00:00:01: NADIA: Welcome to Industry Insights - The EFM Podcast presented by the European Film Market of the Berlinale. My name is Nadia Denton. I'm a curator, and impact producer based in London.
00:00:15: This season of Industry Insights - The EFM Podcast puts a spotlight on highly topical and trend setting industry issues, creating a compass for the forthcoming film year.
00:00:15: The year-round podcast is produced in cooperation with Goethe Institute and co-funded by Creative Europe MEDIA.
00:00:15: I am thrilled to be joined for this episode of Insights with the force of nature that is Helene Granqvist. Helene is an award-winning producer of film and television who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. She is an international pitch coach and since 2018 has been the president of Women in Film and Television International.
00:00:15: She will join me to share some new concepts around the complex and urgent topic of sustainable leadership. Today we start with the bigger picture and will interrogate the theme in order to understand the root of the current problems that face us in the context of sustainability and inclusion as a society and industry.
00:01:18: It is from this that we hope to discover practical future proofing solutions for the audiovisual industry. This episode is a starting point of a series on sustainable leadership, which will be continued throughout the course of next year.
00:01:18: Welcome Helene.
00:01:34: HELENE: Hi, thanks for having me Nadia.
00:01:36: NADIA: So, the Nordic Factory of which you are one of the founders has this year initiated New Nordic Narrative Labs. The labs aim to inspire creators to use sustainability inclusion and outreach as a launchpad for story development. And it is from some of these discussions from the labs that we are going to have this conversation today.
00:01:36: So when we speak of sustainable leadership, what do we mean?
00:02:02: HELENE: I think my most important way of describing sustainability comes from Gro Harlem Brundtland who was the, who defined that sustainability is to fulfil the needs of today, without challenging for future generations to fulfil their needs.
00:02:02: But it's also to balance factors of social, environmental, cultural and economical factors, which is super theoretical, but in a way in a world where we are very focused on economical dimensions, it is to be aware. To create a sustainable world, we need to see a bigger picture.
00:02:44: NADIA: You argue that many of the inclusion and environmental problems that we face emanate from the same source and I believe that this is tied up with some of the arguments you make about new ways of looking at sustainable leadership.
00:02:56: HELENE: Yes, I think to understand sustainability and of course it's what's on my truth.
00:02:56: Maybe not other people's truth, but I think a very strong truth for me, is that no one who lives today have ever experienced to live in a world that is sustainable.
00:03:22: Meaning we are living in structures that makes it impossible for us to create sustainability.
00:03:22: And these structures, the overall picture that I think you're referring to is that we are very much carrying a 100% narrative, meaning that (and this is very often unconscious) we have implemented in our bodies, an idea that man is in top of the chain, and the rest of people, animals, species and nature are resources in hand of the man to be used to create growth.
00:04:09: And this 100% perspective is also perspective that allows patriarchy, colonialization and capitalistic narratives. Once again very theoretical, but seeing this bigger picture where a lack of inclusion or environmental problem are symptoms but they're not really the problem. The problem emanates from a source and a worldview, how we look at the world and that's what's put inclusion and environment problems close to each other if we are interesting to create a sustainable world. And from my point of view, if you want to change something, you need to have an idea what is the root of the problem. And that's what I'm referring to. The root of the problem is an idea that we are carrying more or less conscious that there are some people that has a bigger value than other people. And some people that has a bigger value than nature.
00:05:20: NADIA: It's fascinating, particularly when we consider it in the context of the hero's journey.
00:05:25: HELENE: Yes, so you play that, but yeah, very much of the way, we look at and once again, we belong in a landscape of film and TV-making where, intuition and gut feeling and emotions are really strong tools and they should be because what we do, we work on, we work with emotions to - so to say - entertain or to scare or whatever purpose we have with our films or TV series, but,
00:05:25: very much also we have these dramaturg ideas that are also internalized in our spines.
00:05:25: How do you tell a story? What is the story? And very much of this is based on the hero's journey, because the hero's journey is in a way the most normal way of telling a story. But the fact is if we are stacked to hero's journey, there are theories that say it's impossible for women or people of color to be the main character of the story which of course makes it interesting to challenge the hero's journey as a model and to really think why do I feel, like I do about the story, why do I react and why is my gut feeling referring to a story in this way too.
00:05:25: So I think we are living in a time of history, if we want sustainability where we really need to investigate why we feel and why we do as we do.
