You started in 2013 at the Fund. On a personal level, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Petri Kemppinen: One of the many rewarding aspects has been to learn much more about TV drama. I had worked for YLE in the past, but that was more than a decade ago and in the youth department, with a drama focus on teens and pre-teens. Things have changed dramatically with the boom of TV drama during the past four-five years and it’s been thrilling to witness the changes on an artistic and business standpoint.

The Fund is quite unique in its structure, with 17 Nordic partners [The Nordic Council of Ministers, five national film institutes/funds and 11 national public service and private TV stations] injecting around NOK 100 million (€ 10,500,000) each year. What are the advantages of such a structure?
Unlike national funds and broadcasters who need to follow local remits and regulations, we have more freedom and that leaves us more room to experiment, manoeuvre and be pro-active on a Nordic level. We are also a very streamlined organisation, partly because we’re involved at a later stage of production, in top-up financing. This means that we can take decisions faster than other funding bodies.

Do you feel the Fund has been able to fulfil its main goal which is to finance Nordic projects that can travel in the Nordic region and internationally?
With TV dramas and documentaries the improvement is huge but distribution of feature films remains an issue. Only a handful of major Nordic projects targeting wide audiences are produced each year, and outside the home countries, films face competition from Hollywood and domestic productions. We’ve had nice successes with films such as A Man Called Ove, The Wave, The King’s Choice but they are too few. We need to focus more on distribution and we’ve made our rules and regulations much more flexible.

How does the fund evaluate success? Besides commercial success, do you set yourself targets in terms of how many A festival selections and awards you want to achieve each year?
We do look at results achieved by our projects and evaluate their performance twice a year to see if they have matched the expectations. Box office success is important of course, but our main concern is for a film to reach its target audience. National funds focus on the selection at major festivals and prestigious awards such as the Oscars. This is important for us as well but perhaps not a priority, although we were proud of being associated with two out of five Foreign Language Oscar nominations and half of the European Film Awards coming to the Nordic region! With documentaries, the circulation of works is perhaps the most crucial criteria for success, and equally relevant for us is the impact of these films. Regarding TV Dramas, we have just launched a research on how well they actually perform across the Nordics.

What is the average recoupment rate?
During the past few years, we’ve had roughly NOK 5 million in recoupment from films on an annual basis. Last year recoupment added 10 % to our budget for feature films.

How has the Fund adapted to the market in the digital age?
PK: The key change is that we are now fully platform neutral with our distribution requirement for production funding. We were the first Fund to be able to do this.  We have also gradually adapted and increased our distribution support. When I started in 2013, we spent less than NOK 2 million a year on distribution. In 2016 it was closer to NOK 5 million and this year we’ve earmarked NOK 9 million. We have also adapted our distribution initiatives and turned the pilot ‘Nordic Film Marketing Support Scheme’ into a permanent project.

The opening up of our slate distribution support has also proven quite successful.

Do you intend to open-up the Fund to other partners such as OTT players?
VOD services are increasingly active in the financing and distribution of Nordic content and we’ve had discussions with our Board regarding this issue. This would require a re-evaluation of our funding structure.

Going forward, what are the key areas that you will focus on?
We will continue to focus on quality projects with a cross over and cross border potential. But we will need other specific distribution initiatives to strengthen the promotion and marketing of those films, especially during pre-production. I believe this is key. Today the bigger Scandinavian distributors are more reluctant to pick up Nordic films and to market them cross border, whereas independent local distributors continue to work hard on finding audiences for quality auteur films. I will investigate how we could help producers lift the potential of their projects on a Nordic and international level. For instance, we could select directors that have had a breakthrough with their first or second film, and are ready for the big leap, and find tools that would help their producers widen the audience potential and outreach of those films.

The bulk of Nordisk Film & TV Fond’s support goes to feature film, then to TV drama. As TV seems to have the upper hand these days, can you envisage reviewing your split between film & TV drama support?
We should always support the best projects. Two years ago, 45% of our fiction funding went to TV drama; in 2016 the share was closer to 25% and this year it’s come up again. It varies. We have also discussed at the Fund if we should support returning seasons. But we have taken the tough decision of sticking to the policy of supporting only one season – especially the original opening season.

The Nordic brand is now well established worldwide. Is there a way the Fund could sustain this global interest, notably regarding the promotion of Nordic actors abroad?
Through our cultural initiatives, we have supported Nordic composers and cinematographers, so I could easily think of extending our support to Nordic actors. We would have to think of the best way to do this.

Nordic Talents that you coordinate together with the National Film School of Denmark is a must-attend event. How do you make sure you attract the best graduation projects and top Nordic delegates during the busy month of September?
Every year we review the past event and take on board the input from all participants. Until now only graduation students from Nordic film schools (except Icelandic film students) were eligible for pitching, but this year we’ve decided to open Nordic Talents to all Nordic film students, whatever film school or academy they come from.

What other networking activities are you going to focus on?
PK: I have on-going discussions with our regular partners Nordic Film Market, New Nordic Films, CPH:DOX FORUM, Nordisk Panorama and The Financing Forum for Kids Content about how to develop their networking platforms and we’ve already seen concrete improvements with the launch this year of our first Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize in Göteborg or our Nordic Genre Boost in Haugesund. These are big steps and we will continue to strengthen industry-related initiatives.

What is the place of Nordisk Film & TV Fond within the European film and TV industry? Would it make sense for the Fund to become more political and act as lobbying tool?
PK: I feel that we are already a kind of spokesperson for the Nordics, which is important as foreign professionals tend to see the Nordic countries as one region. Our voice is heard and one very important instrument in this is our highly valued comprehensive news service through bi-weekly newsletters and website! Having a lobbying activity could be very time consuming for a small operation like ours and it would take our energy and focus away from our core mandate.