It all started with a trailer I saw quite by accident. I instantly fell in love with the intense and raw beauty of “Copenhagen”, staring the absolutely haunting Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon in Game of Thrones) and the talented young actress, Frederikke Dahl Hansen. One thing leading to another I got in touch with writer/director Mark Raso who accepted to do an interview about his movie.
I am extremely grateful that he took the time to answer my questions, for I know he’s quite busy at the moment, for personal reasons and also with the movie being released in theaters/VOD in less than a month.
Here is the original version of the interview but I will post a translation very soon for all my french followers, for the intent of this is to make the french audience aware of this wonderful film!
I sincerely hope it will help !
1- How did you come up with the idea of the movie, and how did you decide to make a film and not a short movie?
I had lived in Copenhagen for a year in 2007 (my wife is from there) and instantly fell in love with the city and the youthful energy it has. I tried to incorporate as much as my experience of the city in the film, however the story itself is not autobiographical. I work shopped it in classes at Columbia University until it felt right. I had made 5 short films before Copenhagen, and the success of my last short called UNDER, which won the Student Academy Award in 2012, gave me the confidence to finally take on trying to make a feature film.
2 - About the writing process, which character do you feel the closest to? Is the story total fiction or is there a part of your personal history in it?
The story is fiction, although I did take a lot from my experiences in Copenhagen. I can relate to both characters, but it was my own personal journey to understand my past, so as not to make the same mistakes raising my son that my parents may have made with me, that inspired me to go deep into the main character William’s (Gethin Anthony) choices and personal journey. In terms of Effy (Frederikke Dahl Hansen), I think she represents the youthful, adventurous side that I would like to go to more often in life. Writing for her was tremendously fun and she was so good bringing the character to life.
3 - Regarding the casting, how did it go? Was Gethin Anthony and Frederikke Dahl Hansen your first choices? Their chemistry on screen is pretty remarkable ! Just from watching the trailer it gives you shivers.
Casting was a very long process, it took a while before we found the right cast. The movie is such a performance piece that I had to feel 100% confident in who we went with. I was fortunate to be introduced to Gethin through a friend of a friend, and he taped his addition and nailed it. I knew after about 30 seconds he was the guy. But we had him do a few more tapings and I got on skype with him just to feel him out. Because what we were doing is very intimate it was also about finding out how he would mesh with the team. We also needed him to be a leader and embrace the independent nature of the film. It turned out he is both a great actor and a great person, and he was tireless and did everything we asked and more.
We cast Frederikke through auditions in Copenhagen and her audition was the most impressive audition I have ever been a part of. I felt knots in my stomach watching her, she was so intense and embodied the character. This was her third feature film and for her first one she was nominated for a Bodil (Danish Oscar) and for her second film she won a Bodil (Danish Oscar) so it is not surprising that her performance in Copenhagen is amazing.
We unfortunately only had one day to rehearse, so they did not know each other before. But we scheduled the film so that we were 3 weeks into filming before we got to the scenes where we needed their chemistry to be there. And they had it. We were lucky in one aspect, but they are both really nice, genuine people so it is natural that they would get along and connect.
4 - The movie already won several prizes and got excellent reviews, you must be very proud ! How do you feel a larger audience will respond when it is released this fall? It is a subject that can touch everyone..
Will the movie be released only in the US or in Europe too?
Not only am I proud, I am a little bit shocked. Just making the movie was the accomplishment in my mind and I didn’t really know what to expect after that. The fact that people really enjoy it and that it has touched so many people is fantastic.
I hope audiences will enjoy it. Gethin’s character is pretty unlikeable, so for some people that is hard to stomach at first, but my overall feeling is that people are very excited about the film. The response has been great, so I hope that continues. It is a very small movie so the fact that it has already had so much success is tremendous.
The film has it’s US theatrical and VOD release on Oct 3rd. We are currently working to make it available in Europe, although it most likely will not be in theaters there, but hopefully it becomes available on some platform. We will know more in the next few months. Join our facebook page, follow us on twitter or look at the films website for more information.