"In Denmark we re-invent ourselves all the time"
by Annika Pham
- The in-house producer at Zentropa Entertainment has made three films with Susanne Bier
The in-house producer at Zentropa Entertainment has made three films with Susanne Bier : Open Hearts [+see also:
film profile] (2002), Brothers [+see also:
film profile] (2004) and After the Wedding [+see also:
interview: Sisse Graum Jørgensen
interview: Susanne Bier
film profile] (2005). An active co-production partner of Sigma Films in the UK, with whom she produced Red Road [+see also:
film profile], Graum Jørgensen was part of Producers on the Move in 2003 and Variety's 10 Producers to Watch in 2004.
Cineuropa: How did you put together the financing for the film?
Sisse Graum Jørgensen: The financing for the €3m budget came basically out of Denmark: Zentropa, the Danish Film Institute, broadcasters DR in Denmark and SVT in Sweden and the Nordic Film & TV Fund. I also have a very special relationship with Gilliam Berry from Sigma Films in Scotland. We’ve been working together for many years and recently collaborated on Red Road. So we made After the Wedding as a Danish/UK co-production.
Now that Susanne is so popular internationally as well as domestically, do you use pre-sales to finance her movies?
After the Wedding was pre-sold to the US on the basis of the script. Susanne Bier’s next film, also co-scripted by Anders Thomas Jensen, will again be a UK co-production and the opportunities are there on the international level to finance it with pre-sales, although it’s too early to say exactly how we’ll proceed.
Do you think that the new rules in the UK for tax incentives and access to UK certification will change your co-production activities?
My relationship with Sigma is of course financial but also creative. Red Road is, in fact, a very good example, and we have another film together, part of the Advance Party Concept. With the Advance Party we have taken some of the strengths and positive experiences from Dogma, the Danish film environment, as well as from UK production and distribution, and have mixed it all together. In Denmark, film is seen as an art and we’re very focused on creating original material and on re-inventing ourselves all the time. The Ministry of Cultural supports us fully and the Danish Film Institute is run very professionally. Plus, we have the Danish Film School, which is very successful in challenging students and pushing them to fight for their personal projects. Directors, scriptwriters and producers work together and we believe very strongly in that relationship to make the films work.
How do you work with Susanne Bier?
I previously worked with her and Anders Thomas Jensen on Open Hearts and Brothers and I’m now developing a new project with them. I’m very fond of my relationship with them. I’m not the kind of producer who buys rights from a novel to adapt it, then get a scriptwriter and try to attach a filmmaker. I work from the beginning with the director and scriptwriter and do everything necessary to get things into action. I like to work on director-driven projects.
Are you currently producing other directors?
I’m very busy with two films shooting right now: Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years, the new film by Jacob Thuesen (Accused) and Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself [+see also:
film profile]) is directing a new comedy.