Picking up the slack

PROFILE. Four filmmakers – Eva Mulvad, Pernille Rose Grønkjær, Mikala Krogh and Phie Ambo – each own a fifth of the Danish Documentary production company and keep all the rights to their films. That gives the fifth partner, producer Sigrid Dyekjær, a free hand to go unconventional ways.

Sigrid Dyekj+ªr bredformat

Producer Sigrid Dyekjær. Photo Stine Heilmann

Sigrid Dyekjær may be petite, but the force field around her is huge. Were the Good Lord ever to declare that the human species had grown so dumb that he was throwing in the towel and pressing the doomsday button, Dyekjær would put a calming hand on everyone's arm and say, "Don't worry, I'll find someone else to work with!"

"If you want to communicate with an audience, you have to think PR and strategy from day one of the filmmaker getting her idea."

On 15 May 2013, Phie Ambo's documentary "Free the Mind" is screening in Madison, Wisconsin, with the planned attendance of none other than the Dalai Lama, along with mindfulness expert Richard Davidson and a potential throng of American celebrities who want to bask in the spiritual glow. More than the kickoff of the film's American distribution, it's a unique and unusual event for a Danish documentary. But first, "Free the Mind" is opening in Germany, in around 100 theatres.

"If you want to communicate with an audience, you have to think PR and strategy from day one of the filmmaker getting her idea. You have to embrace your audience, keep them in mind, very early on, and not be afraid of them," Dyekjær tells me in a café near Danish Documentary's offices in old-town Copenhagen. Finding an available room at Danish Documentary proved impossible. That's only how it should be, the producer says, in a torrent of ideas and opinions.

"I was co-owner of a production company that was acquired by a big film company and suddenly it was all about having high-ceilings and nice offices," Dyekjær says. "At Danish Documentary, we share three low-ceilinged rooms. The money we make does not go to 40 assistants and a fancy space. We cut to the bone on every production. That gives us the freedom to let Mikala Krogh shoot "A Normal Life" for a full year before applying for production support and decide that we wouldn't complete the film if Cecilie, the young girl in the film, died of cancer. Creative, artistic freedom is possible when you don't spend your money on high ceilings and the works."

Wielding that freedom, Dyekjær and her PR officer Freddy Neumann try to send Danish Documentary's films directly to audiences around excess links, such as sales agents, that traditionally come between the filmmaker and the audience. For Ambo's "Free the Mind", Dyekjær is trying to pick the right strategy to match each market.

"'Free the Mind' gives you several themes to play off. There is meditation and the Dalai Lama, who is huge in America. There is the military, war veterans and ADHD. There is something to grab audiences. Germans don't want to hear about war and veterans at all, so we are rolling out another strategy there. In Germany, our main focus is on the education segment, the potential for kids and teens to optimize their learning, along with the meditation and yoga crowd," she says.

"Distributors and sales agents have to learn to think in new ways. They have lost the willingness to take risks and that gives me an opportunity, as a producer, to pick up the slack,'' Dyekjær says.

Generally, in terms of distributing documentaries, she sees the importance of TV as strongly declining and cinemas and video-on-demand (VoD) as ascendant. For the same reason, all of Danish Documentary's films are available on VoD on the company's website. "It's something the feature film scene has been talking doing about for years," Dyekjær says. "We just went ahead and dit it."

Nearby, in Danish Documentary's offices, Phie Ambo adds, "When I finish my films, I can kick back and relax, because I know Sigrid will fight tooth and nail for every single one of them".

