"Teamwork Is Key"

FILM PEOPLE. The new head of the National Film School of Denmark is a well-liked and experienced person in the Danish film industry. Vinca Wiedemann, Lars von Trier's story supervisor on "Nymphomaniac", points to the school as a foundation for the success of Danish cinema.

Vinca Wiedemann participated in the 2014 Berlinale as the producer of Pernille Fischer Christensen's "Someone You Love." Wiedemann also co-wrote Lars von Trier's screenplay for "Nymphomaniac". In years past, she served as script consultant on films by directors like Thomas Vinterberg and Susanne Bier.

"The public is always hungering for the next von Trier, but it's far from certain that anyone would even want to be compared to him" – Vinca Wiedemann

On 1 March, Wiedemann will be assuming her new position as head of the National Film School of Denmark. Then she will no longer be collaborating directly with established Danish film directors but prompting future filmmakers to find their own voices and their own stories. The appointment has met with wide approval in the Danish film community, as leading directors and producers point out her eye for good art, her ability to draw out talent, her multidisciplinary knowledge of the craft of filmmaking and her excellent national and international network.

An "industry" school

"It gives me a huge boost to know that people are supporting my appointment at the Film School. It signals how much importance people in the business place on the school and how much they attribute their own success to it," Wiedemann says.

The National Film School, she says, is more central to the local film industry than film schools in other countries. An industry school, she calls it. Not because the industry exerts pressure on the school, but on the contrary, because the school has such a big influence on the look of Danish films.

As an example, Wiedemann mentions the Dogme wave and its ideals of filmmakers challenging themselves through creative obstacles. Such methods were familiar to many of the people involved from their time at the school. "There is a lot of respect around what the Film School can do," Wiedemann says. "Most filmmakers are eager to teach there. There is a lot of curiosity about the students at the school, a lot of whom go straight to jobs in the industry after graduation."

Everyone contributes as storytellers

Wiedemann points out the National Film School's ideal of teamwork as a unique thing.

All programmes offered at the Film School are of equal length and all disciplines are considered equal. Editors are involved already during the screenwriting stage and sound design isn't sidelined at a technical school somewhere else in town.

"We think of sound design as art and not as a question of the number of tracks. It's important that everyone is involved as storytellers or at least co-tellers of the story. Instead of hunkering down in a profession or hierarchy, everyone contributes to the team," Wiedemann says.

"The collaborative tradition has honed our ability to think of low budgets as a tool for the imagination and come up with inventive solutions instead of getting frustrated. It's a strong tradition because it's founded in the Film School. That makes the school unique compared to most other schools in the world."

Wiedemann is looking forward to continuing the tradition, though she also thinks it's important not to let the legacy weigh down future filmmakers.

"The public is always hungering for the next von Trier, but it's far from certain that anyone would even want to be compared to him. If nothing else, it makes it harder for the new generations to define themselves. We should create a free space where people don't have to compare themselves to today's big hitters".

Vinca Wiedemann takes over as head of the National Film School on 1 March 2014. She is replacing Poul Nesgaard, who has held the position since 1992.

This is an edited version of an article published in FILM Berlin Issue 2014.

Vinca Wiedemann

Vinca Wiedemann, 54, trained as a film editor at the National Film School of Denmark and later taught there (1990-95). Wiedemann joined the Danish Film Institute in 1999 as Feature Film Commissioner. In 2003, she established the New Danish Screen talent development programme at the DFI and served as its first artistic director.

From 2007, Wiedemann worked as an independent script consultant, producer and writer. In 2010, she joined Zentropa as creative producer, signing such films as Susanne Bier's Oscar winner "In a Better World" and Pernille Fischer Christensen's "A Family" and "Someone You Love". As story supervisor, Wiedemann is behind such titles as Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt" and Susanne Bier's "Love Is All You Need". She worked closely with Lars von Trier on his screenplays for "Melancholia" and "Nymphomaniac".

The National Film School of Denmark

A state school funded by the Danish Ministry of Culture, the National Film School offers programmes in film, TV, scriptwriting and animation directing. Total enrolment is around 100. All lines of study are four-year programmes, except for the two-year scriptwriting programme. Founded in 1966 by Theodor Christensen, the school is located on the islet of Frederiksholm in Copenhagen Harbour. Se more at filmskolen.dk.

Visit afgangsfilm.dk to find out more about the graduates of 2013.