wrote on Borgen along with Adam Price was writer/director of the film A Hijacking (Kapringen) featuring Soren Malling and Johan Philip Asbaek, who were both part of Borgen’s cast. Lindholm often works with Thomas Vinterberg. Could you describe the relationships between the small and large screens in Denmark? How easy is it to pass from one to the other? As mentioned before, we’re a small country and that’s why we meet each other all the time: writers, directors, directors of photography, production crews and definitely actors. I like this because we learn from each other all the time and keep developing the way we work in both film and television.
One man, Rumle Hammerich, played a hugely influential role at DR when he was appointed head of the fiction department. Could you tell us what he changed and what his legacy is?
Rumle was the first to change the TV series into a made-for-TV story. He travelled to the US with the senior producer, Sven Clausen, and they adapted the
American way to Danish television. Earlier on a lot of the series and TV movies were adapted from novels, stage plays or written by novelists, but Rumle got writers from the Danish film school to write for DR – and then a new era started. Rumle is the godfather of the modern TV series in Denmark. After Rumle came Ingolf Gabold, who reorganised the drama department and refined the way we worked, giving the producer and writer full responsibility for the production – two people with one vision running the show. This method was slowly changed to fit the Danish approach, so we could match it with the skills of the Danish cast and crew. That work is still going on.
I have read somewhere that only 4% of the DR budget is devoted to fiction. This seems very little, but if you consider the outcome it seems to be enough. Isn’t money the key to the quality of a show?
Money is very, very important, but it’s not the only key to quality. A good story is the most important quality, and you can tell big stories on small budgets. Of course production values matter more and more, but at the same time you feel tempted to go in the opposite direction and challenge the big spend on effects. Get close to the characters and their emotions and you get closer to your audience. Character-driven series are less expensive than plot-driven ones.
Do TV shows have an influence on tourism or fashion in Denmark? To my great surprise, Sarah Lund’s jumper was a fashion hit.
Yes, indeed. The Copenhagen tourist board does special tours in the footsteps of Sarah Lund and around Borgen, which is slang for the Danish parliament. At DR we joke that we should be subsidised by the tourist board. We were very surprised about the impact of the Lund jumper – Sarah Lund wears it because we wanted to show that she’s not vain about her looks: blue jeans, jumper from the seventies, boots, ponytail and
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Opposite Peter (Jens-Frederik Sætter Lassen) with his brigade. Above Johanne Louise Heiberg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) teaches Prime Minister Monrad (Nicolas Bro) how to do a speech. Photography Per Arnesen, Miso Film
a black coat – plain and simple clothes that can keep her warm in our cold and rainy November. Suddenly it became an obsession in Denmark, in the UK, in France, everywhere. Of course it had a lot to do with the character and the way it was played by Sofie Gråbøl. It’s nice that you can’t predict what will catch the audience’s eye.
Most Danish actors, like Sidse Babett Knudsen, speak English fluently. Some of them, like Mads Mikkelsen or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, managed to give their career an international dimension by moving to the United States. Do we run the risk of seeing gifted actors flee?
Yes, and I think it’s wonderful to see Danish actors making it big abroad. They all come back once in a while to work on a feature film or in a TV series, because they all have the urge to work in their own language. There is a certain distance when you work in a foreign language. Mads Mikkelsen, who is mostly working abroad, got the Golden Palm in Cannes for a Danish film (The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg) and I think that has to do with language. You are more real in your mother tongue.
Could you introduce yourselves in a few words?
I was educated as a stage director at the Royal National Theatre, made my debut in 1981, and started to work at DR as a freelance director in 1986 as well as in the theatre. I directed TV series, TV movies, sketch shows and drama docs until Rumle Hammerich hired me as a producer in 1998. I started producing with Søren Sveistrup in 2000, and we did Nikolaj and Julie and The Killing trilogy together. In 2011 I was appointed head of drama
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MIKKEL WEARS SHIRT MARTINIQUE PANTS AND SHOES J. LINDEBERG
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FASANDRÆBERNE « THE ABSENT ONE » (2014) KVINDEN I BURET « THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES » (2013) BORGEN [4 EPISODES] (2010-2011) KLOVN THE MOVIE (2010) KLOVN (2005-2009)
Mikkel Nørgaard Mikkel Nørgaard created the longest running modern sitcom on Danish television and transformed it into a huge movie success. And then he surprised everybody by turning the Scandi-noir genre inside out – something he’s in the process of doing once again. But how? By Jacob Wendt Jensen Photography Nikolaj Møller Stylist Denise Wilke Juhl
M I K K E L N Ø R G A A R D I S the director behind the very successful TV series Klown starring Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen and the feature film of the same name. The success has been so phenomenal that some people in the film industry doubted whether Nørgaard would be able to direct films in other genres. There were no such doubts at the film company Zentropa, and now they’ve been proved right as the energetic and imaginative Nørgaard has made another big success out of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s crime thriller book The Keeper of Lost Causes. In Denmark and around the world, people are eager to see the sequel The Absent One, which premieres in Danish cinemas on 2 October. “How did you go about creating a new dimension for Scandinavian film noir?” This and many other questions were on the tip of my tongue when I walked into Nørgaard’s office at Zentropa in Avedoere. The first thing that caught my eye was the “mood board” with its collection of images designed to provide inspiration for the film series.
How far has Keeper of the Lost Causes travelled around the world?
The film has been sold to many countries, but the major difference for us was that selling significant rights before we made the film meant that we had more money available while shooting. Usually in Denmark
we make a movie for 20 million DKK - maybe 25 million if we get really lucky. We’ve had 40 million DKK for each of our two films so far: an unusually large amount of money, which meant we could be better prepared and make the films in a slightly different way from the average Danish film.
different way. Usually we shoot in the streets as much as possible and dress a few fixed locations as well as we can. Here we went the opposite way and made reality fit with the things production designer Rasmus Thjellesen and I started preparing a full year before we began filming. It was a unique situation.
Are you happy to be working in Denmark?
How much of the visual universe is from the books and how much is your invention?
Yes, I am. We’re very privileged here in terms of the influence we have on the whole filmmaking process as directors. But it’s tempting to tackle the development of a film in a whole new way. This was something both I and the screenwriters Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg found very attractive. Often we only get eight weeks’ preparation time, because we usually get the green light for a movie very late in the process. No matter how many visions you have, there just isn’t much time to let them blossom. Because Zentropa could see the potential in the long run with four movies, we could afford to build Department Q where Carl works, and we built his home and so on. These kinds of investments are possible because they can be amortized through four movies—it wouldn’t have been possible with just one movie. It’s all about economies of scale.
How did more money and more time help you?
We could deal with the visual universe in a completely
On the whole it’s very much our invention. I have great respect for the original book: if you don’t have that you might as well find your own story. On the other hand it’s equally important to create your own work. You don’t want to deliver a copy of the original work. First of all because it’s boring. Secondly, because the audience doesn’t want to watch a seven hour movie. Thirdly, because you want to create your own work. You have to respect the essence of the story and the characters and use that as your starting point. Nikolaj Arcel and I have taken out large parts of the book, and those decisions in themselves create a new universe. We found out that the private layer in the books was what interested us the least, whereas Carl’s work was of great interest to us. Also because in the Scandinavian tradition of making films and TV series we’ve been very good at creating pretty much a fiftyfifty balance between the personal and professional lives in the stories: Borgen is just one example. »
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» Nikolaj Arcel and I grew up on the golden age of American cinema from the 1970s, with films like Three Days of the Condor and All the President’s Men, where they managed to draw up believable characters without telling us anything about their private lives. «
This balance gives the viewers empathy for the characters. So it’s a radical choice to take some of the private layers out. Nikolaj Arcel and I grew up on the golden age of American cinema from the 1970s, with films like Three days of the Condor and All the President’s Men, where they managed to draw up believable characters without telling us anything about their private lives. We started to wonder if we could succeed in that way, and wonder what the universe in The Keeper of Lost Causes might be like if we went in that direction.
