When I ask this year’s Swedish Producer on the Move about her dream project she falls silent. Then comes the answer:
“It might sound boring, but if I get to realise the projects I currently have in the pipeline then I’ll be in a great position over the coming years. I’m working with some amazingly interesting auteurs, directors and screenwriters. But OK… I’d like there to be more money in Swedish film. And a film in the main competition at Cannes. And an Oscar…”
Back in her schooldays Frida Bargo wanted to be a dancer. She attended ballet classes, but soon got tired of looking at herself in the mirror and decided on a career in advertising. After ten years as a copywriter, she gave up her job on an impulse. Riding on the feeling that what she most enjoyed in the work was shooting commercials, she switched to film and started her own company in 2004.
“It was the best thing I ever did. As soon as I found my feet I knew that this was what I wanted.”
Bargo confirms that she has always been a natural project leader, an excellent quality for a good producer. She’s someone who gets energy from building teams of people with various key competencies and getting them to unite around a shared vision, a simmering blend of creativity, strength, energy, aspiration, drive and commitment. Pressed further, she names some of her other qualities: she never gives up, she’s intuitive, fearless, energetic and has a good sense of humour.
“Working in film is incredibly tough, so it’s therapeutic to have a laugh now and again. But I truly love being part of the whole process from A to Z. It’s the variation, where every detail counts, that I find so attractive.”
The projects that really set Frida Bargo’s producer heart racing are “films that you can’t help talking about, that you really feel, films that leave a burning impression.” They’re also the kind of films that she brings to the screen with creative people who challenge her intellect, thoughts and reflections.
Since 2011 she has been working at B-Reel Films. It’s a company with high ambitions both to reach out into the world and to achieve their maximum artistic and audience potential.
Recently she produced Peter Grönlund’s socio-political drama Drifters (Tjuvheder, 2015), which won a special mention at the San Sebastian Film Festival and went on to scoop five Guldbagge awards back home in Sweden.
This was followed by Pernilla August’s film version of Hjalmar Söderberg’s 1912 novel about love, A Serious Game (Den allvarsamma leken, 2016), which premiered at the Berlinale this February and is set for release in Sweden in September.
“Drifters was such a special project, a debut about a group of individuals of the type rarely seen in cinema, and with amateur actors in many of the roles. Then moving on from that to a film with a big budget and famous names, and watching one of the world’s best actresses (August) working as a director was really something.”
Looking ahead there will be a new film from Peter Grönlund (“He writes like a god and has just finished his first draft”). Plus two comedies – one a feature film and one a television series (“I want to make things that are really funny and moving at the same time”), both projects directed by Jens Sjögren and written by Klara Zimmergren and Sara Kadefors respectively.
But prior to that it’s Lisa Langseth’s new film Euphoria (Euforia) that she’s focussing on. Bargo and her colleague Patrik Andersson – the two of them also produced Langseth’s Hotell (2013) starring the Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander – are currently putting the funding for the project in place. Filming is set to start early this autumn.
“It’s a profound story about two sisters trying to reach out to each other on a trip close to the hardest questions in life. It will be very cinematic, full of both suffering and joy and we will shoot in the extremely beautiful Bavaria region in Germany.”
The film is an international coproduction, and the actors, who have yet to be revealed, are all well known.
“I first met Lisa when she pitched Hotell at us, and we really hit it off. She has one of the most amazing minds I’ve ever encountered and a very special sense of humour. She also has an ability to choose subjects that really challenge me.”
Previously published: Swedish Film # 2 2016