"Roy’s films fall out of the system"
by Annika Pham
- Pernilla Sandström has been working exclusively for the last ten years with Roy Andersson Filmproduktion. She tells Cineuropa about the difficulties of putting together the financing for his films
Cineuropa: How does it feel to have your film representing Sweden at this year’s Oscars nominations?
Pernilla Sandström: It is a real honour. I’m very glad that the jury dared to choose such a different film because You, the Living (Du levande) [+see also:
interview: Pernilla Sandström
interview: Roy Andersson
film profile] is not really the usual type of film submitted to the Academy Awards.
How is it to work with a real auteur that has a very strong vision of what he wants to make?
At the beginning, I thought I would be working in the shadow of this big filmmaker and that he would just be following his own instincts. But he actually lets you take part in his work and it’s inspiring for me. He has a vision but is understanding, gentle and open to comments.
How did you put the financing together?
There were five different countries involved in the production. Sweden's Roy Andersson Filmproduktion AB was the main producer with a 69% stake. Then there was Germany’s Thermidor Filmproduktion GmbH with 11%, France’s Société Parisienne de Production with 10%, Norway’s 4 1/2 with 5%, and Denmark’s Posthus teatret with 5%. In total we had around 17 financial partners involved.
After Songs from the Second Floor, I thought it would be much easier to put the financing together for this film, but it was still very difficult. The support systems in Europe are adjusted to a 'normal' way of shooting and making a movie, but we don’t work that way, since we don’t usually have a script at the beginning. We often fall out of the system as the rules are very narrow.
So we did have to adjust to the rules. It was hard for us because Roy needs to explore his vision in test shots before he can actually write down the essence of the film.
Was it important for you to have The Coproduction Office on board again?
Absolutely. We’ve been working with them for quite some time now. It gives a real international perspective to the production. We get different connections than the usual Nordic co-producing countries. We did some pre-sales with them such as Japan and Greece (Ama Films) who called us very early in the filmmaking process. We closed Norway as well (Oro Film), and France (Les Films du Losange).
Roy said in many interviews that he wouldn't make another feature because of the difficulties of financing his films. How does he feel now?
When you do a successful film like Songs from the Second Floor and you still have to fight to make your next movie for banal reasons such as the politics of the moment in Sweden, it’s hard work. I will see what he feels like doing next, just writing or another feature film.
What do you think of the Swedish Film Institute's current support system and do you think that the changes that are being introduced are the right ones?
There is definitely a new era. A lot is happening within Sweden’s film environment, with the internet boom, the exhibition monopoly for example. So it is important for the SFI as well to renew itself. I’m a bit worried about the fact that they want to narrow down the number of companies receiving support. That might also narrow down the artistic freedom. On the other hand, the idea to give more support to fewer films is good.