Not since images of Copenhagen’s City Town Square traveled round the world in Alfred Hitchcock’s Topaz from 1969 has a grand Hollywood production had the same opportunity to brand the Danish capital as Tom Hooper’s upcoming feature, The Danish Girl. The Oscar-winning director (Les Misérable, The King’s Speech) spent two weeks shooting on location in central Copenhagen at the end of March.
The film marks the first Hollywood production to be supported by the Copenhagen Film Fund, established in 2013. Produced by Universal subsidiary Working Title Film, it’s the perfect scale for the fund to make a difference, says Thomas Gammeltoft, CEO of the Copenhagen Film Fund, which has supported the production with DKK 6m (EUR 0.81m).
Sixty crew members from London were supplemented by eighty Danish B-crew members. And the Britons could have easily saved some of the plane tickets, says Gammeltoft. "Both parties learned that we would benefit from mixing the teams more and leave some of the prominent positions to local crew members." In future collaborations, the Danish production coordinators will try to present some Danish crew members in London ahead of the production and keep them as leading crew members in Copenhagen.
From the set of "The Danish Girl" by the "Nyhavn" waterfront, above, one of the film’s approximately twenty locations in Copenhagen. In one scene Copenhagen doubles as Paris where Lili Elbe lived for a while. The film is also shot in London and Belgium. Photo: Universal Pictures
"At first glance, Denmark is an expensive country to shoot in because of the high wages," Gammeltoft says. "But we are used to working with a much smaller crew, which saves money in the end – if the teams adapt to our method."
The Danish Girl is a love story inspired by the lives of artists Einar and Gerda Wegener. Their marriage and work is put to the test when Einar begins his journey towards becoming Lili Elbe, one of the world’s first transgender women.
British Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Misérables) and Swedish rising star Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) play the leads. The cast also includes Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), and Amber Heard (The Rum Diary).
"The actors enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Copenhagen and the fact that they could walk around the streets undisturbed," says Gammeltoft.
The fund is currently in talks with Working Title about supporting a new large-scale studio production.