Don’t call it a Scandinavian invasion, at least not yet, but there’s a new wave of d.p.’s and other artists from that part of the world heeding the call of Hollywood. The hitch is that those making the switch — looking for a broader platform and bigger paychecks — sometimes have to deal with a serious case of culture shock.
In Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere, smaller crews multitask and individuals cross over department lines as they churn out low-budget, often government-subsidized pics.
That’s a far cry from the profit-driven Hollywood system, with its hierarchal command structure, delineated departments and stricter union rules about who can do what on set.
“Crews in Sweden are smaller and everyone gets involved in the creative process,” said Fredrik Backar, the young Swedish d.p. who started working on David Fincher’s “Girl With the Dragon Tatoo,” now shooting in Stockholm, before he was replaced by Hollywood veteran Jeff Cronenweth.
“In the States, there’s a separation between the different lines of work,” he added. “In Sweden a grip can make a suggestion about set design and I’ll say ‘go for it.’ It’s a working relationship where everything’s more friendly. In the States there’s more money, so things are more controlled.”
Still, this less personal, bigger-budget model is a holy grail for many.
“Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to try his luck in Hollywood?” said Danish d.p. Marcel Zyskind, who’s shot 10 films around the world with helmer Michael Winterbottom. “The chance to work on the kinds of films that inspired me to make films in the first place would be a dream come true. That, and the money.”
Some Scandinavians are also looking to get away from a bureaucratic system. “Making a feature film in Sweden is a constant struggle,” said d.p. Eric Maddison, a Swede who recently moved to L.A. and now has Hollywood representation. “There we’re always under the stress of getting money from the government, and all the rules and regulations that determine which movie is going to get funding. It’s frustrating.”
In contrast, “the Hollywood system is very efficient, with big crews, and everything moves really fast,” said another Swedish d.p., Eric Kress, who shot the original, 2009 version of “Girl” and is also repped in the U.S. “In Sweden we work slower and everybody on the crew helps everyone else out.”
He noted that the Swedish “Girl” was shot in 16 weeks by a crew working five days a week. Fincher’s pic, by contrast, is being shot over 145 days of mostly six-day shoots. “The Swedes don’t like to do weekends,” said Cronenweth, “but we’re going into six-day weeks.”
Other Scandinavians in transition include Iceland’s Ottar Gudnason, d.p. on Dermott Mulroney’s upcoming “Love, Wedding, Marriage.,” who’s secured a U.S. rep; and Swedish line producer Malte Forsell, who successfully made the switch from smaller pix to Fincher’s crew on “Girl.”
Meanwhile, Backar, whose career took off when a commercial he shot won the Cannes Lions grand prix in 2009, still hopes to break into Stateside feature work. Now repped in Hollywood, he says he may well be attached to such a project by year-end.
Bookings & Signings
iTalent signed editor Kent Beyda (“Yogi Bear”). Agency booked editors Jeff Betancourt on Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg’s “American Reunion” and Lance Anderson on CW pilot “Secret Circle”; production designer Cabot McMullen on NBC pilot “Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” NBC’s Kari Lizer pilot, and Fox pilot “Little in Common”; and d.p. Marco Fargonoli on Javier Aguilar’s “The Philly Kid.”
GSK & associates booked costume designers Luca Mosca on Daniel Barnz’s “Still I Rise,” Ariyela Wald-Cohain on Craig Moss’ “Bad Ass,” Mary McLeod on NBC pilot “17th Precinct” plus Amanda Friedland on Fox’s “Terra Nova” and pilot “Locke & Key”; and production designer Warren Alan Young on TNT’s “Hawthorne.”