Almost a decade after they founded their Copenhagen-based company Miso Film, co-founders Peter Bose and Jonas Allen have in their production pipeline Ole Bornedal’s 1864 (the biggest Danish TV series and feature project ever) and crime series from Denmark (Dicte Season 2) and Norway (Acquitted). We spoke to them at MIPTV.
How long have you been working together?
Peter Bose: We work together since 1999. We met at Per Holst Film/Nordisk Film and continued our co-operation at Film People. In January 2003 we were contacted by Ole Søndberg, whom I worked closely together with at Victoria Film. Ole was in the process of setting up Yellow Bird and we got on board, made the whole set up together with him which lead to the production of the first 13 Wallander films. Even before we joined Yellow Bird we knew that we wanted to have our own company, which we did in 2005.
So the idea of producing crime series goes a long way back…
PB: Yes, when I joined Victoria Film in 1996 they had already produced the first six Sjöwall & Wahlöö films and in the following years we produced Beck I & II and Wallander based on the same business model. We have of course optimized and worked a lot with the model but all the projects that we’ve done since -Varg Veum, Those Who Kill, Dicte - are more or less based on that model.
How do you select your crime material?
Jonas Allen: From Miso Film’s first project Varg Veum we started looking at what was on the market. At Yellow Bird we had produced Wallander with Krister Henriksson and wanted to create something similar but slightly different. We also looked at what they do in the US. We saw that interestingly they do different kind of crimes, so we started thinking in the same lines, finding different niches within crime.
With Varg Veum for instance we liked the idea of having a private eye, not the regular police inspector. The same goes with Those Who Kill. We thought it was interesting to have a profiler unit with a forensic psychiatrist. With Dicte, it’s also different with the lead character as a journalist. It’s also crime with a feel-good element, the story of a woman in her 40s with a teenage daughter.
How many in-house producers are at Miso Film?
PB: Besides us there are three producers: Christian Potalivo, Caroline Blanco both graduates from the Danish film school and Mikael Olsen who used to work for Zentropa.
In terms of financing, I guess you tend to have the same partners in crime…
PB: Yes we have built a strong relationship over the last 15 years with all Nordic broadcasters. They know we are capable of delivering quality work. We also have strong ties with the German broadcasters ZDF and ARD. Germany has always been important for our projects because they come up with 10-20% of the financing. Without that support, it would be hard to get the quality and production value that we have in our projects. The reason why we succeed in Denmark and Scandinavia is precisely because we manage to keep the quality at a high level. And still, our budgets are much lower compared for example to the costs of US shows.
So what is the typical budget per episode for your TV series?
PB: For a 90 minute episode it’s almost €2 million. A 5x90’ or 10x45’ series like Dicte and Those Who Kill is between €9 and €10 million, whereas Varg Veum is a bit higher because the films are made for cinema.
Are you pleased to have new players on the market such as HBO and Netflix for co-financing?
PB: We still have to see because the amount of money they can pay is very low compared for instance to what the free-TV stations in Scandinavia are paying and still there is the issue about hold back. However we have sold a lot of our productions to HBO Nordic, Netflix, C-More etc., but for secondary broadcasting. But it is a fact that the business model and whole financing structure is changing.
What’s in production right now at Miso Film?
PB: We started developing Dicte 2 in October last year. TV2 Denmark has committed to the new season and we’re having discussions with TV4 Sweden, TV2 Norway, ZDF and hopefully we will close the financing in May-June and start production in October and shooting in January 2014.
JA: We have the existing characters from Elsebeth Egholm’s novels. We will produce new stories, set ups with those characters. We have the same writers Dorte W. Høeg and Ida Maria Rydén on board which is essential for the project and of course the author Elsebeth.
Do you have more crime cooking?
JA: Yes we have the new 10x45’ Norwegian show Acquitted produced in cooperation with TV2 Norway. It’s an original idea by writers Siv Rajendram Eliassen (Varg Veum) and Anna Bache-Wiig, about a man who was accused of a rape and murder but then acquitted as it was proved that he wasn’t guilty. He is stigmatised by the whole experience. The show is about that guy’s journey back to redeem himself.
When does it start production?
JA: The plan is to start shooting early 2014. We have Charlotte Sieling attached to direct.
PB: Our company Miso Film Norway is producing and SF have Scandinavian distribution rights.
You’ve just started filming Ole Bornedal’s mega project 1864 in the Czech Republic. You said it’s a dream project for a producer when you announced it in Copenhagen…Why?
PB: Being from Scandinavia, it’s once in a lifetime that a producer gets a chance to work on such a big project. It’s also very complicated; a period piece with guns and cannons, special effects. It’s a fantastic story and our Danish history of course.
How has Ole Bornedal adapted the novel Slagtebænk Dybbøl by Tom Buk-Swienty?
PB: Buk-Swienty’s wonderful novel is basically a documentary about the war. What made the book fascinating is that the author used letters between the soldiers, their family and girlfriends so it is very emotional. Ole took the novel as an inspiration and then wrote his own story. It’s a dramatic love story about the cruelty and pleasures of life against a war backdrop.
JA: The great thing with Ole is that he created this powerful love story instead of just portraying 1864 on a historical standpoint. So this is actually a character-driven fiction based on 1864, about different characters, their journey into the war and after the war. It’s also about what war means today, the way we act politically in times of conflicts.
The timing is also right to come up with another historical epic after A Royal Affair that was so successful internationally, plus you were also involved in Max Manus as co-producers…
PB: Yes indeed. I believe historical pieces do have their momentum right now. There are a lot of good TV series and fiction films on the market. The audience enjoys seeing how things were in the past. It’s part of us.
What other projects do you have?
PB: We have a feature film Dannys Dommedag that will start shooting this summer.
JA: It’s a youth thriller directed by Martin Barnewitz (Room 205). We have received support from the DFI, DR and Svensk Filmindustri will handle domestic distribution.
PB: We have also sold the remake rights of Those Who Kill to A&E who have just given the go ahead to make it a series with Chloë Sevigny and James D’Arcy in the lead. It’s a new journey for us to be part of an American show as executive producers.
Where would you like Miso Film to be in 5 years?
PB: So far we’ve produced in Denmark and Norway. It makes sense to start producing in Sweden as well and to consider doing English language series in Europe, using our Scandinavian model.