The new Copenhagen Film Fund is looking to back international film and TV projects. Wendy Mitchell talks to CEO Thomas Gammeltoft about how the fund can help lure projects to Denmark.
The new Copenhagen Film Fund, which has coffers of $6.33m (€4.7m) to spend on projects over two-and-a-half years, is very much open for business.
Chief executive Thomas Gammeltoft is at AFM this week to scout for potential investments.
The fund has already invested in three projects but is looking for a signature feature-film investment. “We are actively in search of a big project that we can throw ourselves in, for about $2m,” Gammeltoft tells Screen ahead of AFM.
Overall, the fund will invest in 10-15 projects from now until the end of 2015. He hopes the film project or projects backed by the fund will be shooting by autumn 2014.
The fund aims to back projects with international reach. “We are not investing in entirely Danish productions. We want international projects, but built with Danish talent if possible,” Gammeltoft explains.
The funding will stretch yet further if potential partners are brought on board, such as the Danish Film Institute — whose funding is separate — Swedish fund Film i Skane or funding sources from Hamburg, which have close ties to Copenhagen.
The holy grail would be for Denmark to also offer a tax incentive, which is still an elusive beast in Scandinavia. The fund is also lobbying government for a film incentive in Denmark. “We’ve had progress talking to politicians on that,” he notes.
So far, the Copenhagen Film Fund has backed three TV projects: the new series of Heartless, which will shoot in five parts starting in March 2014 (an investment of $406,000); ZDF/Nordisk/DR police series The Team, which is now shooting across Europe starring Lars Mikkelsen ($676,000); and an episode of the UK’s Midsomer Murders that shot recently in Copenhagen ($36,000).
The fund is financed with contributions from the City of Copenhagen, the Capital Region of Denmark and nine suburban municipalities (Copenhagen, Hvidovre, Ballerup, Frederiksberg, Brondby, Albertslund, Fureso, Naestved and Helsingor).
Because of the current level of funding, studios are probably unlikely to go for it, but the fund could make working in Copenhagen much more attractive to bigger independent film projects.
Funding comes in during production, and must be paid to a Denmark-based company (such as a production services company). The fund does not plan to put up more than 50% of any project’s full budget. There is no points system but a full list of terms and conditions are available at the newly launched website, cphfilmfund.com.
Gammeltoft predicts that around half of awards will go to film and half to TV projects. The funding is rolling and projects can be in any language and, in particular, he would love to see a big HBO or Netflix series hire a Scandinavian writer to create an English-language project to shoot in Copenhagen.
There are “certain criteria to fulfil” and Gammeltoft, himself a long-time producer with credits such as Stealing Rembrandt and the forthcoming Good People, works with the fund’s board to make selections. The fund’s other executive is producer Stine Spang.
There is a lot riding on the initial investments, because the fund has been a dream for a decade that was finally realised this summer and will undergo its first evaluation at the end of 2015 to see if it will be continued, or possibly expanded. “We have two-and-a-half years to prove ourselves,” he says.
“Definitely it can change the Danish industry,” he adds of the fund’s potential. “If we can succeed with this we can grow it, we can get more money for the fund… At some point in time we might be really big.”
Private investment could also come into play in the future of the fund.
Gammeltoft is keen to stress the funded projects do not have to show a rosy side Copenhagen. “Do you think The Killing shows a nice side of Denmark?” he asks with a laugh. “We don’t need postcards.”
The fund comes at a time when Danish culture is a hot export. “Denmark is booming and we want to maintain that status and show the world we’re good at what we’re doing,” Gammeltoft says.
“There’s a momentum; we need to use that and expand it.”