by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Cineuropa met up with Denmark's Producer on the Move, Eva Jakobsen, of Nimbus Film, to discuss what sparked off her interest in producing and what is next up on her agenda
Danish producer Eva Jakobsen became an immediate friend of the Robert, the Danish Film Academy’s annual award: in 2012, her production of Danish director Mads Brügger’s The Ambassador won for Best Documentary, and this year, her efforts with Danish director Ask Hasselbalch’s Antboy collected two, including Best Feature for Children and Youth Audiences.
“A willingness to take risks is fundamental to a producer,” said Jakobsen, who accompanied Brügger on a precarious balancing act in the exposé of corruption in the war-torn Central African Republic.
After university, Jakobsen worked at Zentropa Entertainments on, among others, Danish directors Lars von Trier's The Boss of It All [+see also:
film profile] (2006) and Omar Shargawi's Go With Peace Jamil [+see also:
interview: Meta Louise Foldager
interview: Omar Shargawi
film profile] (2008). In 2008, she left for Nimbus Film, where her first assignment was to be assistant producer on Nicolas Winding Refn’sValhalla Rising [+see also:
interview: Nicolas Winding Refn
film profile] (2009).
Cineuropa: Originally, what sparked your interest in cinema and producing?
Eva Jakobsen: When I was five, my parents took me to the neighbouring town of Vejle to watch Steven Spielberg’s ET. It was my first time in a cinema, and I was blown away. I guess you could say that experience sparked my affection for cinema. After finishing film and media at university in Copenhagen, I knew I was more attracted to making films than studying them. My years as a trainee at Zentropa made me aware of how a producer works, and all of a sudden I was hooked. It totally changed and sharpened my focus.
I have a particular fondness of the development process, including when you instigate a project, create the story, shape the vision and devise a strategy with the writer-director. You cannot be an expert in everything, so a crucial talent for a producer is to be able to find the right allies to help you to do the job in the best possible way. I always trust my instinct when it comes to choosing productions and partners.
What else did you learn from your years at Zentropa?
The value of hard work, dedication and independent thinking; keeping cool with a lot of hot tempers around you; and appreciating that in a creative working environment, there is not a single day like any other. Every day, a lot of wild ideas and progressive thinking came up, which was very inspiring.
As a producer, where did you face your biggest challenges?
Filmmaking almost always involves a certain level of drama, conflict and obstacles, as you are working with passionate people, big crews, and trying to make ambitions and budgets match. But the experience with The Ambassador was totally different. I was the production manager of the film, but role-playing was an essential part of the concept, so while staying in character and acting, I had to make sure that the film was actually being made and provide the necessary means for the production. It was quite schizophrenic – Brügger is both fearless and brilliant, but all the time I was terrified that someone would be onto us.
Your Antboy became a local and international success – why?
Twelve-year-old superheroes are rare on the screen, and we had a great series of children’s books by Kenneth Bøgh Andersen, which was already a success in Denmark. Both writer Anders Ølholm and director Ask Hasselbalch are avid superhero and film buffs, so we had the right talent and dedication for the story and the universe. Antboy transposes the superhero genre to a Danish context and storytelling tradition. Since we did not have Hollywood budgets, we could not indulge in the same level of special effects and action sequences; but this forced us to get to the very core and create a strong, universal story that children can relate to, which apparently also created an attraction and crossover appeal in the international market.
What is on now – and what is next on your agenda?
We are currently in post-production with the sequel to Antboy, which is a co-production with Germany – Antboy II: Revenge of the Red Fury will be domestically released on 25 December. I have a bunch of interesting and very different projects in development with directors such as Ask Hasselbalch, Katrin Gebbe, and the writer-director team of Rasmus Birch and Jonas Alexander Arnby, whose first film, When Animals Dream [+see also:
interview: Jonas Alexander Arnby
film profile], was selected for this year's Critics' Week at Cannes. And I am working on upcoming feature debuts from new talents including Mads Hemmingsen, Marianne Blicher and Lærke Lauta.