Did you also set the film’s tone as a reaction against traditional Scandi-noir style?
Yes, partly. One of the first questions that arose was why we wanted to make the film at all. It’s part of a genre where many films, both good and bad, have come out – so what did we have to contribute? It was important to find our own approach. At the same time, we’re at a point where TV series are doing better than feature films in terms of story and character development. Why should anyone spend nearly 100 DKK and the cost of a babysitter to see our movie? We had to give people very good reasons to do that. At the same time we had a reaction against the cold, blue style we know so well, and also against scenes filmed with a handheld camera. One day I attended an exhibition by photographer Gregory Crewdson at the National Library, The Black Diamond. I like to draw inspiration from outside the film world. It was absolutely fantastic. Crewdson spends between one week and a fortnight on one picture. There are lamps with artificial light everywhere and his pictures have great warmth in them, although something dark is always lurking beneath the surface.
How did you move forward from that point?
We then made this mood board with a series of images that could inspire us: clusters of images that would guide us in the direction of the tone of each location. It’s still on the wall up here with more than 100 photos, and in general it points towards everything having to be very organic. Glass and steel was banned. The fabrics and the surfaces of our film were chosen to give the spectator a warmer feel by using a more layered texture. Bricks, trees, golden things, leather and so on. Whereas you might say that Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer have a documentary style in R and Northwest with a kind of “reality rules” aesthetic, we were not interested in reality at all.
You have a big drawing of the container or “cage” from The Keeper of Lost Causes. Why was it drawn before you made the film and turned into an A3 poster?
We found it was very useful in terms of creating a common language for the crew: the costume designer, the make-up artist and other people working on the film. It’s the first time I’ve worked with the kind of concept artist you usually see in the world of computer games. We tried to give him input and asked him to come up with a suggestion for the cage. It was a matter of getting to know exactly how it would look in the film. The drawing was supposed to be a frame from the film, which had not been made yet. Today you can see that this picture is not very different from the movie. This was an unusual tool for me to use. We could have made these films for 25 million DKK, but they would have been very different and probably not as interesting. The genre calls for something extraordinary, because it’s always been there and each time period has had its own take on it. One of its most important strengths is that you can step into something other than reality.
Who are you inspired by in the crime film genre?
The best in my opinion is David Fincher with Se7en, but Blade Runner is also a model in the sense that it has a story that everyone can relate to even if it takes place somewhere in the future. One of the things that cinema is still able to do — unlike TV series — is that you get to sit in the dark and be absorbed into another world for a few hours. Whether it’s documentary, a western or anything else, I like to get out of my own reality and into a completely different universe, and to be able to compare my own reality with that world.
How did you choose the costumes for the main characters?
If you give Nikolaj Lie Kaas a suit that fits him he looks like a million dollars. This meant he had to have an excessively large suit to make him look more lost. We chose a short leather jacket and some slightly baggy army-style pants for Assad. Something in his clothing tells us he’s capable of doing more than the average cop. There’s something military about him. He beats a man to death with an iron pipe in The Keeper of Lost Causes, and on that occasion we let him hit the bad guy a few extra times so that the audience would understand who he is. He believes in good, but he also believes that evil must be fought with evil. The right costumes help to show what the characters are like inside.
It sounds like the costumes are very important!
Another thing is that I’d rather not have the characters change costumes in my films. It means you can swap scenes more easily, but most of all it’s because I like the time when men had to wear suits. Suits created icons in films. I don’t need to see a protagonist wearing shorts or sportswear because that would point the audience in different directions, which I’m not interested in. I’m interested in the image of the figure. When a character finally changes his clothes, it must be within the same style—unless you have something very important to say about his character. When I was directing a few episodes of Borgen I limited each character’s clothes to one set in each episode, with the exception of Sidse Babett Knudsen as the Prime Minister. She had one set at work and another for leisure. It’s OK if you want to say something
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» Why try to play with the big boys when we can’t afford it? I was afraid of committing hubris, but I also really enjoyed finding out if it was possible, because I’m ambitious and because I knew it would be great to succeed in that way. «
Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Fares Fares, who are allowed to work more on their characters. They know them better now, and can go deeper into them.
Is the humour in the film from the book, or did you create it yourself?
specific with a leisure suit, but if it’s just for the sake of variation forget it. New day, new clothes, no thanks: the audience doesn’t necessarily even know it’s a new day in the film. Carl has the same clothes throughout the whole film, and therefore of course it’s important to choose the right ones.
Is it difficult to be a reliable narrator and at the same time work with a new very specific style?
Are you crazy? That was one of our main concerns. Spending huge amounts of time on style makes you nervous about the interior of the film ending up being boring and stiff. I was really worried about this issue. Also because since the Dogma days we’ve shown that we’re really good at telling stories in Denmark. When we concentrate on the history and the actors, we make really good films that don’t cost billions. Why try to play with the big boys when we can’t afford it? I was afraid of committing hubris, but I also really enjoyed finding out if it was possible, because I’m ambitious and because I knew it would be great to succeed in that way. There were times while shooting when I cursed the fact we had to put up lights for two and a half hours to shoot just one person in a short scene. The style is completely irrelevant if there are no emotions in the film.
How did you move on to The Absent one in terms of visual style?
It’s been a crazy process in many ways, because we’d decided to make the second film before the first one was even released: the preparation for The Absent One had already started while we were doing sound and editing for the first film. We had to begin shooting
Danica Curcic (left) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (right) in The Absent One. Photography Christian Geisnaes/Zentropa
The Absent One a week before the premiere of the first film, which meant I couldn’t consider people’s reactions to it before I made all the important decisions regarding film number two. What would I do differently? I chose to stick to some basic things in terms of Q and the universe around Carl, but I left the rest of the first movie behind both for our sake and for the audience’s sake. We want to give people a feeling that it’s great to see some of what we know, but that it’s even better to see something new. That’s our ambition, anyway. The Absent One consists of two storylines in the past and the present, just like the first film. We’ve moved closer in on the actors, and we did this with a somewhat more searching style and more handheld camera work. We’ve tried to open it all up a bit, but that’s also partly because of the story. The Keeper of Lost Causes was a more claustrophobic story, which inexorably marched toward a fateful meeting at the end. The Absent One has more characters and moves in different environments. We simply had to open up our imagery more.
Is it fair to say you have the benefits of the TV series now that you’re making more movies than just one?
