B-Reel Films, the hip Stockholm-based banner behind some of Scandinavia’s most ambitious films and TV shows, from Mikael Marcimain’s “Gentlemen” to Pernilla August’s “A Serious Game,” recently ventured into the ultra-competitive English-language movie landscape with Lisa Langseth’s “Euphoria,” starring Alicia Vikander, Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling, and is developing a flurry of more upscale projects.
B-Reel Films is coming off a busy start of the year, having just won two Swedish Guldbagge Awards (Sweden’s equivalent of the Oscars) for “A Serious Game” including supporting actor for Michael Nyqvist. And on the TV side, the shingle’s first Nordic noir series “Before We Die” launched to hit ratings on Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT.
The company has two movies in post: “Euphoria,” which reteams Langseth and Vikander after the critically acclaimed “Hotel,” as well “Bergman,” a feature-length doc about Ingmar Bergman directed by Jane Magnuson. The film is co-produced by Charles Collier and Alicia Vikander’s recently launched Vikarious Films.
The outfit is a sister company of B-Reel, a 21-year-old creative agency with offices in L.A, N.Y, London, Berlin, Barcelona, and Stockholm, and a client list including some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Facebook, Google, and Nike.
“BRF is a creative hub for great storytellers of all sorts,” says Pelle Nilsson, co-founder and global CEO of B-Reel Films’ Los Angeles office. “We feel that we have a great position in Scandinavia and now it’s time to strengthen the team in the U.S.” with producers from Hollywood.
Patrik Andersson, B-Reel Films’ head of development and producer, says going the English-language route may not be the golden ticket, but in the case of “Euphoria,” “it created a whole new canvas for Langseth to work with.”
“If the scale of the budget, the scale of the subject matter, and the international scope of a production as a whole calls for it, making the film in the English language is necessary to stick with the filmmaker’s creative vision,” he says.
Since the company has already built a robust global presence through B-Reel’s digital business for the past decade, Fredrik Heinig, who co-founded the outfit and runs the film division, says it made complete sense to dive into the international scene with movies and TV production as well.
In a market as concentrated and competitive as Scandinavia, going global is crucial, as is establishing long-term relationships with filmmakers and talent who are more and more lured by Hollywood producers.
Since B-Reel Films is involved in branded content and commercials, as well as feature films, TV shows and docs, the company has been forging ties with cross-discipline directors, notably Marcimain, Kristian Petri, Agnes-Lo Åkerlind and Peter Grönlund.
Among the raft of exciting English-language and Swedish projects in B-Reel Films’ pipeline:
* “Goliath,” a socio-political drama-thriller directed by Grönlund (“Drifters”) about a teenage boy taking over the shady business of his criminal father.
*“Midsommar,” an esoteric folk horror film based on Swedish Midsummer traditions, conceived by B-Reel Films and to be penned and directed by Ari Aster (“The Strange Thing About the Johnsons”).
*”Traces,” an ambitious political thriller based on Lena Sundström’s award-winning novel and penned by Sara Nameth (“The Yard”) and directed by Jesper Ganslandt (“The Ape”).
“Our outspoken aim has always been to make sure we maintain our diversity as a production company, working with creative new formats and young exciting talent on feature films, docs and TV series,” Andersson says.
Speaking of the company’s greatest digital hits, Andersson cites the interactive horror story “Doritos Hotel 626”; an interactive music video for Google and Canadian band Arcade Fire called “The Wilderness Downtown”; and a branded short film for Toshiba Ultrabook called “The Beauty Inside.”
“We believe that the gap between the advertising and entertainment world is closing in and that being at the intersection is extremely exciting in terms of possibilities of financing, distribution and new creative thinking,” Nilsson says.
In line with its desire to broaden its scope beyond Scandinavia’s borders, B-Reel Films has been teaming up with foreign sales agents, notably Wild Bunch, The Match Factory and MK2. Wild Bunch is a partner on “Euphoria” via its German distribution arm and Match Factory is a strong partner on its ambitious Bergman doc. “Euphoria,” for instance, is being sold by Great Point Media and U.K.-based film exec Jim Reeve. Going forward, Heinig says the doors of B-Reel Films remain wide open for new talent.
“We hope to achieve a place where you really want to go as a filmmaker and where innovation is key,” Heinig says.