Signe Leick Jensen • Toolbox Film
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
04/05/2012 - Previously attached to Nimbus Film and Zentropa Entertainments, Danish producer Signe Leick Jensen’s 18-year career reads as modern Danish film history - she has worked with Dogme founders Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen and, most recently signed Bille August’s Marie Krøyer (with Karin Trolle, an SF Film production set for September release).
”True, von Trier and August are very different in their cinematic expressions, but there is not much difference in working with them,” she explained. ”They both know exactly what they want – they are extremely focused on what is important to their films. And when the focus is right, it makes a production much easier for all involved.”
At 19, Leick Jensen began as a production assistant – for Nimbus she made Vinterberg’s The Celebration (1998), It’s All About Love (2003), Ole Christian Madsen’s A Love Story (2001). At Zentropa she was line producer on von Trier’s Manderlay [trailer] (2005) and producer on The Boss of It All [trailer] (2006). Returning to Nimbus, she produced Louise Friedberg’s The Experiment (2010) and Madsen’s Superclásico [trailer] (2011).
Then you set up your own production company, Toolbox Film. What was missing?
Signe Leick Jensen: My partner, Morten Kaufmann, and I have worked together since 1994, on and off, and we know each other well – he has just produced Vinterberg’s The Hunt [trailer, film focus], which will screen in competition at Cannes. We both wanted to get back to a minor set-up, stick our feet under our own table, take responsibility for all processes of a film production, caring about even the smallest detail. The company is based on the experiences we have gained from producing the 15 films we are credited for, line-producing you-name-it – from low-budget films to major international movies. Toolbox Film can take projects a long way, and our compact outfit will guarantee a presence to the production which is sometimes missing.
What made you choose producing in the first place?
A producer should inspire, oppose, keep the momentum and create the frame for the artistic process which is filmmaking, and I find that inspiring. Your skills are constantly challenged and developed, it is rewarding and also good fun.
Anything you are particularly good at – and definitely not?
The advantage of having worked yourself up in the system – which I have - is that you have been in all corners of the filmmaking process, and I think I am pretty good at using these experiencescreatively in the development of a film. I am definitely not good at being involved in movies that do not move me – I simply lose interest.
Should we expect a new Dogme movement from your Toolbox?
You should never repeat history, it is uninteresting and meaningless. There is a lot of power in current Danish cinema – it is represented at the important festivals, wins international prizes (including Susanne Bier’s 2011 Oscar), controls a big share of the local market. The challenge now is to maintain this success and at the same time take risks. There must be room for new talent to make their qualified disasters – few directors start with a masterpiece – so they should be allowed a few shots in the gun and feel we believe in them.
What’s on now – and what’s next on your agenda?
I am currently participating in European Producers Workshop EAVE, about project development, networking and master classes with producers from all over the world, which has been extremely useful – hopefully the Producers on the Move programme in Cannes will be the same. Otherwise Toolbox Film is in the middle of preparing several exciting projects, but since we are in the middle of some sensitive negotiations I am afraid I cannot go more deeply into them.
Producers on the move is an initiative of the EUROPEAN FILM PROMOTION