P.O.V. No.19 - NATAN

An interview with Carina Ekman (producer) on Natan

Richard Raskin

At exactly what point in the development of the project did you become involved in it?

Natan was one of 80 proposals that we had to choose among for the project "8x8." I had produced Jonas Bergergård's first short Flytten (The Move) and was very interested in seeing him carry out a new project. It was also interesting to see what would happen if he worked together with Jonas Holmström who had directed A Brother Comes for a Visit with support from Film i Värmland. They are long-time friends. "8x8" quite simply meant that what we wanted was eight shorts that would each be eight minutes long. So I was involved from the very beginning of Natan, and I fought for it in the group that chose the projects. Not exactly for Natan but to enable Jonas and Jonas to go for their idea.

I understand that there was no definitive screenplay before production on the film began. But was the storyline fairly well established, or was that also improvised during the shoot?

The idea that Jonas and Jonas sent in was that they, inspired by a documentary workshop, wanted to start filming four different stories, just go out with a camera and use some friends as actors and try to find out which of the stories gave them the most energy. And they ended up doing Natan. There was a kind of script from the beginning, a short story, but it was not the same story. Natan has elements of that original story, but Jonas and Jonas decided to follow their characters, kind of travel with them. The end of the story was the most difficult part, both as they shot it (I think Jonas and Jonas will tell you more about that part) and in the editing. We had long discussions about that, and we finally agreed that it was most important that Natan be the winner in the end, that he should decide to stay with the woman and do it.

Can you tell me whatever you remember of the production of Natan - any details at all, both about your own role in the process, and also about anything else that might interest someone wishing to know about the genesis of this film?

My role was to arrange everything as smoothly as possible for the two directors. I took care of the financial part, which wasn't much work, since this really is a low budget project. They used 80 000 SKR to make the DV version of the film. When it was accepted at Clermont-Ferrand, the Swedish Film Institute financed the 35 mm print, and when it won the Grand Prize we shared the costs for six more prints with the institute.

I gave them advice and looked at their edits. They had made a film before Natan that was a more painful story about relationships. The main character in that story was not so willing to continue with it, he was "undressed" literarily and was, I think, afraid of what he saw. The stories that they make are close to documentary, since they create the stories very much from the characters that they work with. Anyway, they put that project aside, and started to shoot Natan. I was also involved as an extra, it was the day they were shooting the scene in the grill bar and they phoned me and said they needed a few people to stand in line in front of the grill bar. So almost the entire staff of Film i Värmland stood there. You can see on their faces that they really are wondering about what is going on.

Can you tell me what you, as the producer, see as the special qualities of this prize-winning film?

This is a quite simple story, about a "young" man who has difficulties in getting a job, and another man who has too much to do but lets himself get involved in this young man's life. And a woman who can see the young man as he is. It is something that we can identify with, and very important for me, the one who seems to be the loser is the winner in the end. I think if you dare telling the simple stories that you can find in your neighbourhood, and don't try to complicate them, you will find an audience all over the world that can identify with the characters. In the provincial theme lives the universal understanding.

Jonas Bergergård is about to finish his next short film Myra. From what I have seen so far it has real possibilities to be a good film. We are co-producers of this film, the producer is Rickard Petrelius at Filmcompaniet, a production company in Karlstad. We have been involved in the project since 1999 when Jonas B won first prize in our script-competition with Myra. This is a film with a budget of 1.2 million Swedish crowns and both the Swedish Film Institute and Swedish Television are involved in the project. I think the success with Natan made this possible.

16 November 2004

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