Exactly. There’s the huge advantage that you can go back over things. Many directors have experienced looking back after the film is finished with the sense that only now do they know how to direct the movie. I’m lucky enough to get a chance to do it better the second time around, and it’s the same for the actors
There is humour in the books, but it’s of a slightly different kind. I have a strong relationship with humour, but it must be character-driven. It was exciting to work with very understated humour—it actually might be the main reason I made the film, even though we mostly talk about creating the film’s “universe”. “The development of a friendship” was my own tagline to the first film. Therefore it was very important to find exactly the right actors. We did a lot of exploring. The idea of Fares Fares was there early on, but it took me six months to track him down in the United States. He’s on the verge of breaking through over there, so he’s a busy man who had to commit to participating in all four films from the start. In the books Carl is at least ten years older than Nikolaj Lie Kaas. I looked elsewhere at first, but something bothered me about the concept of an older man having quit his life on the mental level. One day it occurred to me that if the audience saw a 40-year-old who had given up, they’d engage with him more strongly. The contradictions between a younger age and a man who has given up also provided the film with more elasticity.
In recent years, you’ve travelled to the Cannes Film Festival, where we almost bumped into each other on a street corner this year. Why do you go there?
In relation to my dreams of making films abroad I must say that Hollywood is a bit of a mystery to me: I’ve been struggling to understand their approach and how they go about their business. My colleague Nikolaj Arcel and others have tried to fly back and forth, but it’s not going to happen to me. I’m not going to put myself onto an airplane, go to a couple of meetings and fly back home. I’m too busy here and I want to be with my family when I’m not making movies. Having six or eight projects at various stages of development and then seeing how they go is alien to me. But in Cannes this year I met some pretty cool people with no definite plans, and it was great to meet other people with passion and dreams about movies. I was pleasantly surprised, and we’ll see what the future holds for me on that level
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S A R A H S O F I E B O U S S N I N A A N D G U S TAV G I E S E
COMEBACK (TBC) 1864 (2014) FASANDRÆBERNE « THE ABSENT ONE » (2014) FORBRYDELSEN SEASON 3 « THE KILLING » (2012) OUTSIDER (2012) BORA BORA (2011) LÆRKEVEJ « PARK ROAD » (2009)
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S A R A H S O F I E B O U S S N I N A A N D G U S TAV G I E S E
APRIL 9TH (TBC) I DINE HÆNDER « IN YOUR ARMS » (2014) NÅR DYRENE DRØMMER « WHEN ANIMALS DREAM » (2014) HEARTLESS (2014) NORTHWEST (2013)
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OPENING SPREAD SARAH SOFIE WEARS SHIRT RODEBJER SWIMSUIT GANNI EARRINGS LUCY LOVE
PREVIOUS GUSTAV WEARS LEATHER JACKET M.A.B
TANK TOP BJØRN BORG TRACK PANTS AND SNEAKERS
BRAND BLACK BRACELETS BLACK DAKINI RINGS TOM WOOD
ABOVE SARAH SOFIE WEARS T-SHIRT VINTAGE JUMPSUIT HOFMANN COPENHAGEN
SNEAKERS CONVERSE BRACELETS BLACK
DAKINI EARRINGS LUCY FOLK
OPPOSITE GUSTAV WEARS BOMBER JACKET,
T-SHIRT AND SHORTS ASTRID ANDERSEN NECKLACE BLACK DAKINI
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GUSTAV WEARS SWEATSHIRT L'HOMME ROUGE PANTS
BRAND8 SNEAKERS BRAND BLACK BRACELET BLACK DAKINI RINGS TOM WOOD SARAH SOFIE WEARS T-SHIRT TWIST AND TANGO SKIRT BIBI CHEMNITZ ANKLE BOOTS SHOE THE BEAR NECKLACE AND BRACELETS BLACK DAKINI
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GUSTAV WEARS SHORTS ROBINSON LES BAINS
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TOP GUSTAV WEARS SWEATSHIRT TRINE LINDEGAARD T-SHIRT BIBI CHEMNITZ SHORTS M.A.B SARAH SOFIE WEARS VEST RODEBJER BRA GANNI NECKLACE BLACK DAKINI RING LUCY FOLK
ABOVE GUSTAV WEARS SWEATSHIRT AND CAP BRAND8 NECKLACE AND BRACELET BLACK DAKINI RING TOM WOOD
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GUSTAV WEARS SHIRT AND SHORTS L’ HOMME ROUGE BRACELET TOM WOOD BRACELET BLACK DAKINI
SARAH SOFIE WEARS SHIRT KAREN BY SIMONSEN NECKLACE AND EARRINGS LUCY FOLK
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GUSTAV WEARS TANK TOP BJØRN BORG TRACK PANTS AND SNEAKERS BRAND BLACK BRACELETS BLACK
DAKINI RING TOM WOOD SARAH SOFIE WEARS BLAZER EACH X OTHER TOP BIBI CHEMNITZ LEATHER SHORTS MI-NO-RO WATCH TRIWA X STORM BRACELETS BLACK DAKINI EARRINGS AND RINGS LUCY FOLK RINGS TOM WOOD
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SARAH SOFIE WEARS BOMBER JACKET HUNKY DORY TOP BIBI CHEMNITZ JEANS APRIL 77 WATCH TRIWA X STORM EARRINGS AND RINGS LUCY FOLK BRACELETS BLACK DAKINI
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S A R A H S O F I E B O U S S N I N A A N D G U S TAV G I E S E
SARAH SOFIE WEARS SHIRT RODEBJER SWIMSUIT GANNI EARRINGS LUCY LOVE
PHOTOGRAPHER CAMERON ALEXANDER STYLIST YASMINE ESLAMI ACTORS SARAH SOFIE BOUSSNINA AND GUSTAV GIESE AGENT LINDBERG MANAGEMENT
BTS DIRECTOR MAJA DUEHOLM PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT JAMES CROSS STYLIST'S ASSISTANT DENISE WILKE JUHL MAKE UP & HAIR SIMON RIHANA DIGITAL TECH (MILK) CONNOR HUGHES
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR RYAN BESHARA & FRANK ROLLER DRIVER AIMEE CANDELARIA RETOUCHER SEBASTIEN DE OLIVEIRA CREATIVE DIRECTOR'S ASSISTANT JOY SINANIAN
LOCATIONS STANDARD HOTEL HOLLYWOOD , HOT SHOT MUFFLER, HIGHLAND PARK BILLARDS, PINK MOTEL AND MIKE KELLEY'S STUDIO
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NYMPHOMANIAC (2013) DANCER IN THE DARK (2000) HAMSUN (1996) LES MISERABLES (1998) KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER (1995) SÖNDAGSBARN « SUNDAY CHILDREN » (1992) OXEN (1991) HIP HIP HURRA! (1987)
Cecilia Hellner A personal journey that has included a passion for film, a search for spiritual fulfillment, and a flair for creative jewellery design By Virgil Barragan Photography Nikolaj Møller
C E C I LI A H E LLN E R S TA R TE D Black Dakini in 2009. At the time she was staying in Katmandu and fell in love with Tibetan malas (prayer beads). The Tibetans use their malas as a daily “tool”– always at hand, hanging around their neck as a blessing and protection and ready for some praying. Cecilia loved the idea that you can wear them and at the same time use them for something so deep and meaningful – and this was what she wanted Black Dakini Jewels to be: beauty with a deeper meaning. The very first collection was made out of original Tibetan prayer beads that Cecilia mixed with traditional Indian and Tibetan pendants. Cecilia wanted to make powerful pieces that you could wear every day and feel that you where wearing something very special and unique, but with a design that would “work” together with the western style. The name Black Dakini means “Black Sky Walker” – she is a Tibetan deity. The most appropriate translation would be “Angel”. Black Dakini represents the idea of cutting through into the very essence of all things, and connecting you with divine energy. She says the best thing is always when a person puts on one of her pieces and they just melt together – when it just fits perfectly together, and interestingly enough very often the stone that they choose is a good one for them. Some people like to hear about the power of the d ifferent stones, but sometimes it will just be a “secret” between the piece and Cecilia. Her background is not in jewellery at all but in the movie business. All she wanted was to become a designer for movies – she was so fascinated with the magic of film making, and still remembers the very first time she found herself on a soundstage. She was fifteen, and a studio production manager took her on as an intern. She fell in love with film making – the silence, everybody standing completely still in the dark, and the only light on the actors. The magic captivated her; it was the only thing that mattered. Thus began fifteen amazing years in film making. She started out making coffee and sweeping the floor, and soon became a trainee and later an assistant to some of Scandinavia’s great designers such as Peter Højmark, Henning Bahs (who also co-wrote on Olsen Banden) Karl Juliosson and Anna Asp. She worked with some amazing people: Max Von Sydow, Bergman’s phographer Sven Nykvist, Stellan Skarsgård, Ghita Nørby, Liv Ullmann, director Jan Troell, Bille August and Lars Von Trier.