00:07:00: NADIA: In all that you've proposed, this - the investigation so - are the difficult bit that's, you know, getting people onto that journey and supporting them to make those changes just seems such a big challenge. And it feels like people would experience a great amount of emotional displacement. What are some of the sort of tools and mechanisms that you and your colleagues have been able to develop as part of the labs to help people to reconsider their position in society and the benefits of sustainable leadership.
00:07:28: HELENE: I think I will answer that question, but I would like to start because when Valeria Richter, my colleague, and I started our process, it was based on a time in our lives where we really wanted to find out what is important for us, what do we want to do, what do we want to use our skills and etc.
00:07:28: So it was very much based on… that we put our sum of knowledge and experience together. And there were some things we could find that were similar to us. We have always worked with talent and with story development that has been in our lives for many years.
We have had a tendency to be first movers where we try new things, so it's also in our personalities, but it was also a huge need for us to be part of a bigger picture. That we felt that we in a way was floating on an island instead of – so to say - see the landscape. So from our side and the conversation we started in between the two of us was really to try to identify: what does this time do to people and to us? Because we know there are huge environmental problems, we know we have huge problems with inclusion, we know there are so many things that, makes us.. we are not feeling safe. It's really unsafe and unclear what's going to happen etcetera.
We have had a tendency to be first movers where we try new things, so it's also in our personalities, but it was also a huge need for us to be part of a bigger picture. That we felt that we in a way was floating on an island instead of – so to say - see the landscape. So from our side and the conversation we started in between the two of us was really to try to identify: And then we decide that the word we were looking for was confusion. We are really confused because we don't know what's going to happen. And that's what do we do.
We have had a tendency to be first movers where we try new things, so it's also in our personalities, but it was also a huge need for us to be part of a bigger picture. That we felt that we in a way was floating on an island instead of – so to say - see the landscape. So from our side and the conversation we started in between the two of us was really to try to identify: But then we also refer to this feeling of confusion as something that we have experienced many times when we work with story development. So in a way it's a familiar feeling, but when it comes to our lives, it's more scary in a way. But what we know from artistic processes is that is important not to be afraid of confusion.
So we promised each other: let's stay confused.
So we promised each other: But to be conscious confused and to invite other people to share this feeling of being conscious confused together with us. So that was in a way the starting point because we don't have any answers, but we have a huge will and a strong energy to feel that we can be part of a change that we think we all need.
So we promised each other: So what we do in the New Nordic Narrative, the tools we, in a way, that are new because what we did was to create a lab that in a way is like a lab that many people who has been in labs has experienced before. We invite four projects in treatment stage, read each other project and meet in a room. And then give feedback and discuss each other's project: story worlds, characters, journeys, etcetera.
So we promised each other: But what we did was also to collaborate with experts on sustainability and mostly based on environmental sustainability, to give a crash course. What is sustainability? For 30 minutes.
So we promised each other: And then give feedback with the gaze of sustainability on a story.
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: crash course about inclusion. Including the idea of otherness that refers back to what I said in the beginning. If we have an overall unconscious narrative that tell us that someone is more worth than another creates this feeling of otherness, and, that has been something that has been really discussed in the labs.
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: What is otherness and what does it mean? And how can it be portrayed or not portrayed in a story?
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: And how can it be used or not used in a story and why?
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: So… and then we also have this inclusion expert to give feedback on the story with that case. And then we have worked with PR audience design gaze to see how do our stories really… (crash course there as well) but how do your stories relate to the audience? To increase the relation to the audience. But also with the idea that these factors is necessary to see and include in your story development if you want to be relevant for an audience of today. You don't do it only to be kind, you do it because you want to, you want to be relevant and you want success because that was also something we discussed.
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: Doesn't matter who you are in this ecosystem of film and TV, we all want success. Then the face of success can have different looks, but we all want success. But I think what is common for all kinds of success today is to see this bigger picture.
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: NADIA: And from those conversations that were held, it sounds like there were perhaps the development of a nugget of theories or models in terms of sustainable development.
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: Can you share some of those with us?
Then we do the same thing with inclusion: HELENE: Yeah, I'm always sensitive, I know I have models and we have models but I'm always sensitive to refer to models. So… but what I think is the most important is to reflect on… and that is definitely a model, so I will answer you. To reflect on their amount of impact, one experience that one have. And that was something that we found out that it really is a really variety, how big impact we feel that we have and we looked at impact in four dimensions.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: how much impact do you feel that you have in relation to your project?
