Nordic Networking Days in Cannes

CANNES. "It is and will be even more important in the future for producers to co-operate." This is one of the chief thoughts behind Young Producers Club, an initiative during the Cannes Festival giving young Nordic producers an opportunity to boost their international relations.

Ruben Östlund and producer Erik Hemmendorff, attending this year's Cannes with their Swedish-Danish co-production "Force Majeure", were among the senior film professionals sharing their gold with junior colleagues at Young Producers Club, held for the second time at the Cannes Festival.

"Fruitful co-operation is very much based on personal relationships." Petri Kemppinen, CEO of Nordisk Film & TV Fond

25 young Nordic producers participated in the initiative designed to strengthen networking among Nordic producers and to support international co-production. During the three-day event, the participants attended lectures, networking meetings and explored business cases in Nordic and European co-productions. 

Around 65 international industry people offered insight into the world of producing, sales and distribution, including producers Bo Ehrhardt, one of the driving forces behind the acclaimed Danish-Swedish television series "The Bridge", and Jeremy Thomas, who has produced for heavyweights like Bernardo Bertolucci and Cannes participant David Cronenberg.

We asked three film professionals who each took part in this year's edition how Young Producers Club can help prepare up-and-coming producers for the film market of the future.

Important to build personal relations

Nordisk Film & TV Fond, a key agency in the support of Nordic film and TV productions, is one of the sponsors of the initiative.

"Young Producers Club provides a unique opportunity for junior producers to enhance their international network and get to know their colleagues from neighbouring countries during the intense and hectic days of the Cannes Festival," says CEO Petri Kemppinen.

"Even though Nordisk Film & TV Fond is not imposing anyone to make co-productions, it is and will be even more important in the future for producers to co-operate. Distribution of films is rapidly changing and thus the young producers must build networks to increase their knowledge on the local situation in their neighbouring countries," says Kemppinen, adding:

"Fruitful co-operation is very much based on personal relationships and knowing your partners."

Playing with the big boys – before they get big

Among the 25 participants was Nikolaj Vibe Michelsen. He is part of the development outfit Creative Alliance, set up last year with Danish directors such as Per Fly, Thomas Vinterberg and Lone Scherfig to make films for the international market. To Vibe Michelsen, the Young Producers Club offered great opportunities for both knowledge and networking:

"I took part because I was able to meet with dedicated colleagues and possible future business partners who are about to gain a foothold in the film industry. It's a bit like playing with the big boys – before they get big."

"The weekend also brought on new insights. The combination of young producers with great drive and experienced industry speakers created great energy. Especially, I thought it was interesting to learn how newcomers in the business relate to the challenges of the current film industry," says Vibe Michelsen who already has some experience in international collaborations through his work at Creative Alliance. He explains:

"For instance, it was interesting to hear both the young and more seasoned producers talk about their experiences with projects that are 'between boxes ' or otherwise don't 'fit'."

More than one way

Katrin Mersmann, consultant for Nordic co-productions at the regional film fund in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, mentored a case study on the Club's final day.

To Mersmann, who sees the initiative as a welcome opportunity for the young producers to gather during the Cannes Festival, the initiative could also provide the participants with specific knowledge on possible co-financing partners and countries.

"Especially through the case studies, the producers learnt that there is more than one way to co-produce and to finance. It seemed that a lot of them felt safer to co-produce with Scandinavian partners, because most of them already know how to. I guess that the case studies provided insight into what you need to consider if you want to have, like in our study, a regional German fund or the German Federal Film Fund being involved in the financing."

Young Producers Club took place from 16 to 18 May during the Cannes Festival and is organised by Noemi Ferrer Schwenk of the Danish Film Institute and Tina Sørensen of the National Film School of Denmark.