In 1999, after working for fifteen years in films with the most talented people, she decided that she wanted to make a life change. At the time she was going through a divorce, and wanted to fill her life with something else than movies. Films had been so much more than a job, and for fifteen years she had worked on over 30 feature films. The magic that once was had lost its power, and it was time for her to move on. She knew when she started working on Lars Von Trier’s “Dancer in The Dark” in 1999 that this was going be her “last” movie. She sold everything she owned, including her house in Norway, put her personal belongings into two bags, and went to Mexico where she lived
» She fell in love with film making – the silence, everybody standing completely still in the dark, and the only light on the actors. The magic captivated her; it was the only thing that mattered. « on a beach in a small hut by the ocean and watched the sunset. Sitting by herself with only the vast ocean and endless sky was, she says, “quite a cold turkey” after always having a call sheet and knowing what to do for the last 15 years in the business. This marked the beginning of a new connection with her spiritual practice and her understanding of being part of a thing so much bigger than ourselves. The journey opened up a whole new world. She lived in the mountains of Peru for four years guiding people on spiritual quests. She went to the US where she found her spiritual teacher and guru, and moved into an ashram in Portland, Oregon. She trained extensively in meditation and yoga for years, and this brought her to Katmandu, where her love of prayer beads led to Black Dakini Jewels. Although she can’t imagine ever stopping making jewellery, she still also feels deeply connected with
the magic of movie making. In the summer of 2012, after thirteen years away from the business, she got a phone call from her old art department team, asking if she would join them on Lars Von Triers new movie “Nymphomaniac”. Almost before they finished asking the question she had said yes, and soon she was off to Germany for the shooting. It was an amazing time, and once again she felt the magic: it was wonderful to be re-united with her old “film family” again. Cecilia opened the Black Dakini shop in the heart of Copenhagen in December 1999. She knew it had to be a very central location to get people’s attention fast. It was a bit of a risk to open a store before anyone knew about her brand, but she felt it was an important move. She had just gone through some very difficult times in her personal life; the opening of the store became a light in the darkness and would make her jump out of bed everyday and focus on something that was positive as well as constructive. The shop fast became a hangout for the street culture boys who became a strong influence in her pieces. One day she was even blessed with a visit from the rapper Kanye West, who went away with some of her pieces. He was kind enough to wear them on stage while performing the same evening. This marked Black Dakini on the world map. Shortly afterwards Cecilia met Guillermo Andrade, the designer and owner of the store and street jewellery brand FourTwoFour on Fairfax in LA. This was the beginning of a strong new connection with LA, and led to many ongoing collaborations. Her next exclusive collection was to be with Storm Fashion in Copenhagen. “Rasmus and I met in my showroom, and it was such a pleasure to meet someone with such a fine eye and sense of style”, says Cecilia. This meeting marked the beginning of a continuous collaboration with Storm Copenhagen. Working with Storm, Cecilia met the designer Astrid Andersen and one day asked her if she could maker her a logo bead necklace. She said yes. Cecilia had just made her own logo bead and saw Astrid´s logo, a basketball with two As in it; she thought it would be cool to make it into a small pendant. Cecilia then designed an exclusive jewellery collection for Astrid´s 2014 Fall/Winter Collection and her Spring/ Summer collection for 2015. “I have been very blessed to work with some very fine people with a great sense of style and taste,” she says. “It´s such an inspiration for me and it makes the creative energy flow – what more could I ask?”
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ITSI-BITSI (2014) 1864 (2014) NYMPHOMANIAC (2013) JAGTEN « THE HUNT » (2012) EN KONGELIG AFFÆRE « A ROYAL AFFAIR » (2012) HÆVNEN « IN A BETTER WORLD » (2010) FLAMMEN & CITRONEN « FLAME & CITRON » (2008) EFTER BRYLLUPPET « AFTER THE WEDDING » (2006) DOGVILLE (2003) DANCER IN THE DARK (2000)
Manon Rasmussen The Danish Film Academy has awarded fourteen Robert prizes to Manon Rasmussen over her 35-year career: a record in the Danish film industry that nobody comes close to beating By Jacob Wendt Jensen Photography Nikolaj Møller Stylist Denise Wilke Juhl
I F YO U WATC H a Danish film set in the past, there’s
every likelihood the costumes will have been designed by Manon Rasmussen. If you see a film directed by Lars von Trier, you can be sure Rasmussen has been heavily involved. Her latest major task was to be in charge of the costumes on the Danish TV series 1864. We talk to her about her approach to costume design.
Why do you find it exciting to work with fashion and clothing in the world of film, rather than anywhere else?
I’ve never worked anywhere else, which means I can’t really make comparisons. What I like about my line of work is the way you help to build a character. A man’s clothing signals where he’s coming from and who he is. Creating the personality of a human being on the basis of the time he lives in is very interesting – it’s the little details that make it possible to fit the clothes to the character. I think there’s an extra dimension to my work compared to putting clothes on people before a fashion show – although I’m sure that can be satisfying and exciting as well.
How was 1864 different from the films you usually work on?
It was different in the sense that I worked for almost a year instead of just a few months. It was a huge project culminating in a ten-hour TV series and a feature film. There are some newly made uniforms at the museum in Dybbøl, but we had to make around 700 new uniforms. And it’s not just about uniforms: we also needed accessories such as bread bags, ammunition bags, and a lot of other details. Everything required so much preparation – right down to the width of the little red edges on the straps of the uniforms, buttons and belts. Designing uniforms is an exact science, but not even the experts could answer all our questions, so we had to do some intelligent guesswork. In the TV series we need to see the soldiers in all sorts of situations, including in their underwear. We had to draw conclusions from how clothing generally looked at the time. And then there were the German uniforms. German soldiers from different cities had different uniforms, which didn’t make our job any easier. We cut the German regiments in the TV series down to two and we did the same with the Danish
soldiers. We had to draw a line somewhere, not only for budget reasons but also to make things easier for our dressers who had to dress a few hundred extras on the set.
Did your own work change because of the magnitude of the project?
