Meta Louise Foldager has succeeded Vibeke Windelov as Lars von Trier’s producer and explains the challenges she faced to Jacob Wendt Jensen.
A little more than three years ago, Danish producing legend Vibeke Windelov decided to try something new after working as Lars von Trier’s producer since the mid-1990s. At that point 34-year-old Meta Louise Foldager, who was producer with Windelov on The Boss Of It All, was handed the opportunity to step into her shoes. She leapt at the chance.
When the trailer of Antichrist went online in April, the Zentropa web page had 130,000 hits in the first day.
Meta Louise Foldager
Foldager had been determined to succeed in the film business since the age of 11, and looked up to Windelov. She quickly became a fixture at Zentropa, the production powerhouse which Trier spearheads with Peter Aalbaek Jensen, and has produced nine feature films, a TV series and a string of shorts in the last five years.
“I was honoured to have the gold dust of Lars von Trier sprinkled on me at the age of 31, especially since I had only produced two films at the time,” says Foldager, who is taking her first summer holiday in five years after Cannes.
Trier’s Antichrist, a horror film about a grieving couple in a forest cabin, which plays in Competition at Cannes, was perhaps more challenging than most films. Trier himself was coming out of a depression which had hit him badly three years ago — “I couldn’t imagine ever making another film again,” he says — and Foldager was dealing with a budget of $10m, which was her biggest to date.
“When a director swings between being normal and having a really bad time, you have always got to have solutions lined up for a bad day,” she says. “He was like a man trying to climb a mountain with two broken legs. He could do it but it took more time than usual. I put out a safety net under Lars with options to change the schedule and take the load off the director if necessary.
“It took some extra precautions, arrangements and negotiations with the insurance companies,” she continues, “but I’m proud on his behalf to say he didn’t miss a day on the set. He did actually reach that mountain top with two broken legs.” Not that Trier was at sea creatively, she adds. “He knows what he wants and the work becomes very pragmatic,” she explains.
Trierfamously does not like to travel and the film was made near Cologne, Germany — the furthest away from home that he has shot. “We kept the film under the Danish flag but shooting in Germany was a better financial solution for us,” Foldagersays. “The shoot went smoothly but it was somewhat rough for Lars because he couldn’t just jump on a plane and go home to Denmark for the weekend. He stayed put in Germany for three months.”
But Foldager is confident the film, which has already created a viral firestorm on the internet, will be among his most commercially successful.
“When you are working on a Lars von Trier film, you know you’re making history,” she says. “The investors have the same feeling in general and sometimes it surprises me how hot he still is. When the trailer of Antichrist went online in April, the Zentropa web page had 130,000 hits in the first day. It was the same story when the still of Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg making love at the foot of the tree was released.”
The film will open in Denmark and 10 other territories shortly after Cannes, an aggressive approach which is new to Foldager who says that Nordisk Film (the distributor in Scandinavia), Les Films Du Losange (France) and Gutek Film (Poland) all contributed to the marketing campaign which will be visible on the Croisette and when the film is released.
“It’s very different to what I’ve done earlier. But we need to get it out there. It’s quite difficult to talk about it before you’ve seen it so we had to hit the perfect balance of horror and art.”
Meta Louise Foldager
Although she has a masters degree in film and media science from the University of Copenhagen, Foldager worked from her first day at university and had her business card printed with ‘producer’.
She spent her first two years in the business at Copenhagen-based Nimbus Film, and then at Zentropa she became known for films asking political questions and challenging audiences.
Tiger awards at the Rotterdam International Film Festival forAFR (2007) and Go With Peace Jamil (2008).
Antichrist (2009), directed by Lars von Trier
The Blessing (2009) Heidi Maria Faisst
Dancers (2008) Pernille Fischer Christensen
Go With Peace Jamil (2008) Omar Shargawi
Island Of Lost Souls (2007) Nikolaj Arcel
AFR (2007) Morten Hartz Kaplers
The Boss Of It All (2006) Lars von Trier
Angels In Fast Motion (2005) Ole Christian Madsen
Kings’ Game (2004) Nikolaj Arcel