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"There are no experts in the field of documentary production"

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Emile Hertling Péronard • Producer


- Emile Hertling Péronard, Emerging Producer 2016 working in Denmark (Emile Péronard) and Greenland (Ánorâk Film), talks about documentary production

Emile Hertling Péronard • Producer

Emile Hertling Péronard, Emerging Producer 2016 working in Denmark (Emile Péronard) and Greenland (Ánorâk Film), talks about documentary production.

Cineuropa: What qualities should a documentary producer have these days?
Emile Hertling Péronard: 
Documentary producers enjoy the great privileges and gruelling struggles of working within a very complex and diverse trade. Every project calls for a different approach to funding, production and especially distribution, so we are all pressed hard to be innovative, flexible and open-minded. There are no experts in the field of documentary production. There are, of course, more or less experienced producers, and producers who have been more or less successful in getting more and better films out into the world. But the landscape of international documentary production today means that there, in fact, are no safe roads to follow. It also means that as documentary producers, we have to stomach the fact of never feeling completely confident in the work that we do. As a documentary producer you will have insecurities, and you will have to apply your doubts as a strong force that enables you to see each project individually, never to take your success for granted, and to remain humble towards this incredible and inspiring field that we're lucky enough to be working within. For me it takes all of the optimism I can muster to defeat the obvious pessimism that all of the above call for!

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

To what extent do you, as a producer, get involved in the creative process?
I think creativity comes in many forms, and it's impossible for me not to engage creatively in everything that I do. From the way I ride my bike to work, to the way I raise my children, or the way I develop a film project. It is extremely important for me that I identify with the films that I make, and that I have a personal motivation for putting years of effort and hard work into a project.

From that personal approach, creativity follows naturally. How I work creatively with a film depends on the projects I work on, and the directors I work with. Sometimes the initiating idea may come from me, and I'll remain very involved. At other times, I'm presented with an idea that turns me on, but isn't physically or emotionally a part of me. And in those cases it's more important to give space to the director. It's like a dance, and eventually you'll learn not to step on each other’s toes too much.

The creative process is extremely important to me, and it is the reason why I'm doing what I’m doing. I always try to make myself available to the people I work with. And to let them know what strengths I can provide to the project as a creative producer.

What projects do you have under way?
I work out of both Greenland and Denmark, and from my Copenhagen office I've been working for a while now on existentialist jazz documentary Into the Northern Light by Danish legend filmmaker Jørgen Leth which now finally seems about ripe for editing.

As for my Greenlandic production company, Ánorâk Film, I'm currently involved in two international documentary co-productions shot in Greenland: Waiting by Norwegian director Sturla Pilskog, and Aquarela by Victor Kossakovsky. In addition to that, my partner, Inuk Silis Høegh, and I are working on a series of four art films to supplement a huge land art project that Inuk is doing in Greenland.

Greenland's film industry is small and very new, and aside from my work as a producer, I'm also highly involved in the Greenlandic filmmakers association, FILM.GL. On a volunteer basis we work (extremely hard) on showcasing Greenlandic film content internationally, building frameworks for talent development and production funding in Greenland, and promoting Greenland as an exciting new location for films.

These very diverse, physically exhausting and emotionally all-encompassing areas of work make producing so rewarding to me.


Emerging Producers is a promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival.

Deadline for applications to the Emerging Producers 2017 edition is 31 March, 2016. Click here.


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