I was less involved in the details of everyday shooting than I would normally be on an average Danish film, where I can be seen polishing shoes and stuff like that. On 1864 I had to travel a lot to make sure we were keeping up with the schedule at all times. We always worked with the knowledge that small errors would have a lot of impact. In the biggest scenes we had as many as 600 extras, and they were then digitally multiplied into thousands in the final version of the film, which meant that any error would also be multiplied. The extras were fine, and they looked amazing, but not all of them paid attention to instructions, and that made it hard to keep track of them. In a big scene with a lot of extras one of the soldiers had taken his cap off, and there wasn’t enough time to reshoot the scene with that many extras. We had to put the cap back on digitally. »
MANON WEARS T-SHIRT INWEAR BLAZER MI-NO-RO PANTS INWEAR SHOES SHOESHIBAR
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» Female actors are generally more interested in costumes than men, but they can also be more difficult to work with because they have their own fixed ideas about clothes and many women also see themselves in sizes that are actually too small for them. «
How and where were the uniforms made?
I insisted that the uniforms should be made from the right kind of wool. You might think we could find some cheaper synthetic fabric in the right colours, but solutions like that don’t work when you have to see the men in battle. You’d soon spot that something was wrong when the soldiers get wet or bloody, or when they walk through the snow or the burning heat. It was too expensive to have the uniforms made in Denmark, and we considered different options such as India. But we decided that was too far away in terms of logistics, and we eventually chose Poland. There’s also a huge amount of civilian clothing in the TV series. We owned the soldiers’ uniforms, but the others were rented, and it was important that each of them arrived on time – usually a week before we were to use them because of the actors’ dress rehearsals – and then we had to send them back again once they’d been used. We rented costumes in England, Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Managing the uniforms must have been quite a challenge!
It certainly was. On a day with a very long schedule we shot a big fight scene with all the Danish and German soldiers. They all got really filthy rolling around in blood and mud. Next morning we were to shoot a scene where the soldiers were marching calmly towards the battle in brand new clean uniforms…and we only had one set of uniforms. So I had to have a team of 20 assistants work all night cleaning and drying the clothes ready for shooting the next day.
What did you do with the uniforms once the shooting was finished?
We kept 50 Danish and 25 German uniforms. The rest were sold back to the guy in Poland who made them. He has a costume rental business. He rents out for films such as Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. I imagine he’ll remodel most of them, since there probably won’t be a need to show the Danish army in 1864 on such a large scale again in the near future. The uniforms we kept are being used for various exhibitions and public relations activities. Some of them are on display at Danfoss in Sønderborg.
A substantial part of your career has been centered on Lars von Trier. What’s it like working with him?
He goes into great detail with the costumes but in his own way. He doesn’t attend dress rehearsals like other directors do, but he has strong opinions about what he wants. I usually present three costume options for each part, and Lars chooses one of them. We have lots of jokes about him thinking I’m manipulating him into choosing the costume I like the most. That’s the way it is with Lars. We have a cheerful and lively time working together.
What was it like working on his latest movie Nymphomaniac?
Maybe Nymphomaniac doesn’t immediately seem to be a film heavy on costumes, but it’s set in the 1960s and 1970s as well as the present. Actually, it’s harder to create costumes for a movie that jumps three or five
years at a time, rather than a film set in just one time period. Gradual change is harder to deal with, because you have to make the changes easy for the public to see without going overboard. It’ll be easier to tell the difference between the 1990s and the present 20 years from now than it is today.
Is Lars von Trier the top priority if you get two conflicting offers?
Yes, he is. Just after we made Breaking the Waves we were set to prepare for Dancer in the Dark and I received a call from Hollywood. Nicolas Cage was making a movie set in the 1920s. If I’d said no to Lars I strongly suspect our cooperation would have stopped right there. He might have been glad I’d got the offer, but he’d also have been really annoyed if I had said no to him. He’s definitely my first priority. Lars deserves a great deal of credit for my career because I have been allowed to do a lot of amazing things with him, and I hope we’ll be able to do a lot more together. It’s because of him that my name is known in Hollywood and around the international film industry. For A Royal Affair I got a Satellite Award from the American press, and that was the year Anna Karenina and Lincoln were in competition. I was also runner up in the Oscars: I was one of the bookmakers’ favourites in certain parts of the competition.
What’s been the most fun job with Lars von Trier?
He’s generally fun to work with. People outside the film business thinks he’s a maniac, but he’s actually
sweet and caring. He was an angry young man in the beginning, but he’s not that young and not that angry anymore. He has a closer relationship with the actors than he had in the past. All the actors love him. Uma Thurman, who joined the Nymphomaniac cast quite late, became really fond of him, as did a lot of foreign actors. They sense he sees them in a different way from most directors. We laughed so much while we were shooting Nymphomaniac! Because of all the naked bodies we were constantly caught up in absurd situations. For example Lars literally fell asleep during the scene when two black men had to get into bed with Charlotte Gainsbourg—it just shows how boring porno really is. I laughed a lot with makeup artist Dennis Knudsen, who had to make false pubic hair for all the young women in the film because not many women today have hair in the kind of places we required. It was completely ludicrous. I have never laughed so much on a movie set.
What do you generally use for research?
I always spend a lot of time looking in books and magazines. It depends on what time period we’re researching. If it’s the seventeenth century we go for paintings, period texts and books. If we have to travel back to the 1930s and 1940s we tend to use magazines. Mail order catalogues are also a great idea because they provide a good overview of what kind of clothes people used to wear. I now have a large archive of books because I’ve made so many movies.
Are there any rules of thumb for your budget
on a movie or do you fight for it every time?
It varies from film to film, but I’m always in on the calculations and estimations. My big advantage is that I have a very large costume warehouse where I rent out costumes for the films that I do myself and also other films. For example, I recently provided costumes for Itsi - Bitsi by Ole Christian Madsen, about the rock musician and poet EikSkaløe. The film takes place between 1962 and 1969, and we move from the days of beatniks to the days of the hippies. We mainly did it using clothes from my costume warehouse.
Can you tell us a bit more about your costume stock?
It’s located in the old television building in Gladsaxe where Denmarks Radio once stored their costumes, and it is brilliantly decorated with huge electric cabinets three storeys high. Simply by pressing a button the cabinets slide to one side and new cabinets appear. It’s really the best place imaginable for costumes. There are original period clothes from the 19th century, all arranged according to the type of garment: jackets, pants, dresses and so on. One of the latest films that rented a lot of the costumes was Per Flys’ Monica Z about Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund. I dare not guess how many pieces of clothing there are—probably well over 10,000. After the failures of TV series like Gøngehøvdingen and Bryggeren the interest in period films disappeared, but it has come back now, and I think it has to do with all our efforts in making A Royal Affair.
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Mads Mikkelsen in A Royal Affair. Photography Jiri Hanzl/Zentropa
How do you avoid an image of a certain period becoming too rigid?
First of all you have to find accurate period costume, but there must be something contemporary about the way they are worn, otherwise there’s a risk that the audience will distance themselves from them. It’s always possible to put the costumes or the hair on the actors so that they are attractive to modern eyes. On A Royal Affair we were afraid to use too many white wigs. The actors all had to wear britches, but we made Mads Mikkelsen’s britches black instead of white, to make him more of a tough guy. We also chose a ponytail for him and no white wig, which made him a little sexier. In 1864 the young guys in uniforms and trousers, braces and shirtsleeves look really good – so good it could become a fashion trend.
Which actor you’ve worked with has been the most interested in costumes?
Mads Mikkelsen is always very interested in the kind of clothes he has to wear. He knows exactly when the clothes help him get into character, for example in Flame and Citron with his brown suit and halflength coat. Female actors are generally more interested in costumes than men, but they can also be more difficult to work with because they have their own fixed ideas about clothes and many women also see themselves in sizes that are actually too small for them!
