Nordic production powerhouse Miso Film (“The Investigation”), which looks to make a splash at the Berlinale Series with its daring HBO Max show “Lust,” is developing high-end international dramas with Scandinavian creatives such as Pilou Asbæk (“Borgen”), Ole Bornedal (“Nightwatch”) and Fenar Ahmad (“Darkland”). The company is part of Fremantle.
Ahead of the Berlinale, Miso founders Peter Allen and Jonas Bose discussed with Variety their ambition to find new voices and original ways to tell stories. The duo launched the company in 2004 and produced a flurry of iconic Swedish thriller and crime series, including “Beck” and “Wallander,” as well as the hit Danish TV series “Those Who Kill,” “Dicte” and “1864.”
The company’s development roster includes a crime series written by “Dicte” episode screenwriter Christian Gamst for Netflix; as well as Ole Bornedal’s TV debut, “Euroland”, a dystopian crime series set in 2034. “Euroland” takes place in a world where refugees coming from Africa to Europe are being contained in a sub-society called Euroland. Currently at script stage, the series will follow a detective who is sent to Euroland to investigate crimes.
“In this series, we deal with the refugee situation, and we look at how we act as human beings,” said Bose, who cited “Blade Runner” and “Mad Max” as inspirations. Miso Film produced Bornedal’s last three films, including the WW2 drama “The Bombardment.”
Another series currently being developed is “A Marriage,” which was brought to Miso Film by actor Pilou Asbæk. “It’s a drama series about modern society, about a marriage and a divorce, and how your life isn’t always as expected,” said Bose about the project.
The pair said “A Marriage” and “Lust” illustrate their commitment to work as closely as possible with talents, including actors, to come up with authentic stories that have a strong angle.
For instance, the original idea behind Swedish original comedy series “Lust” came to Miso Film and producer Sandra Harms from Sofia Helin (“The Bridge”) and Åsa Kalmér, Dufvenius and Lundqvist. Miso then tapped Frans Milisic Wiklund to write the script in collaboration with the leading actors, who star as four middle-aged women in Stockholm struggling to keep their libidos alive in a sexually frustrating world.
The series’ development started about four years ago and filming was delayed be-cause of COVID. “We spent quite a lot of money to make it safe and the fact that we were able to do it in these circumstances is a huge achievement,” said Bose.
“This path is a great way to get the actors involved in the creative process,” said the producers. Allen said HBO was “brave when they jumped on this show” because of the radical way it tackles the sexuality of women in their 40s. “It’s not that graphic but we’re showing the naked truth in a way, and that truth isn’t explicit. It’s about what’s on our mind, it’s about how you’re dealing with sex when you’re in your 40s,”
The producers said Miso Film has thrived with shows that have “new angles” and making “creatively brave choices.”
Miso Film, which has been on the forefront of the Nordic Noir trend with shows like “Darkness: Those Who Kill” and “Dicte: Crime Reporter,” also delivered Scandinavia’s first original Netflix series “The Rain,” a post-apocalyptic young adult drama.
“We’ve done a lot of Nordic noir shows and every time we try to push the boundaries in some way, we did it with ‘The Investigation,’ written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, where it could have been a graphic, horrifying story and we took another route and didn’t show the perpetrator at all,” said Allen.
The banner, which just started shooting the third season of “Those Who Kill” and is about to begin filming Season 3 of “Face to Face” with Lars Mikkelsen, recently shot Norwegian sci-fi comedy “Blasted,” for Netflix.
“Streamers have opened up new possibilities for genre,” said Allen. “The film is now in post and is a mix of science fiction and comedy with a lot of CGI,” added Allen.
He and Bose said working with streaming series has also allowed them to explore new grounds. “Streaming services can be braver with niche series because they have global audiences, so they’re not limited to a single market like broadcasters are,” said Allen.