News from dfi.dk

/IDFA 2012

An excercise in affecting the hearts and minds of millions

An excercise in affecting the hearts and minds of millions

22 November 2012 WHY POVERTY. After half a century of aid, why are so many people still living in poverty? This is the central question driving the ground-breaking documentary series Why Poverty? w...
Women on Power

Women on Power

22 November 2012 | By Marianne Lentz WHY POVERTY. Can you teach illiterate women from developing countries to build solar panels? That's exactly what a project in India aims to do. Solar Mamas trac...
Mercy, Mercy and Ghost of Piramida nominated at IDFA

Mercy, Mercy and Ghost of Piramida nominated at IDFA

22 November 2012 | By Freja Dam Katrine W. Kjær's Mercy, Mercy is nominated in the First Appearance Competition, and Andreas Koefoed's Ghost of Piramida in the Music Competition at the IDFA 2012...
Scrutinising a Swiss Mining Venture

Scrutinising a Swiss Mining Venture

22 November 2012 | By Marianne Lentz WHY POVERTY. In Stealing Africa, Christoffer Guldbrandsen investigates how multinational companies are draining money out of Africa and into tax havens in the r...
When do we stop caring?

When do we stop caring?

22 November 2012 WHY POVERTY. Some of them make you embarrassed, upset, outraged even, but I think the deepest feeling the 'Why Poverty?' films impart is they make you feel part of a global communi...
Meetings and conversations

Meetings and conversations

14 November 2012 | By Henrik Bo Nielsen EDITORIAL. In early November we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Copenhagen's CPH:DOX film festival, and now IDFA is turning 25. Aren't we lucky to have th...
The other side

The other side

13 November 2012 | By Nagieb Khaja IDFA. Janus Metz's groundbreaking Armadillo showed us the war in Afghanistan from the point of view of the young soldiers entering combat for the first time. Now...
The price of perfection

The price of perfection

13 November 2012 | By Nanna Frank Rasmussen IDFA. Katrine Philp's first feature-length documentary, Dance for Me, follows a pair of young elite dancers who have a hard time finding their groove out...
Curiosity and wonder

Curiosity and wonder

13 November 2012 | By Susanna Neimann PROFILE. He always brings the same poetry collection, a Navajo silver clip in his right side pocket and a lens cleaning cloth in his left. He says he's autisti...
FILM#76 online now

FILM#76 online now

13 November 2012 | By Freja Dam MAGAZINE. Nine Danish documentaries are on show at this year's IDFA. Read interviews with the directors, portraits of the producers, the latest news, and much more i...
Stindbergian gravity

Stindbergian gravity

13 November 2012 | By Per Juul Carlsen IDFA. Mikala Krogh has been he serious one ever since she was a teenager and hosted radio shows for children and teens. The same gravity permeates her documen...
Picking up the slack

Picking up the slack

13 November 2012 | By Per Juul Carlsen PROFILE. Four filmmakers – Eva Mulvad, Pernille Rose Grønkjær, Mikala Krogh and Phie Ambo – each own a fifth of the Danish Documentary production company and...
My slightly dim-witted friend

My slightly dim-witted friend

13 November 2012 | By Per Juul Carlsen IDFA. Phie Ambo started filming her family and the world around her when she was 22. She never looked at the footage, but simply used the camera to help her u...
Decay and creation, hand in hand

Decay and creation, hand in hand

13 November 2012 | By Ralf Christensen IDFA. Today all is quiet, but there was a time when Piramida, in the Svalbard archipelago, was an industrious mining town, where life blossomed for Alexander...
Deconstructing a genocide

Deconstructing a genocide

13 November 2012 | By Freja Dam PROFILE. Depicting the genocide in Indonesia in 1965 from the point of view of the perpetrators, The Act of Killing has caused an uproar in Indonesia and the West. I...

Factbox

Contact

DFI-FILM Issue 

Susanna Neimann

Editor
Tel. +45 4119 1540
susannan@dfi.dk

Annemarie Hørsman
Editor
Tel. +45 3374 3474
annemarieh@dfi.dk 

Lars Fiil-Jensen
Editorial team
Tel. +45 2032 8121
larsf@dfi.dk

Anders Budtz-Jørgensen
Editorial team
Tel. +45 3374 3528
andersbj@dfi.dk

Det Danske Filminstitut

Danish Film Institute /
Det Danske Filminstitut

EAN-nr: 5798000794085
CVR-nr: 56858318

Gothersgade 55
1123 København K

Tel. +45 3374 3400
Fax +45 3374 3401
E-mail: dfi@dfi.dk

Tickets
TEL. +45 3374 3412