The powerhouse behind Panorama: Lene Seested is educating and championing Denmark’s aspiring actors and filmmakers

Lene Seested has been working in the TV and film industry for more than 25 years, starting with founding Panorama Agency talent management in Copenhagen. The Panorama brand now encompasses a production house – Panorama Productions – and Panorama Academy, creating opportunities and education for aspiring actors and filmmakers.

Each year the students of Panorama Academy, together with Panorama Productions, produce short films as part of their education. This past year – with the challenges of Covid to contend with, but also the opportunities it brought about for content and inspiration – Panorama has been busy producing 59 short films (37 in 2020 and 22 in 2021), which are now being showcased as an online festival and judged by some big names!

In this interview, Lene tells us about how the last year has been for Panorama and the industry, the themes behind this year’s short films, the highly respected judges involved – and her top tips for aspiring actors and filmmakers.

Meet Lene Seestead – Founder and CEO of Panorama House; Panorama Agency, Panorama Academy, Panorama Production and SpotOn Casting

Lene – you have been in the industry for more than 25 years. How has it changed and what opportunities and challenges have the pandemic provided?

As for the majority of people, we also found ourselves in a situation where our industry went into lockdown causing a pause in the film and tv shooting schedules, and this affected us, as well as our clients. We had several actors working abroad, and fought to get them back home before the borders closed. L.A. and UK were running about a 1 month behind us in the ‘wave’ of infected by covid19, and so they were not so focused on the lockdown and restrictions, as Denmark/Scandinavia were.

At our Academy, we right away stepped into online teaching, self-tape workshops, and we also began the production of our short films. We produced a total of 59 shorts during the 3 lockdowns!

It’s been a unique feeling to be hands-on working, creating together with our clients in Agency and students in Academy, and during lockdown our clients would still be visible through meaningful storytelling and great acting.

I had a dream, in January last year, just a couple of months before the first lockdown. I remember waking up and sharing with my husband how I saw our world would change in a significant way. A tornado would ravage the earth. All the materialism, spam, egos, and pollution would no longer exist.

Instead, people would start a ‘new’ life, valuing slow living, spending much more time with our loved ones, spend much more time in nature, prioritize organic living, moving to the countryside, and we would be living our dreams in an organic, balanced and healthier way.

Sometimes when you think it’s all falling apart, the truth is, it’s falling into place

From this dream, my great friend and I created the verse ‘Sometimes when you think it’s all falling apart, the truth is, it’s falling into place.’ Which became the theme for the 41 shorts we produced during the first lockdown.

In the next production of shorts, Kristofer Hivju gave the Academy students a kick-off session about scriptwriting and he gave them the theme ‘The last Day’. It was an American friend of mine who in a conversation referred to our shorts as ‘a festival’, because of the amount we managed to produce in a short time, and this is how we came about asking the lovely jury to be a part of our festival and arranging it all step by step.

It’s our first festival, and we draw inspiration from all the festivals I’ve attended during the last 27 years all around the world. We will be having a screening at the Grand Theater in Copenhagen for all the actors, crew, etc. to thank everyone for their help and to host the award show too.

From this dream, my great friend and I created the verse ‘Sometimes when you think it’s all falling apart, the truth is, its falling into place’. Which became the theme for the 41 shorts we produced during the first lockdown.

This phrase plays a big role, because most people can relate to the verse, because our lives changed with covid19, the situation was out of our hands and it felt for many like everything was falling apart.

What we hear now is that people are on the other side of things, and find the changes meaningful, and for the better.

Tell us about the fantastic jury who are judging the short films for the event

The jury are leaders in the film and tv industry in their expertise and experience. Besides being a long time friend, Ivana Chubbuck is the guru of acting coaches and many of our clients and all students at Academy use her acting technique. She was asked because of her many years of coaching the stars and bringing them to winning Oscars, Tonys, Emmys awards.

Producer Kim Magnussen is a two-time Oscar winner, and five-time nominee, in the short film category. It’s an impressive and outstanding achievement. Besides this, he’s produced an impressive range of feature films and TV series. He’s a passionate producer for young and new talents. That’s why it’s wonderful to have him on board. He’s been supporting our short films from the beginning.

Ann Lind Andersen is probably the most respected reviewer on national broadcasting company Tv2, she is a powerhouse of knowledge, a true passion for film and TV, and she has her fingers on the pulse in regards to the industry.

Kristofer is an exceptional actor and scriptwriter whose breakthrough was in Game of Thrones. We took him on and already within a year he booked 3 international jobs including Game of Thrones. His career started internationally only to bring him home to do Scandinavian projects. He is a role model to many because he’s a type of actor we rarely see in Scandinavia and he’s combining roles internationally with roles in Scandinavia.

Kari Vidø is an award-winning and stand-out director and scriptwriter with an impressive CV. She’s a certified Chubbuck Teacher and she is a censor at The Danish National Film school. We have her on board as our teacher in scripts and directing and acting coach. She’s a powerhouse of expertise with her 38 years of experience.