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» I could think of many examples, but seeing Mikkel Boe Følsgaard for the first time at the drama school was one of those rare moments. I knew that he was one of a kind. «
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MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
SARAH SOFIE BOUSSNINA
THE CLOWN (TBC) UNDER SANDET (2015) SOMMEREN ’92 (2015)
WULFF (2015) LANG HISTORIE KORT (2015) ALL INCLUSIVE (2014)
COMEBACK (TBC) 1864 (2014) FASANDRÆBERNE (2014)
APRIL 9TH (TBC) I DINE HÆNDER (2014) NÅR DYRENE DRØMMER (2014)
Anne Lindberg Today, Danish movies and TV shows are very much in the limelight, and Danish directors are known all over the world for their work. Now, a new generation of actors is conquering the movie business, following in Mads Mikkelson's footsteps. They are represented by Anne Lindberg, an agent with a unique vision and a sharp eye for talent. We were lucky enough to talk to her about her work By Virgil Barragan Photography Nikolaj Møller
You’ve had a pretty amazing career. Can you fill us in on the background?
I started in the freight forwarding business years ago. I worked in logistics and was the only woman in a very male-dominated world. I had to deal with 100 trailers a week filled with various goods travelling to and from Italy. My work involved buying and selling loads, and you needed an incredible amount of energy to keep up and compete with other companies to get the best deals. It was a really tough environment, and there was no place for emotions at all. After 12 years in the freight forwarding business I was asked to join the FC Copenhagen football club in 2000, working with sponsors and developing their merchandise. At the same time I joined Super16, which is an independent film school founded in 1999. There were sixteen creatives – eight producers and eight directors. We asked well-established producers, directors, scriptwriters and so on to speak on various topics without any fees involved, and I don’t think anyone ever turned us down. It was fantastic and we were very fortunate to have the best creatives supporting us, together with NordiskFilm and other film companies that helped us out in the beginning. Today more than a hundred creatives have graduated from Super16.
Managing actors is now the focus of your work, and the Danish success story has really put you in the limelight…
I started working in an actor management company in 2001 and got to work with some great people. But in 2006 I left because of the amount of work and stress involved. After a month in France feeling miserable because I missed the people I worked with, I had a phone call from Danish actor Nicolas Bro who told me to come back to Denmark so that we could start our own management company. He and a couple of other actors had even decided on a name for the company—Lindberg Management. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do, but at the same time I was so grateful and happy: they were like family to me. I went back to Denmark and met with Nicolas Bro, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Jakob Cedergren and David Dencik. I decided to go ahead, and I started in my onebedroom apartment. That was eight years ago and I can really say that those four guys changed my life. It’s why I have a four-leaf clover as my company logo…
Since the beginning in 2007 I’ve worked with a lot of fantastic actors, and in 2010 we started working with scriptwriters and directors as well. As well as Danish clients, we work with talents from Norway, Sweden, Germany and Poland.
How do you go about spotting new talent? Can you give us an example?
Discovering talent isn’t always easy, and it can happen in many ways, but every single time, it’s about the energy surrounding the person. It’s their charisma that really makes an impact on me. There are so many great actors and actresses, but when I look at a face and I don’t feel anything within the first two to three minutes I have difficulty staying interested. You want to feel something, to see if they have any secrets hidden in their faces and stories they want to tell. It’s also important to think about a possible PR strategy for that person. I could think of many examples, but seeing Mikkel Boe Følsgaard for the first time at the drama school was one of those rare moments. Suddenly everything became very silent in my head: I didn’t hear what they were saying on stage, I just watched his eyes and his face changing and instantly I knew that he was one of a kind.
How would you define your relationship with the actors and directors you work with?
Being a manager or agent is a very close two-way relationship, so loyalty and honesty are very important. I’m there to try and provide actors with the best opportunities, and to try to create the right circumstances so that they can achieve their goals. It’s also vital to be aware of projects under development, so that you can communicate with the producer or director on the actors you think might be valuable for them to take a look at. I love strategy talks with my clients: it’s great to hear about their dreams, and even greater to help them achieve them.
How do you build up an international presence?
It’s obviously harder if you’re looking at projects abroad, and that’s why you need a strong international network. You need to keep abreast of what’s going on, not only in Denmark and Scandinavia, but also internationally. For the past 5 years I’ve worked very
hard to build an international network that will allow me to develop my activity outside Denmark. We’ve been focusing on The States and England to get our actors working abroad. It’s really challenging – attending almost every top festival, visiting agents, managers, production companies and casting directors in LA, and so on… not forgetting the studios in Hollywood. Since 2006 we’ve been attending the Berlin Film Festival where they’ve created “Shooting Stars” – an award for upcoming talents in Europe. It’s a great thing and very valuable PR for the actors. We have had more than 11 Shooting Stars since it started. This year (2014) Danica Curcic from Denmark and Jakob Oftebro from Norway were Shooting Stars. Previously we had Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and David Dencik.
Can you give us some examples of movies and actors that have had an impact on your vision?
Il Postino is a great film, and it really demonstrates the art of acting. Massimo Troisi has sublime acting skills and his facial expressions are amazing. That kind of acting inspires me and reminds me that I’m doing what I love. Recent films that have inspired me are All That Matters is Past with David Dencik and Maria Bonnevie, and Force Majeure, which stars the upcoming actress Lisa Loven as a mother whose husband battles with being a modern man and the expectations that people have of him. The Keeper of Lost Causes starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas as a criminal detective is a great Nordic Noir film. The mood and the acting are incredible. The script immediately caught my attention and I just knew that it was going to be a great film. In A Royal Affair you also see some amazing acting from Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, who plays the crazy king. He got a Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival for that performance. It also seems to me that as a famous actor you have a certain responsibility because you’re a public face and because your voice is heard and valued by a lot of people. Many actors today are making a difference by going into charity projects or making TV series or films that say important things about the environment, dealing with human relationships, and so on – I really respect that
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SIMONE GRAU RONEY
THE ASSETS (2014) NYMPHOMANIAC (2013) THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO (2011) MELANCHOLIA (2011) ANTICHRIST (2009) MANDERLAY (2005) DOGVILLE (2003) DANCER IN THE DARK (2000) BREAKING THE WAVES (1996) EUROPA (1991)
Simone Grau Roney Simone Grau Roney has dedicated her cinematographic craft to creating the visual codes that make up the unique storytelling behind Lars Von Trier’s filmography, bringing his narrative to life By Marsha Brady Photography Charlotte Eugenié Stylist Denise Wilke Juhl
FO R TH I S I NTE RV I E W A BOUT the creative process,
the CIFF Gazette has found the perfect match. Marsha Brady, Creative Director for the fashion brand American Apparel based in Los Angeles, interviews Simone Grau Roney, known for her work with film director Lars von Trier.
Marsha Brady: Tell me about your relationship to the colour red. I’ve noticed that there isn’t much of it in your work. Sometimes I see shades of burgundy, but that’s rare.
Simone Grau Roney: I’m not so much into red or bright colours! Bright colours are OK in my private life but in my work I don’t like them.
I think red is in its own emotional category for people like us. I occasionally wear red, and I have used it as an accent in my store design. But if you came over to my apartment you’d find its almost entirely cool tones. Why do you think you avoid red in your work?