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: Usually it's quite high as well, between 6 and 10. We think that we can influence our project. Of course depending on which position of formal power you see yourself in, but even if people - so to say - have maybe a lower position, still they have this feeling that they can impact.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: But then comes the tricky questions, because then we ask about the audience and the public. How big impact do you feel that you have in relation to the public? And there we see a pattern that it’s super low. It's usually between 2 and 4.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: And people doesn't see that what they do really affects or have an impact, which I find super interesting. And then the fourth dimension is the planet dimension. How big impact do you see yourself having when it comes to impact the planet? Also usually very low.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: Then if I go back and reflect on these answers in relation to the first description I have that we all live in this ‘unconscious idea’ of 100% that man is in top of the chain.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: The alternative and the sustainable alternative to the 100% perspective is the eco-centric perspective that all existing people, species, animals, nature are coexisting together and are reliant on each other. That we are all connected even if we can't see… if we were trees, we would know that there were routes that connected us, but as humans, we can't see this connection, but in a way, it's a holistic idea that you and I are in a way this in the same connected to the same body so to say.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: And this idea is really interesting to think of, if you think of the answers to these four questions about impact. Are you following my theory? It's a bit theoretical. So if we are connected with nature, shouldn't my impact have a possibility to be higher?
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: And of course, once again and same thing with audience, but I think what we have done in the landscape of film and TV making is always to wish that my story, my film, will reach out to an audience because I think all storytellers want their stories to reach an audience. But then the thing is, we can't control it, we can only wish for it. And I think this area where we don't have control is really the most important area in this time of history. In a way to decide that I want to have my impact in this field of not knowing.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: Because what do we do when we don't know, because we don't know what's gonna happen. So what kind of decision? And it can be interesting… once I have met the person when I asked this impact question and she said, so how do you see a thing?
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: And she said 10, 10, 10, 10. Oh my God, it's the first time I hear that question, you know what she said? But I'm a woman of color and I can't afford to put my impact lower. And that made a very strong impact on me because I don't know what kind of experiences, she referred to, but she definitely made an impact to me, giving me that answer. Because that was a decision. I'm here to be part of the change and nothing gonna stop me. And I think this kind of finding that inside yourself, it's not maybe not easy for everyone, but I think that is something we have met in our labs, but also in our work as coaches. When people do stories, because to create a story is a super sensitive and difficult and challenging process. And then on top of that to find their…to find your own impact, to reach out with this story. It's not easy. It is not easy. But when you find it, when you find this purpose that my story needs to go out there because this story can something with an audience can something with the world, I think you also feel very empowered inside yourself, which I think we all need. And we can help each other to feel empowered, yeah.
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: NADIA: Well it's only encouraging that there is a sense of empowerment that comes as a result of the process because it certainly seems that, you know, to step into sustainable leadership requires quite a significant psychological shift. And I suppose there's an aspect of that that is what would be quite challenging or difficult for a lot of individuals who might be listening to this and even considering some of the points that you’ve put forward,
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: What I'm also curious about is in practice, how would you say that gatekeepers and industry leaders are gonna need to behave differently? So we've talked a bit about some of the thought processes and the structures, but what about the actual behaviours?
My personal impact as Helene in my life with my family. How much impact do I have scale 1 to 10? And usually people answer quite high. It's arranged between 7 and 10. Most of us feel that we can impact our lives. Then we ask: HELENE: Yeah, but that's a very good question, Nadia. And of course when we started our first lab though, we work with screenwriters and producers. And one thing that we was worried about was that people would have a feeling that we will… it will be a conflict for artistic freedom to get this knowledge input. So we were very, very aware like chicken mothers going around how do you feel and how to get and they said: “no, no, no, it's the opposite, we get inspiration out of this”. And then of course we asked: “but what do you experience as challenging for artistic freedom?”
And it was very obvious: the funding systems. The funding systems is really what artists very often and producers find challenging for artistic freedom, but also for work for sustainability and inclusion.
And it was very obvious: So, I think the question you are now putting, I think we are in a time of history where we really need to demand from decision makers to school themselves, in these subjects. Because the knowledge basis, it's not enough. It's not. That is a fact. And of course, as every system, as you refer to the hero's journey, that is a system, a dramaturgical system, we have our habits and system, this is how we fund things. This is why we found things.
And it was very obvious: We really need to ask new questions, more questions. And also open up the discussion to decide that the systems we have right now are not sustainable. And they are not. If we want sustainability, there are so much change needed. So, it's a difficult question, of course, because demands are always difficult. And as we know, if you have a formal position with a huge impact, you're maybe not willing to challenge yourself.
