“It’s very Hard to Finance a Film”

5 Questions to Helena Bergström, Swedish Actress and Film Director

Per Strömbäck, Editor of Netopia, recently had the opportunity to sit down with critically acclaimed Swedish Actress and Film Director Helena Bergström to talk about her upcoming film ‘A Holy Mess’ (En underbar jävla jul in Swedish) and to discuss her experience as a filmmaker and how the changing audiovisual landscape impacts the cinema sector.

Watch the interview below:



Per Strömbäck: I’m here with Helena Bergström, you are one of Sweden’s most famous actresses and directors, and you’re here in Brussels to screen your new movie ‘A Holy Mess’ which opens this Christmas. You have been very cautious about this film, you were afraid that it would leak or end up in the wrong place, why have you been so cautious?

Helena Bergström: Of course, in the time we are living in now it’s so easy that it can be spread and the other day when I was still working with sound on the film and of course it was not finished, I went on the net to see how the trailer looked and all of a sudden, I saw ““A Holy Mess”, the whole film“. And I just, I was numb; and of course I went into it and it was not the whole film it was somebody who had tried to kind of get clicks, I don’t know who but it was still not the whole film. But there were so many thoughts in my head; who leaked it? Was it from the sound or was it from where we had been grading the film? Who was leaking my film and of course it’s behind you all the time as a threat, because of course if it’s leaked, if it’s there on the net, it’s not yours. How would I get an audience for it? So, of course it’s a huge issue for us that make films, that we somehow just deal with this question. Because otherwise we won’t be able to make films anymore.


PS: You are one of the most influential people in the Swedish film industry do you find it easy to make the films that you like to make?

HB: It’s very hard financially right now and it’s always been but now, it’s even harder than it’s ever been actually to finance a film. It’s because also DVDs is out, doesn’t exist, and was a huge part of the economy of the film, a DVD. First you have the cinema window, then you have the DVD and then of course it went on the different page, Amazon and all of that. But now, that side is just gone and that you really feel within the film business, how hard it is to finance. And then you need to sit with, in my case, with this last film I made you have to sit with private financers to try to get some private finance but it’s hard to say to these people “oh, you’re going to get your money back, no problem”, because it is a very tough time right now and we need all the help we can to sort this side of piracy about the stealing. That’s what it is, stealing, stealing our work if you don’t pay for it. So, for all creators to make films it’s hugely important and it will be for the people watching because it in the end there won’t be any films made.


PS: This is a really typical Swedish story, “A Holy Mess” it’s about the Swedish Christmas, but a lot of movies are co-productions with funding from various countries, how important is this European collaboration?

HB: With this case in my film now its local but I really hope it will travel, I think it could, we say it could be a remake or something like that but I think it would be great if Europeans film could be more spread. In my case right now this film is totally financed in Sweden of course I wish that I could also get some finance from the outside as well. But, I think we need to open up the European market that we are more open to look at one-another’s film. In Sweden we like our local films but then we watch American films. It’s very hard, it’s very seldom of French films or another other we can say non-English speaking films works audience-wide in Sweden but I think there’s a market there, let’s target it to really try to open up and let the distributors be able to distribute more European films because I think in the end that’s also what’s going to open up and make an understanding between each country and we try to collaborate with some many issues right now because Europe is in a crisis we can say, and then we need to understand one-another and I think then to start to see each other’s cultures is very important.


PS: And this goal of increasing the exchange within Europe that’s also a political goal for the European institutions, a current suggestion is the licensing of rights should be made mandatory or similar to mandatory in order to facilitate the traveling of European movies, what do you think about this?

HB: It is one problem that is of course the funding of the films, we need to be able to sell our films, to get funding. If you just open it up then of course we are in a very tough situation of course with the financing of the films. So, we should open up to show more European films for one-another in these countries but we also need to help one-another to finance them and then we need to be able to sell a film. So, to just open up is also very dangerous in that sense.


PS: And my last question, digital technology we like to say has changed a lot, what has the difference for you as a filmmaker before and after digital technology, we talked about the market but what about the making of the films?

HB: Oh it’s huge actually, this film for example I’ve been having my dailies in my phone, I’ve been looking through my phone, everything is so digital I get everything home with me all the time I’ve been cutting something I’m sitting at my computer and my last film was not this highly different in technology as it be now, it’s been very good for me creative-wise because it is so open I can bring it all the time but it’s also fear of course if it goes to me now where is it going, is it going to somebody else, can somebody else watch it? It includes some fear as well. But of course the technology is fantastic in many ways, creative-wise and also this digital copies. Before we had copies on the film, each copy cost a lot but now of course it can go up in many copies but also makes it very fast running the cinema so you need to make it work immediately. Before we could have long runs, we could kind of work a film, not many copies maybe but it still goes and then it can go for three, months, up to a year. One of my biggest audience films I think it was in the cinema for a year, that is an impossibility now of course, sad I think also, so it good and bad.

PS: Thank you very much Helena Bergström we wish you the best of luck with “A Holy Mess”