Producer on the Move 2010 – Norway
by Annika Pham
Asle Vatn has over 15 years experience in film production. He worked for public institutions – such as commissioning editor for the Norwegian Film Institute – as well as private enterprises (Merkur Filmproduksjon) before setting up his own production company, Friland Film, with his partner Christian Fredrik Martin in 2002. The company has produced critically acclaimed feature films that include Sara Johnsen’s Kissed by Winter [+see also:
film profile] and Upperdog [+see also:
film profile]. Cineuropa: How exactly did you get into film production?
Asle Vatn: It started in 1993, when IBM came to Norway to make a huge commercial for the winter Olympics. I was lucky and made a fortune during the three weeks of filming. Later, I swept floors at film studios, worked as an assistant all over, before I finally got a job as production assistant in 1995. I stayed there for a few years, and was lucky again when I was offered a job at the Norwegian Film Institute’s production department.
What do you enjoy and hate the most about your job?
I really like setting goals and achieving them. I hate my work when I sense a feeling of being exploited.
Your work as producer was praised by Variety (among the Ten Producers to Watch in 2006) and now you’re Producer on the Move, just like your partner Christian Fredrik Martin in 2006. What does this mean to you?
This means that we are appreciated for what we do, and it gives us confidence. These industry recognitions make us interesting partners both in Norway and internationally.
Is it easier to find financing for your projects after eight years at the head of Friland Film and with several hits under your arm?
We started Friland when there was less local competition than there is today. Gaining access to government financing is therefore harder today than it was before. But of course as we are now regarded as one of the leading feature film companies in Norway, things are a bit easier on many levels.
Who are your regular production partners in Scandinavia and in Europe?
We have close links to our local distributor, Sandrew Metronome. They have always supported our projects and have a strong belief in what we do. We have been working with Nimbus Film in Denmark on a couple of projects, but we are not really tied up towards any partners when it comes to co-productions. We have to move around where the financing is, meaning that we have found partners to fit projects on an individual basis.
You’re working on a bigger project, Headhunters, co-produced by Yellow Bird. Is this a step forward for Friland, into more commercially driven films?
We have always tried to find projects that are aiming for a big audience, but we have never compromised on quality. Headhunters is no doubt a commercially driven project, but what interests me is making a high quality action thriller. To be able to make the film we intend to do, we need access to international financing. Working with Yellow Bird (producers of the Millennium trilogy) means working with a highly competent partner. The scale of the film is a step forward for us, but in financial terms, our other production, Jens Lien’s Theory and Practice – currently shooting – is a much more complicated project.
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