Industry Report: Produce - Coproduce...
Case study: The Frost Spanish-Norwegian co production
by Sergio Ríos Pérez
- Catalan theatre director Ferran Audí makes his first incursion on the big screen with The Frost, inspired by the "Little Eyolf" by Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen.
It is a co production between Spain (Alta Realitat and Apuntolapospo) and Norway (Frost Media Film, with the participation of Filmfondet Fuzz y SF Norway) shot in English.
The film is currently being launched and the date of the premiere will depend on which festival will present it (in Norway it will be released by SF Norway). The film is being sold internationally by DeAPlaneta.
Cineuropa met the producers Raül Perales and Amanda de Luis, from Alta Realitat, company based in Barcelona, who talked about the European co production.
Why did you decide to make the film as an international co production?
The Frost is inspired by the play "Little Eyolf" by Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen. The story of the film takes place in Norway, as well as the entire action, except for the end, where one of the secondary characters ends up in Spain.
The film was shot in Norway and Spain (Catalonia and Asturias). For artistic and location needs, the association with a Norwegian team became essential.
How did you get in contact with your two European partners?
Researching in the Norwegian region, where it was possible to carry out the shootings (location, services, ecc), we got in contact with many production companies, among those also Frost Media. For more than 25 years no one shot a film in this Norwegian region; although it is geographically considered one of the most beautiful regions.
Which advantages and inconveniences can an international co production present?
In the case of The Frost we encountered more advantages than disadvantages. The basic advantage of each co production is the mutual enrichment on a human and professional level. On this basis, some intrinsic aspects of an international co production can be seen as advantages and disadvantages at the same time, as for example the use of a common language, that is not are native one (in this case English), or the way behaviour standards are modulated according to the static clichés of a Nordic or Latin person.
The Frost is not a "euro pudding". All the decisions for the production are taken in agreement with the needs of the project: the appeal/attraction per se, that is given by the unique and exceptional verticality of this co production between North and South. And this allowed us to obtain very interesting options for regional financing.
As an inconvenient, I could mention that Norway and Spain do not use the same currency, and Norway at the time had not signed the European Convention on Cinema Co production. But this originated also advantages, for the innovation it generated.
Could you explain the different phases the production went through and how long did each one last approximately?
The decision to carry out this project was taken at the beginning of January 2006 by Raül Perales (executive producer), Ferran Audí (scriptwriter and director) and Eva Mørkeset (screenplay advisor and actress). The three knew each other since several years and had worked together in many occasions, so we can say that The Frost began for the desire of three friends to continue to work together.
The first version of the script was finished in May 2006. During the development phase, the project passed through several seminars and markets, such as the European Films Crossing Borders within the Festival of San Sebastián 2006, or the Co-production Market of Berlin in February 2007. The first body that gave financial support was the Televisió de Catalunya. Also the Norwegian bank Sparebanken Møre, based in the region chosen for the shooting, decided to support The Frost through its cultural fund. For the nature and the peculiarity of the project, the production phase started without a precise date, both in Spain as in Norway, and the agreements were closed in December 2007.
Once the project started to be financed, we decided to follow the aspects of communication and marketing through the Working at Weekend agency in Barcelona, with whom we started campaigns, as the press conference for the beginning of the shooting in Barcelona.
The production strictly speaking lasted from March to May 2008, while the postproduction went from June to November 2008. The fact of shooting with REDONE, required an elaborated editing phase. At the same time we worked on making and recording the sound track. The postproduction company Apuntolapospo, based in Barcelona, was decisive, also as a co-producer partner.
What is the total budget and how much were the investments of the different funds?
The production budget reaches 2.8 million euros. The contributions from the different funds, private and public are 74,34% (ICIC, ICAA, TVC) In Spain and 25,66% (Filmfondet Fuzz, Norwegian Film Fund, Innovation Norway, M og R Fylke, Alesund Kommune) in Norway.
Could you tell us about the financing process of the film, and in particular about the relation with the regional funds?
As the project was progressing, more funds were taking interest, and the project was gathering more interest and force. Some of the regions that supported The Frost do not have a specific fund for cinema, as the case of Asturias, in Spain, or Møre og Romsdal, the region where we did the shooting in Norway. Even though, regional funds such as ICIC (Catalonia) o Filmfondet Fuzz (Bergen), are set up and the financing processes are regulated.
Did you have any problems for the eligibility criteria of the production for the different funds and their compatibility?
Not problems, but difficulties while trying to explain the project in the same way to each regional fund, when each of them have their own interests, sometimes only to frame the turistic promotor of the region and others with the ambitious aim of production and promotion of international film. Anyway, the aim has always been to make clear that The Frost is an international coproduction: a European film, where English is the common language. In any case, there were no incompatibilities between the regional funds.
However, in some occasions and with certain relevant people we had to fight and resist the distrust and the rejection, in our territory for being beginners, as well as in Norway for being from the South and for working on a film inspired by Ibsen. On the other hand, there was always someone who thought of The Frost as a challenge, with logic and appeal.
What was the artistic and technical contribution of the countries involved?
We allocated the participation of each nationality according to the particularity of each country: the team of the direct sound recorders is Norwegian, the direction of photography Spanish, and the art and costume direction are Spanish, with the collaboration of an advising Norwegian team. The rest of the team was formed by Spanish and Norwegian.
What problems did you encounter during the shooting?
A problem, or a difficulty, is the language. English was the language we decided to use, and created all sorts of situations: some comical and funny, others disconcerting and irritating.
Another difficulty, in particular with Norway, was regarding the responsibility they were in charge with, especially those of production and shooting. It was very difficult to stipulate who was was supposed to do what, since/as the production hierarchies during the filming are not the same in the Norwegian and Spanish industry. Important roles as the direction and production's assistant, has different responsibilities in one and the other country. The direction and production teams were the ones who most felt and suffered these differences, since they were also the teams formed by both nationalities. Even so we managed to carry out all the shootings we planned...and with the good results we hoped in.