I think it’s because I want to control how colour looks. If there are a lot of colours that are bright or sticking
out in the set that I’m doing, then it will connect to a lot of the bright colours that are out there in real life. I seek to bring these kinds of colours down and work in more neutral palettes. Sometimes, production design can take over the film or the story or the character, but I don’t want that to happen. Colour should be a background against which a strong character and story can develop. Lars and I agree on this: he doesn’t like bright colours either. But I’ve seen films where production designers have used a palette heavy with red and bright colours, and I think it can be beautiful. I think production design should help support the story of the film and help create the form of this very visual medium. I think all stories benefit from having a visual form – even documentary.
Me too. My mother is Peruvian and my father is a painter so our home was full of bright Andean textiles and thousands of tubes of paint. Our floor was covered in a deep red carpet and our furniture was covered in multi-coloured abstract Jack Lenor Larsen
velvet. I guess it’s not surprising that I have an emotional relationship to colour and ended up working in textiles. Do you think you developed your feelings about colours and textures when you were young? Tell me about some of the memories, environments and materials that you think may have helped shape your aesthetic.
I certainly developed my sense of colour, texture and shape in my early life, and then turned all that into a great working tool. I always work with a combination of colour, texture and shape. I grew up in the countryside, with animals. One of my big influences comes from nature’s simplicity and beauty: the smell of haystacks, a small meandering stream with grass growing beside it, the patina and texture of my horses’ saddles and harnesses, the shape of rhubarb leaves when they unfold, the beautiful green colours of the trees in springtime and the different shapes of their leaves. At my mother’s place we lived by a lake and we spent time sailing and fishing; I remember the beautiful light on the water, the sails in the wind, and the little fish we caught.
P R O D U C T I O N D E S I G N E R , S E T D E C O R AT O R A N D A R T D I R E C T O R
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SIMONE WEARS BLAZER AND PANTS GANNI
I was outdoors most of the time until high school. I worked a lot with my hands, carving things, making fires, grooming horses and taking care of all the other animals. I remember doing a book of pressed flowers, I really worked hard on it and studied the plants in a gardening book. When we did Nymphomaniac, I had to make one just like it, a herbarium for Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
I loved that book. What other kinds of things, colours, and smells do you remember from your youth?
The walls of my home were covered with old handpainted and enamelled plates and signs, some of them well crafted, some of them just funny. My father collected them. We had old signs hanging from the ceiling—hands, shoes, and clocks from barber’s shops, bakeries and so on. There was a lot of colour, but it was all pretty muted and dark. Today I either want very high quality handicrafts or fun things that represent easy living (for example I can bring a plastic basket home from Thailand because it’s the perfect
shade of salmon pink and has a funny pattern). We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of freedom and had all kinds of different projects, both alone and with our parents. My father did posters for Tivoli and had a wonderful drawing office and a small silkscreen studio where all the creative people from Tivoli were working. We used to hang out there a lot, or in the Tivoli amusement park. I remember the posters drying, all very graphic and humorous and with a great mix of colours. I remember the sound and the smell when he did the posters on the silkscreens: he did two or three posters a week. I loved hanging out in the park, and I still love its colours and the circus atmosphere. At that time everybody knew each other and my father often put us on the rollercoaster for a couple of hours when he had a meeting or whatever. My sister and I sat there reading magazines and books, just going round and round. At the commune where my mother lived they were kind of hippies, and they lived with very strong colours like orange, yellow, red and turquoise and patterns from India, Peru and so on. I still have
difficulties with these colours and patterns. It’s all too messy and bright for me. I do sometimes use a pattern like that, but only as a small accent to give a clean set a different twist.
Imagine there’s a screenplay and you are the main character in it. How would you present yourself, your props, your styling, and your home? What are the possessions that you would definitely have to include, and why?
My keyword would be simplicity, but not in a cold, impersonal way. I would choose quality furniture with a nice patina and texture, in a muted colour scheme using blue, olive green, light wood, a mix of old and new, all very personal and worn. Lighting is really important, so all the lamps would have the same kind of look: green, beige, pale yellow. A combination of classic Scandinavian design and beautiful glass lamp bases with Thai silk shades in soft colours. There would be some bric-à-brac, some good quality stoneware in organic shapes, small casually »
54 THE CIFF GAZETTE arranged collections mixed with wooden objects made by the kids at school, some marble eggs, stones from the beach, and so on. There would also be a few items from my father’s collections of strange things hanging from the ceiling and a huge green shoe on the floor. I have three kids, so there’d also be children’s stuff scattered around. It would all look very lived-in, but the style would show you that everything has been chosen. All the art on the walls would be very simple and graphic. My styling would be casual, jeans, a casual shirt or sweatshirt, all simple but good quality, hair tied back, simple but personal jewellery from Line & Jo or Stine A combined with antique pieces. It’s a look that can work both while I’m working and in a meeting. All my personal belongings such as bags, my computer cover, my key ring, my notebook and so on would be good quality, worn black leather. My possessions would be lamps. I love lamps – I bought four hundred of them some years ago from an old factory, I just couldn’t resist the quality and the shapes and colours. And my family, if that’s a possession! I’m someone who has a personal style that’s influenced by new stuff. I often see influences before they arrive, and that’s naturally reflected in the stuff I am surrounded with. I don't spend a lot of time on it: it’s just natural to have things around you that are comfortable and beautiful. I must admit that I am quite sensitive to hotel rooms, rented apartments and so on. I often have to remove art pieces or cover up furniture to feel comfortable. It really bothers me—it seems stupid but I can't help it.
Can you tell me about your approach to preproduction and research?
I read a lot and look at pictures in books: often documentary stuff. I look to real life for inspiration. I read the script carefully to get a feeling for the characters and settings, then I start to make boards with colour palettes and textures for the look of each set. I often put in pictures of actual pieces of furniture and so on, because I have pretty fixed ideas about how things should look. This also makes it easier for my crew to understand the ideas. Then I do a breakdown of the script with all of these sets, which helps me to see what the most important set in the film is. I make some sets simpler so that I can put more time, energy and money into the key sets. I do a breakdown budget together with my crew to see what’s possible and where I want to spend money, and I make a lot of lists of what the sets should include.
SIMONE GRAU RONEY
I don’t think about it in that way. I try to understand what kind of person they are, where they come from, what they’re interested in and so on. I think about how they would live and then I work from there. It comes quite easily. Of course it depends on the film and the director, but this is usually my approach.
You make it look easy. One of the most powerful things about Von Trier's films is that they’re more about internal character than about surroundings. They aren't journeys to a specific country, place or moment in time— they’re more like journeys into the soul. But then you create the places from which they spring. Your settings are part of the emotional explanation for what’s happening.
That’s true: I think really hard about what kind of person I think the character is and which colours and textures match their personality. I think I nail it down quite quickly. This is especially important with a character like Seligman/Stellan Skarsgaard in Nymphomaniac, because his place is used for the storytelling. There are so many scenes where Joe, the lead character played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, acts in dif-
» I think it’s very important to have a female dimension in the creative world, and yet women still have a harder time getting their stuff produced. It’s still harder for women to win the trust of investors, producers and so on, which is both stupid and unfair, and it’s not good for developing the industry. «
I think people would say that I’m very organized, but I feel quite creative when I do all this breaking down, and it gives me a better understanding of the script and the film, and a very good base to work from when I discuss the look of the film with the director and so on.
ferent sets, so we need to come back to Seligman’s place and feel safe. We also need to be interested in what the place looks like. So Lars and I worked hard on how it should look and how to make it both realistic and interesting. Half of the film takes place in this monk’s cell/Seligman’s flat, so it needed some interesting walls and backgrounds without distracting us from the key props of the story or from Joe & Seligman talking.
