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Interview – Eva Beling

Interview – Eva Beling

Eva Beling - Bio

Eva Beling is an Emmy Award winning Producer, Writer and Director with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts from San Francisco State University. She has lived in Miami, Los Angeles and New York where she has worked for various independent production companies. She was also part of a selective team at NATPE, the most important international Market and Conference held in the U.S.
She started her career as a Television Producer at Swedish Kanal 5 (Channel 5) launching new strategies that established the TV-station as a popular entertainment channel. She supervised Producers on many different entertainment shows and produced a weekly film magazine.
She has continued to produce and has directed numerous TV-programs, TV-drama series and documentaries. On all of her documentaries she has conducted extensive research at the National Library of Sweden (KB) and at the archives of Swedish Public Television (SVT), as well as writing, directing and producing. In 2011 her two-part TV-series, ”A Life With Cinema”, about Sweden’s most legendary film critic, premiered on Swedish Public Television.
From 2005-2008 Eva was Head of Productions and Producer at The Stockholm International Film Festival, where she covered all aspects of production at the festival. She also produced two programs about the late Ingmar Bergman, ”The Women and Bergman” and ”The Men and Bergman”. The two programs have been broadcast both in Sweden and abroad, and premiered at film festivals across the globe.
For the past two years Eva has been President of WIFT, Women in Film and Television Sweden. During this time WIFT Sweden took the initiative to launch the A-rating system, started by four Swedish independent cinemas in 2013. In addition, she also founded the WIFT Nordic Chapter.
Beling Films AB is Eva Beling’s production company in Stockholm which produces television, films and commercials. She currently works on her first feature documentary, ”Cold Storage”, commissioned by Swedish Public Television. Eva is also co-writing an international fiction screenplay. Eva Beling is a member of the Swedish Film & TV Producers Association.
You can contact Eva on evabeling@gmail.com

Interview with Eva Beling

Name
Eva Beling

Title
Producer, Writer and Director

How many years in the film business?
15 years

What is your current location?
Downtown Stockholm where I have my office.

Latest production?
I am currently working on my first feature documentary ”Cold Storage” or in Swedish ”Den svenska filmgarderoben”.

Best film production related memory?
When I received The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy Awards’ Production Scholarship. The actress Shirley Temple presented me the award.

Worst film production related memory?
Recently, two of my hard drives were stolen containing interviews. It turned out that the material was stored on my computer but loosing recorded material is a horrible experience.

What do you miss from the past?
The habit of going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night was a regular activity in the old days.

What do you whish for the future?
Movies are consumed more than ever and it should mean more opportunities than ever for both men and women to shape the experience and reach potential audience. We need to find these opportunities to promote equality and diversity.

The item you never leave at home when you go to work?
My iphone is a vital tool because I have my calendar, contacts and a video camera. I always carry my camera with me because you never know when something unexpected is going to happen.

If you must choose, name the one most important thing for a good day on a set?
I would say it is a good 8 hour beauty sleep the night before. Preparation is good and a good photographer who you can trust. However, reality will inevitably oblige you to improvise most of your decisions on the set. The human factor is obviously one of the most unpredictable elements, the one that most frequently obliges you to questions things. Sometimes a very minor detail can influence the whole film.

What is your favorite format to work on?
Camera quality means everything to me as well as a great photographer. We are filming “Cold Storage” with a Sony F5 from Dagsljus. It looks great.

Does anything scare you with your job? If so what?
No, personally, this is why I have chosen this profession. I like challenges and creating things. I like to use my imagination and creativity and learn new things all the time. Also, I have learned from mistakes and not to repeat them.

Describe what you think is the difference between the film industry in Sweden compared to other countries.
There is a difference between the Swedish and the American work culture. There is a hierarchical work culture in the United States. You will not get close to big stars in the same way. Generally, it’s a better working climate in Sweden. It has probably to do with that we are a small country. It is much easier to get to know managers, senior executives and get near big stars.

Your view on analog vs digital.
When I researched at the SVT archive it was striking how the quality has deteriorated with digital technology. For example 16 mm film looked much better than digital format in the eighties. I’m probably a bit old fashioned and like analog film. I guess it has to do with my film historical interest. It is quite magical to hold a filmstrip from 1916.
In Cold Storage, my latest production, we take you on a rollercoaster ride through Swedish film history. We open old cardboard boxes and pull out film reels that no one has watched since they first came out. It’s a magical feeling to see these films from 1916. We load them into projectors and discover things that (maybe) no one has ever seen before.

Can you tell us if you have found any gems, if so what?
Cold Storage is a feature documentary to shed light on LGBT cinema in Sweden, a side of Swedish cinematic life that has been unknown, ignored and forgotten. The documentary are going back to the beginning of the 20th century in Sweden when there was an interest in LBGT characters. As an example the film “Vingarne” , a real gem, from 1916, which is perhaps the world’s first gay film by Mauritz Stiller.

From your perspective, why is the film industry so unequal and dominated by men?
The movie industry is not gender neutral just as society in general. The women are in a male dominated work environment. There are mostly men, the men have created the structures and it is the men who have prevailed. The visibles are women’s low representation.
It has also to do with the movie productions character. When a team gathers together in a short amount of time, collaboration has to be built up quickly and then it is easy to seek safe working environment and you fall into the old abandoned patterns. The myth that it must be a male director who leads a large team is still alive.