And it was very obvious: And of course, I think that's what we all should do for the moment to… But I also do it and maybe, I mean, I don't know where I got this passion for this subject, but I think I have experienced something by going into this field that also gives a connection with being a human. And also having a position. Very often what we see, the conflict, you know, you can have one value system at home that is values that may be closer to you and your heart and what's important to you. And then you go to a working place where there are values thrown at you that you might not agree on, but to keep that position or to do a good job, you do things that you in a way, doesn't like, and I think… don't like.
And it was very obvious: And I think that is what we all need to challenge for the moment to look deeper into what kind of human we want to be. And see if we can bring these values to a working place. And become part of that change and dare to talk about it, because I think it's very much the culture in our landscape is ‘don't bite the hand that feeds you’.
And it was very obvious: Which I think sometimes, yeah. But you know, we are depending and it's a very, it’s a lack of resources as we see it. I think we should decide that there are a lot of resources out there, but sometimes we are afraid to speak up even if we see things that we find dysfunctional or not fair.
And it was very obvious: I think it's also what I encourage people to do. And I also have in my WIFT engagement, as you say, to find safe spaces where we can express the change we are dreaming of all the problems we see. Because I think sustainability will be built by us together because it's not, I can't say to you, hey, you can trust me, I can take the leadership that's not sustainable.
And it was very obvious: Sustainable is going from me perspectives to we perspectives. It is really we need each other for this.
And it was very obvious: This is not something where someone can lead us into, we need to go together and create because sustainability does not yet exist. But that's the cool thing with our part of the society that we are so trained as storytellers to create things that yet not exist. Could we use part of our energy for that. And part of… we are like legal soldiers that could go out and tell the world what you have not experienced is possible.
And it was very obvious: It's possible to create things we have never experienced because we do it every day. But just not for a bigger purpose. So I think this bigger purpose is really what I want to encourage us. Our industry
And it was very obvious: (I used the word industry, even if I prefer landscape) I believe it's the most impactful industry in the world, we not only influence ourselves, we also influence all those who watch what we are creating, and that's a huge impact.
And it was very obvious: NADIA: That's massive. I mean, I cannot agree with you more in terms of points about the impact that we do make is an industry. And the fact that with every, you know, big screen offering, we offer audiences the opportunity to create a new world, to be in a new world to move through that new world. So why not be able to change that within our own industry?
And it was very obvious: We've spoken, you know, a lot about this concept of leadership and the gatekeepers and leaders in general. What about the small actions that individuals can make in their individual film careers?
And it was very obvious: How can they be the agents of change? Because there's probably people who are listening to this thinking, okay, well these are lofty ideals and it, you know, we can direct them at those other people who are further up the chain.
And it was very obvious: But what about how we think about sustainable leadership, as you know, the average person on the street working in the industry.
And it was very obvious: HELENE: Yeah, if we talk about our landscape, I think… but this is of course now you're asking me because of course I could give you a lot of technical advices, but I think most people know that there are small actions you can do in your daily life that are less bad than others.
And it was very obvious: But I think and you ask me so I can give the answer. I think what we really need is new narratives to believe in, because the collective narratives will not help us. So we need new narratives. So what I would like to encourage each and everyone, that are engaged in storytelling, is to follow me and believe that stories are the most important tool we can bring to the society and for our common good.
And it was very obvious: And I think of course if you still not have reached a level where you feel that you have a career, you might feel that no one cares about me, and no one… I'm not important, and I think… but I think that is the big problem. And I also think it's a problem, even if you have a position. To make an inner decision that I want to be part of the change, I can see that we needs.
