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Louise Vesth • Producer

“Lars von Trier is a huge brand”


- Zentropa’s Louise Vesth describes Nymphomaniac’s unusual promotional and distribution strategy, while Lars von Trier sticks to his vow of silence

Louise Vesth • Producer

The two parts of Lars von Trier’s highly anticipated new film Nymphomaniac [+see also:
film review
interview: Louise Vesth
film profile
 is reaching European screens in the upcoming weeks. As Denmark’s enfant terrible sticks to his vow of silence – following a pointless statement with unexpected consequences during the press conference of Melancholia [+see also:
film review
interview: Lars von Trier
film profile
 in Cannes 2011 – a big campaign has been set up to promote the film which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg and newcomer Stacy Martin. Zentropa producer Louise Vesth describes the film’s unusual promotional and distribution strategy.

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Cineuropa: How was Nymphomaniac’s promotional campaign developed?
Louise Vesth: It started some years ago; I thought that we had to put a little bit more effort in the marketing of Lars’ films. I think that Lars Von Trier is a huge brand and Zentropa didn’t use it enough to market his films and his ideas so I decided that going to Cannes and having one poster was not enough. I decided to have a much longer and widespread campaign and therefore I went with this idea to Philip Lipski, with whom I made other campaigns, who’s very good with untraditional ideas. That’s how it started. Then we found out that Nymphomaniac was such a huge project that we couldn’t possibly make it for Cannes, which meant that we had much more time to make a campaign this time than we used to.

As the movie script was deconstructed in 2 volumes and 8 chapters, we thought about deconstructing the campaign in the same way as well: as a countdown. We decided to have one press release every month with the title of the chapter, a short description of the chapter, a picture from the chapter and a small clip that could involve the audience more in what the film was all about. So we had the poster campaign with a lot of different posters and then the press campaign, which had to tell more about the content of the film.

What will the distribution strategy be?
It had a lot of sales around the world. Because of the explicit content we made the decision from the start, even before the production actually started, to make two versions of the movie: one with the most explicit scenes and another one with less explicit scenes. Anyhow in both versions obviously there are sex and explicit sex scenes. The decision was made also because of the length: the longer version is 5 hours and a half, which squeezes the distribution possibilities. That’s why we also had the so-called “short version” of 4 hours, divided into two parts. The shorter version can work in most territories but there will still be some that need to censor something.

Why this atypical format? Did you think about having mini-series out of the film?
Yes, we will have series out of it. We are planning to do a series for Internet distribution as well.

We now have a global film industry that is still divided into lots of territories, but we are also getting closer to one another. We get the chance to see more and more movies from foreign countries and the world is in a way getting smaller and bigger at the same time so I think that if we are producing films in small markets like Denmark, we need to make sure we have the best possibilities of distributing outside of Denmark.

Will there be specific strategies targeted on countries?
The marketing campaign is global, meaning that we are using the same marketing elements all over the world. So we made a global strategy from the start, so that each distributor in each territory can then pick the items they want from the campaign. We have all kind of different elements in this campaign so that distributors could choose for themselves which one they wanted to use. We wanted distributors to be able to develop their own strategy picking the items that they perceive to be better for their territories in order to get the film out to the audience.

What was the role of social networks?
We already started that. We had a lot of responses from the social media because of our marketing. I think that in a marketing campaign social media is one of the elements that you need, as a production company, to involve the audience and create elements that they want to share, that they want to talk about. One should not just go traditional by putting a poster in a cinema, one has to involve the audience as early as possible. Of course, this is easy to say when you have Lars Von Trier, who’s already known, but one is still responsible for increasing that notoriety through elements that make people talk about it. I think that awareness of your product is one of the most important things and you can only create awareness by sharing on social media, so that people start talking about it. That’s of course a very important part of the strategy.

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