What to do?
In 2013 four independent cinemas/movie theatres in Sweden started to A-rate the films that they were showing. During this time I was President of WIFT Sweden and we took the initiative to launch the A-rating system. The news of this spread quickly through out the media all over the world and lead to many different discussions of the representation of women in film today.

What do you hope to achieve with this way of certifying films?
Well, it is theory turned into practice. And it is a humorous way to build awareness. We hope that the A-stamp will encourage to increase women representation in films.
The reason the Bechdel test exists is that so many films do not manage to live up to it. Hopefully the A-stamp will encourage new ways of thinking for both audiences and creators of film.

Has there been any change in this in recent years?
Yes, Swedish cinema has begun to bring order to equality. For the first time, Swedish Film Institute achieves 50-50 Funding Distribution for Male and Female Directors.

What is WIFT and how do you work?
Wift Sweden, Women in Film and Television was founded in 2003 by a handful of women who felt Sweden needed a networking and education forum for women in the entertainment industry. I was involved and active in starting WIFT Sweden.
Furthermore, Wift’s report series is meant to add depth to the conversation; to raise the level of the public debate; and to deflate routine, unconsidered preconceptions with research and facts. The stories that are shown in motion pictures shape us, and shape the way we think about the world we live in. It is important for us to think critically about who creates pictures of our society, and for whom.
WIFT Sweden is part of a network of 40 women in film chapters worldwide, representing more than 10,000 members. We are a Small non-profit organisation. However we have managed to start a couple of new chapters in Sweden. There are a total of six active chapters today. Also, we managed to have films in Cannes A-rated for the first time. WIFT Sweden has together with A-rating, French Tess Magazine and Le Duexième Régard, involved the French news newspaper Libération to take note of female representation in films and publish the test results ongoing at the Cannes Film Festival.

What is A-rate?
The A stands for approved and also Allison as in Allison Bechdel whose comic strip from 1985 first lead to the test. The so-called Bechdel-test contains three simple questions.
1. Are there two or more women in the film and do they have names?
2. Do they talk to each other during the film?
3. Do they talk to each other about something besides a man?

It’s easy to tell with these three questions if a movie passes the test or not. These are the only things that the test measures. The A-rating system has nothing to do with the quality of the film. The test doesn’t say if a movie is good or bad. It just informs the audience that there are in fact two female characters in the film that have names and they talk to one another about something other than a man. When A-rating a movie it doesn’t show how gender bias the film is, but it does highlight how women are represented.
It’s a way of raising awareness about who gets to talk in films and whose stories and being told and how. It should be seen as a steppingstone to further the discussion about how different groups in society are being depicted in film today. And how this influences us as viewers.

Why does it Matter if women, WHO have names in the film (sometimes the women don’t even have names in films) talk about other things than about men?
Looking at it from a democratic perspective it matters because as it is today there is an enormous imbalance in whose story and perspective we receive, as on the cinema screen. It is my firm conviction that more women working in the film and television industries will expand the range of Swedish film production and deepen our understanding of the human condition.

Have you had any bad experience based on gender during a film production?
I remember one time I called a former colleague at a production company a number of years ago and applied for a job, but it was in another location. I was a good fit for the job, but she said you’ve got young children, Eva, and how will you solve it? I tried to explain that they are being cared for, but she would not listen and I was not hired.
That time I felt discriminated.

What is your remedy to change this male dominance within the business?
Give women the necessary tools they need to get their first film done. I think it is important to give women concrete advice as how to negotiate rights and contracting so you don’t get scammed. Everyone can participate and influence gender equality in the workplace. Take advantage of the opportunity. The more people who are interested in the issue and willing to commit to improving gender equality, the greater pressure on employers to work with the issue.

Your advice to young aspiring women for career within any department in the film industry?
Do what you want even if it feels impossible.

LS_Haevnen

Nils Petter Sundgren and Eva Beling in Denmark visiting the shoot of Susanne Biers film Hämnden

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From this years Kristallen Seminar. Actor Lisa Werlinder, producer Eva Beling and manager at Bio Rio Ellen Telje

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On the set of Cold Storage in Stockholm

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Kalle Boman, Jan Göransson, Eva Beling and Roy Andersson at his studio, Studio 24.

Liv-Ullmann

Liv Ullmann recieves Wift's honorary prize during Göteborgs filmfestival. Foto: Knut Koivisto

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Eva Beling and Kjell Bergqvist during this years Pride parade in Stockholm.

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Kjell Bergqvist kissing a transsexual during the parade.

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Eva Beling and Michael Moore at First Time Film Festival in New York.

Ellen-Tejle-och-Eva-Beling

At this years Kristallen seminar Ellen Tejle manager at Bio Rio and producer Eva Beling

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On the set of the series finale of Gossip Girl at Silvercup Studios in New York with actor and friend Matthew Settle.

1

Actor Lisa Werlinder and manager for Bio Rio Ellen Tejle at this years Kristallen seminar

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