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Head of TrustNordisk Speaks to Nordisk Film and TV Fond

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The head of TrustNordisk speaks about good looking bandits in The Salvation, US agents chasing her and tough times ahead for art-house films. Today, she is taking part in the EU panel ‘Reaching Out to a European Audience’ at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

The Salvation is screening tomorrow in Cannes as a Midnight Screening. Are you pleased with this Cannes slot?
RE: It’s very interesting. We haven’t had a film in that section before. Cannes has reacted very positively to the film and has offered us a great slot. The cast and crew will still be able to walk up the red carpet and it will create the right buzz and hype for us to sell the territories available, including the US. The Salvation is a €12m film – which is very high for Scandinavia – but it looks like a $100 million movie, production-wise. It’s a western, not the typical art-house movie, so we needed that platform in Cannes to close the MGs we’re looking for.

You must approve Nordisk Film’s decision to move up the film’s release from the autumn to May 22 in Denmark to coincide with the film’s world premiere in Cannes?
RE: 
Yes. I think it’s the right thing to do for this film. It’s an English language film that needs an international buzz around it. It seems like a good summer film as well with lots of action and good looking bandits!!

You don’t seem to have booked any screenings at the market, besides The Salvation. Why?
RE: 
That’s correct. Time-wise, we don’t have any finished films to show. Plus to do a market screening in Cannes, you have to be absolutely sure that’s the right way to do it. So we’ll focus on promo-screenings and pre-sales. We’re working on Susanne Bier’sSecond ChanceThe Shamer’s Daughter, we’re showing some scenes of Mikkel Nørgaard’s The Absent One. We will launch the film in the autumn.

You also just picked up the Norwegian dramedy Here is Harold…What attracted you in the film?
RE:
 I saw the Work in Progress in Gothenburg and the film really caught my eye. I feel it fits perfectly TrustNordisk’s line-up with its quirkiness, the dark humour à la Hans Petter Moland.

What is your overall feeling about today’s market? Is it still a buyers’market, or a seller’s market with distributors having to fill out their 2014-2015 release schedules?
RE: 
There is still a lot on the market, not only in film but also in TV drama from the Nordic countries and distributors are becoming more selective. The momentum on Nordic films and TV drama means as well that the world is becoming smaller. Suddenly you don’t have 10,000km to the US when it comes to TV series; US professionals use their formats and want to combine them with Nordic talents, creators and producers. That’s a new thing. It will be interesting to see what will happen in this field within one or two years.

So US agents play a much bigger role today in putting the pieces together and building a bridge between the US and the Nordic region….
RE:
 Definitely. I’ve never seen so many US agents in my life. I get 5-10 mails a day from them! They are very aggressive towards Nordic talent. We help them as much as we can because we see it as an opportunity for Nordic talent to travel, to do Hollywood films and then come back home. They always come back because Europe and the Nordic region is where they get the most creative freedom. That’s where the director and scriptwriter can impose their vision.

Would you be interested in getting new players like Netflix involved in pre-financing and co-production?
RE: Yes because the cake is getting smaller every day and we need to find the money somewhere. However, co-producing with companies like Netflix is a problem because they are multi-territory operators. With a VPN connection you can get access to Netflix series in the US. Then how do you still keep the exclusivity for some territories when dealing with local distributors? That’s something that needs to be resolved. But again, if Netflix pays the right amount upfront…why not??

Is the market still very polarised?
RE:
 The smaller films that did perform before, the ‘festival darlings’ do not perform at all now. Art-house cinemas are dying, multiplexes are taking over. However high quality films with sellable elements – big names, festivals – do sell and survive in multiplexes. We’re actually seeing revenues back from films such as The Hunt, A Royal Affair, Love is All You Need. Distributors are doing a great job and bringing revenues back. This new trend on bigger quality films is very positive.

So do you intend to concentrate on those €5-10 million films?
RE:
 Well it’s always about keeping a balance. Our responsibility as a major company like ours is also to pick up new talent. They might not make a blockbuster with their first or second film, but that’s part of building talent and investing in them. With other bigger films, we just want to be part of whether they are cash cows or not. It’s part of keeping the wheel going.

In terms of territories, which ones are most active?
RE
: The BRIC countries such as Russia and China are expanding fast and we see more companies coming in, interested in European content. The UK is still growing as well; Australia and Benelux are good territories for us. In Germany, there is competition for action movies, crime, but not very much for drama, besides titles with big names. The US varies. It depends on the connections you have there. For instance we’ve been dealing with Magnolia Pictures for quite some time. They believe in our films, in Nordic talent and have become a niche for our films in the US. Other US buyers don’t take too many risks and don’t pre-buy.

Any tips you’d like to give young producers in Cannes?
RE
: Be short, be precise, and know the timing when to present your project. A sales agent will always ask: how much financing is already in place. If you say we don’t have local financing or we only have 10% of financing then you have a problem. It’s so much sexier for a project not to miss that much financing and then have several sales agents interested in the project.