Lisa Langseth • Director of Love & Anarchy
“I’m quite aware of their various degrees of ineptitude, but I love every single character”
by Jan Lumholdt
- Swedish director Lisa Langseth talks about accidentally giving birth to Netflix series Love & Anarchy, about her love of inept characters and about decent treatment for creators, not least in her home country
With three acclaimed big-screen features under her belt, most recently the English-language effort Euphoria [+see also:
film profile], Sweden’s Lisa Langseth now branches out into the television format with Love & Anarchy [+see also:
interview: Gizem Erdogan
interview: Lisa Langseth
series profile], the first Swedish Netflix series based on an original script. Ida Engvoll (A Man Called Ove [+see also:
film profile]) stars as a high-end strategy consultant whose latest assignment, bringing a time-honoured Stockholm publishing house into the digital age, turns out to be not quite the piece of cake she had first expected. The aptly titled Love & Anarchy can be seen globally from 4 November.
Cineuropa: “Love & Anarchy” happens to be the more commonly known name of the Helsinki International Film Festival, in turn inspired by a 1970s Lina Wertmüller film. Coincidence?
Lisa Langseth: Not quite. I’ve been to Helsinki with my films several times and happened to come up with the title precisely there, when we showed Euphoria. It fitted my story perfectly. I have not yet seen the Wertmüller film, though.
What made you want to explore the series format?
It was pure chance. I wrote totally on spec, on what I envisioned as a regular fiction feature, which eventually turned into an irregular and overlong fiction feature with lots of required deletion of both sub-plots and some characters. Around the same time, I met Frida Asp and Fatima Varhos from the FLX production company to discuss an entirely different project. I happened to mention my idea, and they happened to suggest a series. I pitched it to Netflix, and they were on board straight away.
As in your film Hotell [+see also:
film profile], you gather an eclectic group of people. We have the efficient consultant type, the conflict-wary CEO, the reactionary literary director, the progressive PR head, the messy young IT guy and others, who all cause different forms of unrest, in different ways. You seem to like these gatherings.
I had tremendous fun with this story. Just like Hotell, the group just drove the story forward quite effortlessly. The characters here – often inspired by the real literary world, where I have friends who’ve given me priceless input – are neither good nor bad, and I would never judge them. I’m quite aware of their various degrees of ineptitude, but I love every single character. This is generous drama.
How long did the production process take?
After Netflix got on board, it was a year and a half, including the shoot and editing, and despite a six-week hiatus in March and April; luckily, we had shot most of it already in January-February. I’ve never worked so swiftly, and it made me think even harder about the process of our film institute, where you can wait years for a green light – years you will never get back and which you will sometimes spend in vain if the project is dropped. It’s very stressful, economically and mentally.
Could you see yourself as a film consultant, trying to make a difference from the inside?
Never. I’m impatient, and I have films to make. But I’m quite vocal in the debate in print and other media. The dialogue is crucial – and far too quiet in Sweden.
Love & Anarchy is the first Swedish Netflix production since they recently signed a remuneration agreement with the Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film. How aware have you been of this process?
I haven’t followed it in any great detail. I must admit to being somewhat bad at reading the small print in contracts. But I do know these unions do groundbreaking work for creators. And in order to seal a deal with one of the colossal American corporations, you really have to know the negotiation game. That said, as a creator, I’ve sensed great respect from Netflix – more so, sometimes, than in my own neck of the woods, where I have detected some contempt for artists from time to time.
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