“The book was so good it could take us all the way through”
by Annika Pham
- The success of the debut feature produced by EFTI opened the doors to the US market for the Swedish company
Co-owner of EFTI, a groundbreaking production companies of commercials and entertainment shows in Sweden, John Nordling and his partner Carl Molinder are now concentrating their energy on a handful of original drama productions developed in-house for the domestic though mostly international market. Let the Right One In [+see also:
interview: John Nordling
interview: Tomas Alfredson
film profile] was a successful first feature film trial that opened their doors to the US market.
Cineuropa: How did you get involved in Let the Right One In?
John Nordling: I read the book three and a half years ago while on vacation in Italy. I thought it was so good that it could take our company all the way through, as far as we wanted to go. It’s a beautiful, classic, coming-of-age love story that uses horror in a unique way. I called my partner Carl and we decided to contact the publisher, who said, "You only call now…you’re the 50th person or so!"
I explained that I grew up in a suburb like the one described in the book, so I could see exactly how the film was going to look because it was my childhood. I then decided to call the writer John Ajvide Lindqvist directly and at the same time contacted Tomas Alfredson and sent him the book. He got back to us immediately and said, "Yes, I see your point. It’s a fabulous book." We all got together and felt we shared the same vision for the film. John Ajvide wrote the script himself, with the help of script consultant Dennis Magnusson.
In terms of financing, how did you convince your partners to come on board?
We first got the support from the Swedish Film Institute, through film consultant Peter Piodor Gustafsson. When you have the SFI, a best-selling book, a well-known Swedish director plus our company, also well-established as a quality trademark, the financing is not too difficult to put together. Sandrew Metronome got involved, plus regional film fund Filmpool Nord, Swedish broadcaster SVT, the company WAG, and special effects company Chimney Pot. The film’s budget was around €2.2m, which is quite high for a Swedish film.
Was it difficult to define the target audience as it is a genre film that combines first love, bullying and social realism as well?
It was obviously going to be a challenge to make a film with a 12-year-old in the lead, and a rating that would allow only 15-year-olds to see it. The film is actually rather poetic, it’s not an outright horror film. It’s pretty much an arthouse film. In Sweden, we had to market it to a mainstream audience, whereas in the US it is targeting only the arthouse audience and is doing really well. In Italy, the film will actually be released on over 100 screens! So it’s a challenge to find the right audience and different countries have chosen different routes to market it.
How do you feel about the fact that Let the Right One In is Sweden’s biggest film export in years, sold to some 50 territories?
We contacted several international agents and the project was actually turned down several times, until we signed with Bavaria International Film Sales. They saw the potential in our film and we liked them a lot. They are experts in that kind of arthouse European film and their expertise was instrumental in getting it out internationally.
What other projects are you working on?
We’re co-producing a US version of Let the Right One In with Hammer/Spitfire Pictures. The project is actually not really a remake as we’re going back to the book and making a new film. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) is currently writing the script. The US version will have a broader take on the book to reach a wider audience. We’ve also optioned the English comedy novel This is Your Life by John O’ Farrell, about an unknown, wannabe comedian catapulted into stardom without having really accomplished anything. We’re planning to relocate it to the US.
Our broader aim is to produce English-language films for an international audience, with US and European partners. With rampant Internet piracy in Sweden, it’s very difficult to recoup production costs, plus the market is very small. Let the Right One was pirated ten days after its theatrical release on October 24, so we were ourselves victims of illegal downloading.