Q and A With Lene Borglum

Posted Monday 21 Nov 2016

Lene B�rglum is a Danish film producer and some of you were lucky enough to meet her at WIFT's NZ/Denmark Co-production and Finance Summit last year.

She was deeply involved in the development of the major European independent production company, Zentropa until 2007. She handled international financing on a large number of Zentropa's international films, including Lars von Trier's highly acclaimed and awarded films The Kingdom (1994, 1996), Breaking The Waves (1996), The Idiots(1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), and she was executive producer on Trier's films Dogville(2003), Manderlay (2005), and The Boss Of It All (2006). After B�rglum left Zentropa in 2007, she was executive producer on Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's first English language film Mammoth (2009) and Nicolas Winding Refn's film Valhalla Rising (2009).

After their successful collaboration on Valhalla Rising, B�rglum and Refn teamed up to found the production company Space Rocket Nation in January 2008.

In Space Rocket Nation, B�rglum has produced Refn's film Only God Forgives (2012), starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, Liv Corfixen's documentary film My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (2014) and Refn's film The Neon Demon (2016). She is currently developing a number of other films.

E News writer Josie McNaught caught up online with Lene as she was travelling to various locations for her next film.  Check out the fantastic giveaway offer we have for Neon Demon in this issue of E News.


WIFT: Did you make Neon Demon with your tongue firmly wedged in your cheek, or did you want to make a statement about the world of modelling and exploitation and worship of youth?

Lene: We made a statement about women, the relations between them and the worship of youth - and about going all the way to get what you want

You have tasted success now internationally - so what does it taste like? Was it worth all the hard work?

When the audience and the critics appreciate what you have created, it is always worth all the hard work.

What's the best and worst thing about being an executive producer? Maybe the worst being that there don't seem to be many awards for producers and films are rarely trailered with (From the producer of�.) it's always the directors or the writers or the stars?

Being a producer is like sailing a huge tanker through a sea filled with icebergs or underwater cliffs. If you get safely through the mission, noone will notice, but if you crash underway everybody will notice.

I'm quite happy about not being recognized on the streets etc., which is difficult for a successful director or actor, but I feel that my work is being appreciated anyway.

Do we need pressure groups like WIFT? And if so why?

We need women to stand up and speak for themselves, and to do what they want to do. To believe in themselves and their capacity to do what they want and reach their goals.

Are there equal opportunities for Danish women film makers equal to men?

On the paper they should have equal opportunities, but unfortunately female directors make significantly fewer films than male directors. In Denmark right now research is being done in order to find out why, and find solutions to the problem.

Is there such a thing as a "Danish" film - by which I mean are there specific cultural or visual elements that are always (or often)  present in Danish films? And what does Denmark have to offer the world from its films?

Danish budgets are generally much smaller than budgets in bigger countries, and we work with much smaller crews than bigger countries with more money available for production.  Therefore we invented the Dogma Rules in the 90's. The Dogma Rules focused on the story and the acting as a we will never be able to compete on state of the art digital effects, action etc. I think that a characteristic of Danish films could be that they try to make the personal universal - others  do that as well, but it's the most general characteristic about Danish films.

What is the system in Denmark for becoming a film maker - has it been captured by the universities/academics? or can you still work your way up from runner to Director? and Why did you want to make films?

It is being more and more institutionalized, as more educations are established, but it it still possible to work your way up or just start making your own films as a director. I started making films by a coincidence as I started working with a group of friends doing what we liked to do, and a few years after I found out that was what I was meant to do�

HOw does the collaboration with NIcholas work? do you keep to your defined roles or is there some cross over?

We keep our roles, and we are very much aware of who is good at what, but we communicate a lot

Is there a producer AND director credit waiting out there for you?

I don't think so. What I find mosts interesting is finding and developing the right stories with the right directors, and carrying them through.

Would you like to shoot a film here?

I would love to shoot a film in New Zealand, and I am sure I will find the right project at the right time

International financing of films - has it got easier or harder? Your films have very high production values given their budgets - Valhalla was on $5 million which is pennies in terms of a US blockbuster?

International financing of films has definitely got harder the latest years with the windows disappearing etc. With our background from the Danish film industry, we know how to squeeze as much as possible out of each and every dollar, and this way we can achieve high production value on low budgets.

What's the future of film given the internet/pirate/ state of play?  Also in NZ it costs $20 (97 Krone) to go to the movies on a Saturday night so it's becoming quite expensive.

Nobody knows what will happen, but it is going to be tough - however I'm sure that when one thing disappears, after some time something else will come up, and films will always be produced

Which of your films has given you the most satisfaction professionally and personally

I am proud of all my films, but especially the ones that I have produced in Space Rocket owned by myself and Nicolas