by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Frequently appearing on Swedish film posters, producer Frida Bargo has made a name for herself with titles such as Hotel and the multiple award-winning Drifters
Since Swedish producer Frida Bargo joined Stockholm’s B-Reel Films in 2011, her name has frequently been on the Swedish cinema posters. In 2013 her production of Swedish director Lisa Langseth’s Hotell [+see also:
film profile], starring now Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, received a Guldbagge, Sweden’s national film prize, and Swedish director Peter Grönlund’s Drifters [+see also:
film profile] won no less than five of them in 2015.
Most recently she staged Swedish actress-turned-director Pernilla August’s second feature, A Serious Game [+see also:
film profile], scripted by Danish writer-director Lone Scherfig from Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg’s 1912 classic; starring Sverrir Gudnason and Karin Franz Körlof, the love story was premiered as a Berlinale Gala at the Berlin International Film Festival.
“I have always admired August enormously as an actress, so it was obviously a special experience to watch her directing. It was fascinating. She has such a brilliant feeling for characters, and a tremendous ability to bring out the very best in her cast and crew.”
Cineuropa: How did you get into the film industry, and did you decide to produce, not direct?
Frida Bargo: I used to work as a copywriter, and I always liked shootings for commercials best. One day I quit and started to focus on film and film production on my own, and it is the best decision I have ever made. I guess I am not crazy enough to be a director (laughs), but seriously, producing suits me better, as I am very much an organiser. I love being part of the whole process, from idea to realisation, I am a team player, and it is an amazing feeling when that creative process takes off and everyone uses their own excellence to realise a common vision – the director’s.
How do you get involved in your productions?
It varies, but I like to work with directors I have a long-term relationship with. I met Langseth when she came to B-Reel Films and pitched her idea for Hotell, and Grönlund (Drifters) has been one of my closest friends for 20 years. It is all about personal chemistry; it is so incredibly intense to make films, so it is necessary to thrive together, and you just do not know until you have tried it. Humour is a crucial parameter – if you can laugh together, it means you have common references in life and often can find successful ways to collaborate. “I want to make films that one can’t help but discuss afterwards, that say something about the times we live in. I prefer to work with directors who have a unique voice and something exciting to tell.
Which film do you consider your greatest achievement?
It is hard to choose, because I am proud of all of the films I have made, in different ways. Grönlund’s Drifters was very special – the budget was very low, it was a first-time director with a 90% amateur cast, working with a very current subject. We got such an amazing response – the film won five Guldbagges, both critics and audiences loved it. That was an amazing journey.
What has been your biggest challenge during a production?
Being a producer means helping the director get their priorities right, and to put money, time, resources in the right places. To know if you’ve made the right decisions – especially in large projects when shooting period or foreign recordings – is a challenge every time.
What do you think you are particularly good at in film production?
I like to consider the distinctive character of a production and find tailor-made solutions for it – the best financing, the right team. I always like to be involved very early in the development stage, which often creates trustworthy relationship with the director. I am obsessed with the process of making film, and I am interested in all parts of it – I look at myself as a creative producer. Still, sometimes you end up in situations that feel both scary and hopeless; then I used to tell myself: 1) you will survive (laughs), 2) you have learned something new.
Are there any producers or directors you really admire?
I admire everyone who dares to follow his or her own dreams or inner beliefs, even if they may not be the most convenient or most commercial choices. Simply because that stands for real passion – and passion is cool.
What are your most imminent upcoming projects?
”Right now I am preparing to shoot Langseth’s new feature Euphoria, an international co-production with Sweden, the UK and Germany, and I am also working on Grönlund’s next film, which we plan on filming next year. I think they are currently two of the most interesting auteurs in Scandinavia.
For the first time I will be producing two, different television series and it is exciting with productions that are more than feature-length. Finally, I am developing a Swedish comedy, written by Klara Zimmergren for Jens Sjögren to direct, with a deep and serious theme, so it will be really touching.
What do you hope to get out of Producers on the Move at Cannes?
I’m looking forward to broadening my network and I hope to meet a lot of talented and interesting colleagues to exchange experiences and have intriguing conversations with.