One of many examples is Silence starring and created by Josefine Lindgaard & Anine Lindvig

Do you think you will continue to do this event digitally, or would you like to do in-person events?

Producing the short films is a regular event for the students, every 2nd semester at our Academy (each of the 2 years during) the education. This is our way to help our students create material for their showreel, and with this, they are able to influence which role they play and showcase themselves the best way.

…our Creator Program at the Academy [is] 1 year of acting, directing, and writing scripts, working in an interdisciplinary way, and again creating material for your showreel, and the festival too, builds your skills and talent.

Many of them also discovered they are great at writing after we pushed them to jump into it. You have more than one talent! And it’s become a big passion besides acting. Also directing. With that experience in mind, we started our Creator Program at the Academy. This is 1 year of acting, directing, and writing scripts, working in an interdisciplinary way, and again creating material for your showreel, and the festival too, builds your skills and talent.

It would be great fun to do in-person events besides the screening and award show, when possible, and lesser restrictions. We keep developing and we are also looking at having new creatives participating too in our festival. Maybe next year!

For those out there looking to make their big break in the film world, in whatever capacity, what pieces of advice can you offer?

Training, training, training and find education and workshops that are right for you. Don’t be afraid to dream big!

Create your A-team around you to support you in developing as an actor / artist, you can’t make it alone, keep working in big and small roles and projects, and network with colleagues, photographers and directors etc. who are also creating their way forward, raise above competition instead stand in your light and be helpful and creative.

When we see how the creative raise each other up with projects, they often keep working many years together, and this is a holistic, successful role model to take notice of.

Timing is everything – and a little luck too.

Slow down, and don’t worry there’s no reason to move fast, it takes more time than you think, and it’s all fine, it’s the road of experience and the network that’ll help you move forward and many times it’s your honest personality and passion that’ll pay off in a meaningful way that you could not predict.

So keep believing, be loyal to the people you meet and work with, know your business so you step forward in a smart and professional manner. Timing is everything – and a little luck too.

Where can we watch the short films that are in the festival?

It’s on our SoMe and our website www.panoramaproduction.com.

Panorama Production creates in-house film and TV projects. It also pursues to work with creatives minds within the film and TV industry.

Ann Lind will host the award show at Grand Theater on 2nd September. We have a screening of 30 selected short films that day too, invites for everyone involved, in front and behind the camera.

There has been some really exciting and positive focus on the Denmark film industry recently – how is the future looking for Panorama?

I see a bright future for my companies under Panorama House, and for the Scandinavian industry in general for sure. We are in our Agency with passion continuing to build both new talents, help break through, and we manage the stars careers. We are developing projects at Panorama Production to produce too, a couple of TV series and feature films, which I am super excited about. It’s been a dream for many years and the timing is right now.

At our Academy the 1st students received their diplomas last week after finishing their 2-year education with success, and we open the doors for the our new students / classes in August. Scandinavia has become a solid part of the international film and tv industry for years now, and we are fortunate to be go-to companies.

The TV and film industry is growing more than ever, and the world is our neighbour with the digital development, and so we’ve for years experienced a big growth in job opportunities for actors both in Scandinavia and internationally.

When I started out as a casting director in Denmark, the industry produced from 2-6 feature films yearly, and the focus was not on TV series yet. To work internationally was not an option, and it’s been a great journey for me to be a pioneer in creating a way for Scandinavian actors.

Each trip was a step closer to a role, networking on a new level, and today we handle a mix of Scandinavian local projects, equally to European and American too. Back in the late 90’s it was a big event when I received a fax from Paramount Pictures or casting directors, and the actors thought it was a candid camera when I called them to do a self-tape or casting.

The TV and film industry is growing more than ever, and the world is our neighbour with the digital development, and so we’ve for years experienced a big growth in job opportunities for actors both in Scandinavia and internationally.

Today it’s still exciting, it’s our everyday communication. It’s been an honor and a great achievement to be a part of introducing our countries creativity to a new market and extraordinary growth, because of the artists and film workers’ talent, experiences, and significant storytelling.

Scandinavia has become a high-end brand over the years, and we manage to stay at the top. Abroad they see our 3 countries as one, and this is great and keeps all of us in the spotlight because when Denmark and Vinterberg is a success, it shines on the rest of Scandinavia, and vice versa, both in regards to directors, actors, producers, photographers.

Go to https://panoramaproduction.com/falling-apart/ to watch all of last year’s short film. This year’s short film will be updated to the website when we are finished premiering them all. Although the festival has been held online, there will be an in-person event at Grand Teater in Copenhagen on the 2nd September, where many of the short films will be screened and there will be an awards ceremony.

Follow Panorama Production Instagram to catch up on posts sharing their short films @_panoramaproduction

Feature and Interview by Alex & Claire Minnis

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