Frequent trips to the movies with his film-buff dad laid the ground for Christian Rank's love of film. When his dream of making a career as a drummer fell through, he found the perfect niche as a film producer. "Like a drummer you're sitting behind everyone else, but you're a totally crucial factor that keeps the engine running," Rank says.
Rank is a 2005 producing graduate of the National Film School and has worked at Miso Film since 2008. While his inspiration comes from films such as the American indie films, he also appreciates working on the broad Scandinavian crime series that are Miso Film's backbone and leave room for taking the occasional risk or two.
"I started at Miso out of a desire to learn how to produce high-quality films with healthy finances and I'm gaining huge experience working with big market-oriented projects. It gives you an insight that's valuable when working with smaller films, in terms of financing, market and audience. Merging art and the market is an interesting thing to do," Rank says.
An art film can only survive if the producer makes sure to communicate it to an audience – not necessarily the widest audience – but the right audience.
Don't Get Too Carried Away by Art
"It's crucial to finance small as well as big projects soundly and to be aware of your audience in both cases. You should be careful not to forget the market and not get too carried away by art. An art film can only survive if the producer makes sure to communicate it to an audience – not necessarily the widest audience but the right audience – and adjust the financing and production accordingly."
Communication is key to all good film producing, as Ranks sees it, in terms of the audience as well as the film crew and the financial partners.
"One of the most important tasks for a producer is defining a clear vision and making sure to communicate it to all parties, so that everyone – creatives and investors alike – are working to create the same film," he says. “You should support the filmmakers in their ambitions but also respect the investors' risk. In case of conflict, it's important to have a clearly defined vision from the outset, so you can make your decisions accordingly."
Filmforum To Help Young Writers
As an example of the kind of innovative projects he burns to do, Rank mentions the FilmForum initiative, which he launched with his colleague Caroline Blanco. Putting original screenplays front and centre, the project lets a group of young writers develop their own ideas. The Danish film community has been discussing the lack of skilled young screenwriters with the desire and the time to write feature films – since so many young writers have been too busy writing TV dramas or been hired by established film directors.
In Rank's experience, young writers have lots of original ideas for films, if only they get space to unfold them.
"I hear writers saying how they really want to put their own ideas out there. But they're looking for more companies and producers with the willingness and desire to take their projects and their ideas seriously. As a young producer I really want to help promote such projects and help our generation of filmmakers make their mark. I'm delighted that FilmForum has received support from the Danish Film Institute, as well as from both the national TV stations. It's a sign that the established system wants to hear young voices, too."
Rank sees FilmForum as an extension of the dialogue that happens in film school but all too easily dies out later. "In Denmark, we need to get better at meeting and discussing our craft. That's part of what I hope to get out of being Producer on the Move in Cannes: meeting other filmmakers and establishing dialogue in a bigger forum, while forging new relationships and partnerships across national borders".