Call Gudrun Giddings the Scandinavia film whisperer. Ever since "Let the Right One In" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" delivered box office that headed straight north, Hollywood has been mining Nordic noir that's fresh, dark and edgy from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Among the filmmakers in demand for overseas gigs: Daniel Espinosa ("Safe House"), Jalmari Helander ("Rare Exports"), Baltasar Kormakur ("2 Guns"), Tommy Wirkola ("Dead Snow"), Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg ("Kon-Tiki"), Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive") and Andre Ovredal ("Troll Hunter"). To help deal with the language barrier, L.A.-based Giddings has become key in linking Scandinavian and Hollywood production companies, agencies and studios with talent, projects and financing.
Backstory: Giddings studied to be a lawyer, and learned the ropes of the film biz at Samuel and Victor Hadida's Davis Films and Metropolitan Filmexport ("Domino," "Silent Hill"), and later Paradox Entertainment ("Conan the Barbarian") before venturing off on her own to produce projects like Norwegian horror-thriller "Thale." She's the U.S. liaison for Scandinavian Film Locations, and president and chair of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce-Los Angeles. "It's all about relationships," Giddings says, adding that whether you're working in Hollywood or Scandinavia, "They take time to develop."
Fully Cooked Content: What's helped make Scandinavian projects attractive isn't just their popularity, but that they arrive fully developed. "It's not a factory over there," Giddings says. "The development process is long, and the countries support (it)," with governments providing filmmakers with funding to flesh out their ideas. "They don't have to work as a waiter. They have the luxury of doing this for a living," Giddings says. Scandinavia, she adds, looks at entertainment as art. "It's never been money-driven." Cannes entry "Force majeure" (at left) received funding from the Swedish government.
Opting for English: Day-and-date releases and digital platforms are limiting remakes, and causing filmmakers to think globally, not locally. "Because the world is getting smaller, everyone's realizing they should get out of their bubbles, (make the movie) in English and shoot in Scandinavia," says Giddings, whose upcoming films -- the sequel to "Thale" and thriller "Don't Come After Me," based on a Finnish novel ("Gladiaattori" by Nina Honkanen) -- are English-language.
Nordic invasion: "Sixty percent of (directors, producers, sales companies) I'm meeting in Cannes this year are Scandinavian," says Giddings, who is in post on "Like Me." "Last year, it was around 35%." Giddings points out that Scandi countries will often collaborate on projects: Sweden's Tomas Alfredson will direct Nesbo's "The Snowman," while the original version of "The Bridge" TV series was co-produced by Sweden and Denmark (and remade by FX). Film Festival Flix is seeking Scandi movies to distribute in the U.S., and recently acquired "The Act of Killing" and Danish cult film "Klown."
What's Next? "There is a lot of great TV coming out of Scandinavia. It has not popped as much as the feature films, but it's coming," Giddings says. In addition to FX's "The Bridge," Netflix's "Lilyhammer" and AMC's "The Killing," NBC is going outside the noir genre with Amy Poehler-produced comedy "Welcome to Sweden," to air in July. And Giddings isn't just focused on her homeland; she has film projects "Young Santa" set up with director Sean McNamara; and Peter Cornwell's thriller "Minion."
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