"Through limitation comes creativity"
by Annika Pham
- The ex-shipping expert who travelled across Asia for A.P. Møller started his new life and career in filmmaking in the early 1990s when he decided to join the National Film School of Denmark.
After graduating in 1997, he was employed by Nimbus Film and rapidly became one of the key in-house producers at the top independent Danish film production company. Among his various production credits is Ole Christian Madsen’s Skagerrak and Thomas Vinterberg’s It’s All About Love [+see also:
Cineuropa: How did you get involved in the film?
Lars Bredo Rahbek: I had met Pernille Fischer Christensen at the National Film School of Denmark, and she made her first acclaimed short film Habibti, My Love for Nimbus in 2002. We gradually started discussing ideas for her first feature film. With the creation of the Danish Film Institute's new fund 'New Danish Screen', we decided to go for it and she wrote specifically for it. When scriptwriter Kim Fupz Aakeson came on board, Pernille first hesitated. She has a strong vision of how the characters should be and didn’t believe at the beginning in their collaboration. But at the end it all went very well.
How did you manage to produce the film for under €1m?
The total budget was €900,000 out of which only €530,000 came from New Danish Screen (NDS). An average budget in Denmark is €2m, so we had to do it for 30% less... With Pernille, we decided the film was going to be a love story between two people who live a very lonely life in Copenhagen. We didn’t need many sub-characters. Budget-wise, we were going above the plans and I couldn’t get extra cash from the DFI. One way was to get an MG from a distributor. Nordisk Film eventually did and we started working with them. The shooting itself took place in six weeks. Everyday was a crisis and I had to fix it as we went along. I’m now proud of what we’ve achieved and of Pernille in particular. She was totally concentrated on how to express her vision on screen and have it tailor-made for the NDS. On top of that, she had a great backing from a group of people from her school days who volunteered for discount payments. At Nimbus, we worked for free to allow her to make her debut, and her film was eventually sold to more than 30 territories.
What did you learn from that experience and do you think New Danish Screen could be applied to other European territories?
The budget for A Soap [+see also:
interview: Lars Bredo Rahbek
interview: Pernille Fischer Christensen
film profile] was lower than anything I’ve ever worked on. When you work with such a tight budget, you need diplomacy and careful handling. The success of A Soap again is a testimony to Pernille’s talent. What can be said is that through limitation comes creativity. This is something I learnt at film school. I had to make a 3mn short film for DK50,000. The NDS is a low budget pool but unlike Dogme it is not a system with rules. It does provide a fantastic opportunity for new filmmakers with a vision. But they have to be well-prepared and very focused.
What other feature films are you working on?
I’m producing three new projects. The director of Mifune Søren Kragh-Jacobsen is working on the thriller In Another Time with shooting set for October. Ole Christian Madsen whose latest film Prague will be released next November, is developing Flammen og Citronen (Flame and Citron). Set in Copenhagen in 1944, it tells the story of two friends who have to kill fellow Danes during the Danish resistance. The €5,5m film based on real events is co-produced with Germany’s Wueste Film (Head-On [+see also:
film profile]) and Latvia as the film will be partly shot in Copenhagen and Riiga. Thomas Vinterberg is also busy with the shooting of his first Danish film in a few years, A Man Comes Home.