How has your job as a producer changed in the last decade?
Meta Louise Foldager: It has changed on several levels. First of all, I’m more a CEO than a hands-on producer. Today I have producers working for me. I supervise them and keep an executive producer credit.
Parallel to my own company Meta Film, specialized in feature film, I also run SAM Productions which is a TV drama company backed by Studiocanal in France. So the two companies are very different. Right now the feature film business is going through a tough time financially, whereas TV drama is blooming.
Let’s talk more in detail about your two companies. First of all what types of projects do you produce for Meta Film and what’s in your current line up?
MLF: I have an output deal with SF Film. We do films with talents that we believe can have an international career on the long run. We always try to find ways to work internationally, even with Danish language films such as Summer of 92’, handled internationally by Jeremy Thomas’s Hanway Films. We focus on quality, be it quality mainstream or arthouse films that do well at festivals. We have the ambition of developing our materials into not only good but very good projects.
Budget-wise, we work on a wide spectrum of projects, such as the DKK 6 million first feature film In Your Arms and DKK 24 million Danish/UK co-production Summer of 92’. We have an even bigger project coming up: the DKK 50 million Glenn Close vehicle The Wife directed by Björn Runge. The project will be produced by Piodor Gustafsson for our Swedish production branch Meta Film Stockholm and hopefully it will go into production in the fall 2016.
We have another mega project in our pipeline: the sequel to Pelle the Conqueror, to be directed by Per Fly, based on a script by Peter Birro. We are casting right now and the project should start filming in the fall 2016 in Prague. I bought the rights to the book by Martin Andersen Nexø several years ago and then contacted Per.
Your TV company SAM Productions was launched in May 2014. How did you hook up with co-founders and writers Adam Price and Søren Sveistrup?
MLF: I knew Adam quite well. He told me how much interest he had from UK and US broadcasters in particular. I said it was perhaps a good idea to see how he could capitalize on the interest he created on Borgen. We then discussed the possibility of creating a writers-based production company. We wanted to involve another big name and Søren Sveistrup [creator of Forbrydelsen/The Killing] joined us. I negotiated with three international broadcasters to get a major partner on board and closed a deal with Studiocanal.
What made you choose Studiocanal?
MLF: They offered a good deal and fact that Studiocanal is French is one of the reasons why we wanted to work with them. They understand art and the importance of creating the best working environment for talents. For us it was essential to deal with people who understood the need for artistic freedom. Studiocanal also has its own international sales division and they handle all our TV drama projects.
What genres will you develop at SAM Productions?
MLF: We will produce a lot of drama, some crime and everything in between. We believe in local productions but some projects will be in the English language, only it if makes sense creatively.
Would you be interested in opening up SAM to other Scandinavian writers?
MLF: Søren and Adam are co-owners of SAM Productions and writers of their own original scripted content, but they also act as executive producers on series produced by SAM in Denmark or its sister companies, such as SAM Le Français based in France. For the moment we have as many as 25 projects in development, from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France, and soon we will have projects in Germany and the UK as well. We have talent scouts and researchers who just watch TV series and read scripts, constantly looking for the best writers in Europe who could collaborate with us.
Is SAM actually a European production hub?
MLF: Our company is truly European but based in Scandinavia and working the Scandinavian way. Our goal is to strengthen the relationships between Scandinavian and other European talents. We will create TV drama for the local markets, using local stars, writers, etc. for instance we already have a Canal Plus project in the works at SAM le Français that will be 100% French. In parallel we will find French and European partners for our Scandinavian projects.
How many shows will you produce each year?
MLF: The volume for our drama output is flexible. But the biggest challenges we have right now is to find producers capable of making great TV series for us, in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.
Can you update us on Adam Price’s next TV drama Rides Upon the Storm, co-produced with DR and Arte in France? The subject of faith and war fought in the name of religion couldn’t be more topical…
MLF: Rides Upon the Storm will move into production in the spring 2016. The two seasons of 10 episodes each will be greenlit at the same time. The cast will be purely Danish. Everything that deals with religion right now is very important. In 100 years, we will look back at our time and religion is what will define us.
How do you see the future for TV drama?
MLF: There are many new players on the market, and everybody with a bit of money wants to get on the TV drama bandwagon, be it Amazon, Apple TV etc. I don’t think that broadcasters’ interest in TV drama will diminish in the next 10 years, but only strong quality projects will survive. So we should all keep focusing on quality.