How do you work on the look of your locations?
What annoys Lars the most about filmmaking?
So I guess you’re incredibly organized?
With Lars, I look at his pre-selected pictures, because they’re often a big influence on his films. For example, Nymphomaniac is supposed to take place in the UK and we shot in Germany and Belgium, so we could have decided to put in a lot of typically British imagery like police uniforms and red telephone boxes. But personally I hate this way of saying “now we’re in London” because it’s irrelevant to the story. We just wanted to set it in a neutral environment. So I did some research on how certain things look in the UK, for example alleyways. I researched different kinds of brick walls, their colour and their texture, to find out how they should look.
Do your feelings about the characters make a difference? For example: a likable character versus a more neutral character or a character that you hate? Do those feelings make one more stimulating or exciting to work on than another?
Lars hates continuity! Actually sometimes I don’t care for it either, but there are times I think it’s important, and Lars is like “Who invented continuity?”
So he likes breaking the rules?
Lars says that there are too many rules about how you should make a film. You have to do an over-shoulder, you have to do a full shot, you do this and that and take the character’s clothes off, and you put it all together and boom, you’ve got yourself a movie. He broke away from that, and he broke that kind of rule because he thinks it’s stupid and he doesn’t shoot like that. When we did Melancholia he was shooting all over the place and I just said to the actors “we’ll get used to it, that's how it’s gonna be. You just relax, you’ll see.” Two days into the shoot, Kiefer Sutherland came to me and said “This is so much fun!”
What has been your experience working with other directors?
I worked as standby art director with David Fincher on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – now there’s someone who cares about continuity! He’s very concentrated and organized, everything is planned, and there’s no improvising. It’s different, but I enjoyed the concentration and focus and learned something new. I also worked with Thomas Vinterberg on Its All About Love, and on one of his first short films, The Boy Who Walked Backwards. He’s very calm and easy-going, and focuses on the story and characters. Recently I did a US television series for ABC, The Assets, in Lithuania as a set decorator. I worked with five very different directors, including Jeff Thomas and Peter Medak. Directors are all different: it’s important to listen to them and understand them—it’s their film, and you’re there to support that in different ways.
What do you think most surprises people from outside the industry about what you do?
What surprises people is the logistics behind shooting and producing a film. It takes a heck of a lot of planning and logistics to do a movie. Here’s an example: Lars had written 80 different kinds of sets for Nymphomaniac, and I just knew that wasn’t going to be humanly possible. So I asked him, “Do you have any idea what you’ve written?” and he was like “Why did I do that? Why didn’t anybody stop me?” We ended up narrowing it down to around 40 sets, but still preserving the wonderful script.
Have you ever had to juggle other
P R O D U C T I O N D E S I G N E R , S E T D E C O R AT O R A N D A R T D I R E C T O R
responsibilities during productions?
In Scandinavia crews are quite small, so I often do different things to make the art department work run as smoothly as possible. On Lars’s films I’m always there on set or when we’re filming, and I also do standby (taking care of the look of the set, the props and so on). It’s a deal we have: he wants me there, and I love doing it.
I think having multiple duties comes with most creative jobs, simply because making ideas into reality involves such a huge amount of work.
The fact that I’ve always done different jobs in the art department has been really important for me in my career and the way I’ve grown in the industry. I think a lot of people in film specialize in one specific thing, like becoming a set decorator, an art director or a production designer, and they stick to it. I’m not like that at all. I’ve done a lot of different jobs in the art department over the years, and that’s given me an insight into how to do things differently and a perspective on how to create sets and use planning and budgeting as creative tools. I’m lucky enough to have known Lars since the beginning of his career, but I’m also pretty brave, and I’ve been smart and open enough to take on jobs where I can be challenged, learn something, and have fun. When I choose a film, I don’t look at whether I’m going to be production designer, art director or set decorator. I focus on the project itself, the director, the director of photography and the script, and of course
the people I am working with. It’s so important to be around good people.
There’s something unique that binds our careers: both of us work for men who are notorious in media, who are most comfortable working with a core group of creative women they have known and worked with for years. How important do you think it is to have a female perspective in a male-dominated creative world?
That’s a difficult question, with many different answers depending on who you are and where you are. First of all Lars Von Trier likes working with the same group of people for years, both men and women, and it’s their skills and personalities that make this teamwork so successful and enjoyable. In all kinds of businesses, I think it’s important to have both men and women involved. But I really don't care if a person I’m working with is female or male: I’m much more into the actual person, and I believe we would be nowhere without each other. But I do believe that women have a big impact on creative products, because of their visual ideas, their talent for teamwork, and the way they see things as on-going processes. I think women tend to care about process as much as product.
Is that a double-edged sword? Or maybe a blessing in disguise?
Well sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise, because
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Key back alley set in Nymphomaniac, constructed in Germany, where Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is found by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgaard) and the storytelling begins. Photography Christian Geisnaes, Zentropa
we women also need to step up and focus on creating instead of just supporting men’s visions. I think women bring talent, patience, power, humour, and interest in teamwork. Creative products are often more rounded if women have been involved. I think women have a talent for images and connecting to different kinds of personalities, and this gives us a broader perspective. I think it’s very important to have a female dimension in the creative world, and yet women still have a harder time getting their stuff produced. It’s still harder for women to win the trust of investors, producers and so on, which is both stupid and unfair, and it’s not good for developing the industry. We need to make the most of the talented women we have.
Do you ever think about what you might like to be doing if you weren’t in production design?
I’d have loved to be a gardener! I think the reason is kind of self-explanatory: I like working with my hands and being outdoors. I love texture, I like all the set dressing, I like finding all the key props, getting the right patina, colour and so on. I like to make things look the way I want. If I was a gardener I’d be able to make all the decisions myself and nobody would be able to say “No, that’s not what I want”. I could be my own boss. But come to think of it, I think I’d be a bit lonely: I like teamwork
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WULFF (2015) LANG HISTORIE KORT « LONG STORY SHORT » (2015) ALL INCLUSIVE (2014) STILLE HJERTE « SILENT HEART » (2014) FASANDRÆBERNE « THE ABSENT ONE » (2014) LEV STÆRKT « ON THE EDGE » (2014) BROEN SEASON 2 « THE BRIDGE » (2013) WALLANDER (2013)
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PREVIOUS DANICA WEARS TANK TOP NANUSHKA JACKET KJÆR KØBENHAVN SKIRT NOISY MAY VINTAGE BOOTS MANON RASMUSSEN COSTUME COLLECTION
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THIS PAGE DANICA WEARS BOMBER JACKET INWEAR
OPPOSITE DANICA WEARS SWEATSHIRT PLEASANT BOMBER JACKET J.LINDEBERG JEANS INWEAR NECKLACE BLACK DAKINI
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PHOTOGRAPHER SARAH PIANTADOSI STYLIST YASMINE ESLAMI MAKE-UP JENNY COOMBS HAIR HALLEY BRISKER PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT SARAH LLOYD
STYLIST'S ASSISTANT DENISE WILKE JUHL DIGITAL TECH OLIVER GRENAA AGENT LINDBERG MANAGEMENT PANTONOVA SOFA BY VERNER PANTON FOR FRITZ HANSEN A/S AT KLASSIK.DK
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