Because very interesting: and this was a colleague or an old friend and former colleague of mine who is now running one of IKEA’s company.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: “so can you give me some ideas how you work with sustainable leadership?” And then she said: “but we don't call it sustainable leadership anymore. That was yesterday. Now we talk about leadership for sustainability.” And you can hear the difference that sustainably, of course we want sustainable leadership, but that's not enough. Today, it's more. And the good thing with leadership for sustainability, you don't need to be a person of formal power to make the decision, to take on that leadership or to be an agent for change because I think the range of possibilities if you want to be an agent of change is to identify yourself as an agent for change.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: But I also think to find the courage to do that, I think it's really beneficial to see yourself more of a we than me. I think the me perspectives is really what can make it difficult for us to find.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: You know, I have been engaged in the WIFT, so communities for 10 years of my life now, and it has really brought this feeling of being part of a global we in our ecosystem in a way that… I will die a little happier I think with that experience in my body. And I think that is something when it comes to those things, we don't know, but we know that something is needed, what we don't know what it is.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: I think that we feeling is very important as it is when you create something together with other people.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: Because everyone who have been in a good artistic process with other people always want to return back to that place. I'm sure. I think that's why we can handle so harsh circumstances as we do in this landscape because it's unsafe economy. You never know if it's gonna success or not. There's so many… and it's gig economy. So it's so many challenging things. And I think what keeps us here is the passion both for stories, but also for this common creative process.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: And yeah, and I think this common creative process is what the world needs for the moment.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: So it was a very long answer. But did I even answer your question here, Nadia?
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: NADIA: You absolutely did. And the we feels like such a beautiful note to round up this conversation, but before we do on a sort of philosophical note, it feels as if in terms of the reflections in the theories we've come full circle with ideologies that many first nations had. So this idea of being connected with nature being connected as a humanity. I can't help be struck by the fact that the ideas are also coming back full circle.
And I asked her how they are working on sustainability. And I asked her: HELENE: Definitely, definitely though I came home from Iceland last week and I hang around with some Greenlanders and they said: “but don't expect all Greenlanders to still have these ideas of course.” But the ideology is definitely, but I think it is the circular thinking that it's really part of indigenous. And I think I heard a wonderful conversation. And it was… I was in New Zealand and it was a conversation between some Maori people in Disney and they talked about the Moana process they had consulted and they were so happy.
So I sat in the audience and were a bit grumpy, and I raised my hand said: “but you must have had some problems.” And then the Maori guy told me and said: “Yes we had. But you know we Maoris we work with consensus. So when we had problems, we talked about them until we solved them.”
And then I said: “Okay. Shut up Helen, and listen.” And I think this believe in people that doesn't mean it will not be problematic or difficult but the trust for each other.
And then I said: And I've heard this about native leadership among Native Americans. The idea if you're sitting in a tipi and you're going to make a decision and if not everyone agree you won't leave the tipi.
And then I said: And it can take days, but I also love it because it's really challenged these ideas of time and money that are the common ideas. Everyone understands, we can't see it for days and wait for a decision, but it might be, that we would come out with a sustainable decision. So what if that is exactly what we need to do to really take some proper time before we go to the next step and find out is this really the best way to go?
And then I said: And of course that can be super frustrating for people to hear that because we are stuck in habits that if something should be good, they should be cheap and fast, but that's just norms. And maybe that's not the most sustainable norms. Maybe we need new norms.
And then I said: NADIA: It sounds like it. It sounds like we need to reimagine a new industry and prepare for a new age which you've so beautifully laid out.
And then I said: HELENE: No, I must say it's you know what I found out some years ago, I did a study ‘what is lacking in the common body if we want sustainability’ and I asked a lot of question to a lot of people, leaders: “Which part of the body are you relating to sustainability?”
And then I said: And then I had an artist to draw that figure and there was one thing lacking, you know what, that was?
And then I said: NADIA: The soul?
And then I said: HELENE: No, ears. Everyone saw themselves, being with you Nadia asking your intelligent questions but also to feel the very active listening you do has been such a pleasure.
And then I said: So you are really, you are really a good listener, thank you very much.
And then I said: NADIA: This brings us to the end of our podcast on Sustainable Leadership. From this conversation, we were introduced to new ways of thinking about the film story universe, considerations to normalize behaviours connected to sustainability and reflections on the role of leaders in this brave new world of possibility.
And then I said: All of which are topics that are to be further explored at the Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event this week and the upcoming 2023 edition of the European Film Market at the Berlinale.
And then I said: I am pleased to announce that a coalition of the Baltic States of Estonia Latvia and Lithuania will be featured as the European Film Markets 2023 Countries in Focus.
And then I said: This season of Industry Insights has been produced in cooperation with the Goethe Institut and co-funded by Creative Europe MEDIA.
And then I said: This episode has been developed in partnership with the Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event.
Please do tune in to future episodes of Industry Insights. Find us wherever you get your podcasts and on the website of the European Film Market: www.efm-berlinale.de.
Please do tune in to future episodes of Industry Insights. Find us wherever you get your podcasts and on the website of the European Film Market: Thanks for tuning in. Goodbye.