The Perfect Producer...
I had a wonderful dream yesterday that I met the perfect documentary producer. Oh yes… all of you directors are going to say!
The good news is: it was not a dream. She comes under the name of Sigrid Dyekjaer, and is the most funny, bright, energetic, sexy woman going round. Do I sound envious? Oh yes, but it is nice envy, because it makes me all the more attentive to what she has to say. And yesterday at a special SDI masterclass she talked for nearly three hours to an audience who could hardly allow themselves to breathe with fear that she may disappear in a puff of smoke. But no, she was solid, real and fed her crowd tenderly with lovely morsels of wisdom.
She used her latest productions (The Monastery, Mechanical Love, and The Good Life) as case studies for various aspects of production and documentary storytelling for cinema. But the main interest for me was her approach to the process of production. The blurring between development, research, production, and even post-production as a strategy is very inspiring. In her company Danish Documentary which she runs with four talented directors (Phie Ambo, Eva Mulvad, Pernille Rose Gronkjaer, Mikala Krogh) the fact that trailers are working tools not just for marketing but for the director to work out what the story really is, and for this exercise to be done many times during the long period of filming and editing, is a given. "Masterpieces take time and cannot be rushed" is the philosophy of the house, and the ambition to make films for cinema with a universal appeal.
She is a mistress of budgets, deals, marketing, no detail too small for her. But above all her strength as a producer comes from her ability to fully engage with the creative demands and decisions to be taken in order to have a successful international film. That creative ambition on behalf the director and the project is what makes her an exceptional producer. But all this can only be achieved if the director is also driven by the film and not egos. And there again she comes up trumps with a great team of four terrific female directors who out-do each other with each new film.
Despite being terribly busy, Sigrid keeps accepting our invitations to come over to Edinburgh and to collaborate with us. I had a dream that this friendship across borders will go on forever.
The Good Life premieres in IDFA on 20 November.
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