Seminar 5, Scandiwood

The current Scandinavian trend in Hollywood has created an attractive opportunity for Scandinavian entertainment companies and talent seeking to establish connections in Los Angeles.  In this day and age, cultural differences are however still a factor, which can be challenging when doing transcontinental business. In the fifth part of our business seminar series, Making it in America, we identified the key factors between Scandinavia and Hollywood when it comes to business, production and marketing/PR strategies in the entertainment industry. With successful productions such as the TV series “The Killing,” and the films “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Troll Hunter” and “Let the Right One In,” we invited both Scandinavian and International entertainment professionals to share their expertise in the field with the audience. The panel for Scandiwood included these prominent industry power players :

  • Sigurjón Sighvatsson, Co-Founder of Propaganda Films, Chairman of Scanbox  Entertainment, Honorary Icelandic Consul General in Los Angeles and Principal of Palomar Pictures
  • Roy Ashton, Partner and Head of the Television Literary Department at The Gersh Agency
  • Katrina Wood, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MediaXchange Ltd.
  • Lawrence Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer at DDA
  • Christelle Dupont, Account Director, International Publicity at DDA
  • Kim Magnusson, CEO of Dansk Film Kompagni
  • Gudrun Giddings, Producer and President of SACC-LA will be the moderator

  • The Entertainment Business in Scandinavia and Hollywood.
  • Producing in Scandinavia vs. Hollywood.
  • Marketing/PR strategies in the Entertainment Industry, the American Way.
  • Is the Hot Scandinavian Film and TV trend here to stay?


Scandiwood was a great success.  The room was filled with enthusiastic people, eager to learn more about the entertainment business.  The panelist shared their thoughts on how the entertainment industry works today and gave the audience useful advice based on personal experience from his or her own career.  After the seminar it seemed like no one wanted to leave because the panel and the guests had so much fun mingling.  We want to thank the panelist and everyone who joined us at  Scandiwood!


Our fantastic panel from the left:  Kim Magnusson (CEO of Dansk Film Kompagni), Katrina Wood (Founder and CEO of MediaXchange Ltd.), Sigurjón Sighvatsson (Co-Founder of Propaganda Films, Chairman of Scanbox  Entertainment, Honorary Icelandic Consul General in Los Angeles and Principal of Palomar Pictures), Lawrence Atkinson (CEO at DDA), Roy Ashton (Partner and Head of the Television Literary Department at The Gersh Agency), Christelle Dupont (Account Director, International Publicity at DDA) and our moderator Gudrun Giddings (Producer and President of SACC-LA).


The audience listens carefully to what the panelists had to say about the entertainment industry.  The audience included producers, financiers, actors, writers, talent managers and students among others.
Our guest certainly enjoyed each other’s company.  We offered our guests a buffet and beverages.
Photos courtesy of Richard Laurits (

 Making it in America is sponsored by:
The Panelists:
SIGHVATSSON, Co-Founder of Propaganda Films, Chairman of Scanbox  Entertainment, Honorary Icelandic Consul General in Los Angeles and Principal of Palomar Pictures
Sigurjón Sighvatsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, started off as a musician in the 70’s and immigrated to the United States in 1978.  He graduated with a BA in English and literature from the University of Iceland and an MFA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
He began his professional film career as a co-founder of Propaganda Films, which revolutionized the commercial and music video industries before moving into feature film production.  While at Propaganda, he worked with future directing stars such as David Fincher, Michael Bay and Spike Jonze and produced such films as WILD AT HEART, MADONNA:  TRUTH OR DARE, KALIFORNIA, BASQUIAT, CANDYMAN, RED ROCK WEST and A THOUSAND ACRES.  Additionally, he produced the modern television classic David Lynch’s TWIN PEAKS and was one of the original producers on the original BEVERLY HILLS 90210 series.  He then served as the first president of Lakeshore Entertainment, where he oversaw and/or executive produced such films as ARLINGTON ROAD, RUNAWAY BRIDE, THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, 200 CIGARETTES, HOMEGROWN and POLISH WEDDING.
He is the principal of Palomar Pictures, an independent film production company in Los Angeles.  His latest project KILLER ELITE was released September 23rd, 2011.  Additionally, he serves as chairman of Scanbox Entertainment, a major Scandinavian film distribution and production company through which he executive produced VALHALLA RISING and ONLY GOD FORGIVES.  He will produce the Julie Kagawa Young-adult fiction novel Blood of Eden.
Sighvatsson is the Icelandic Consul General in Los Angeles (honorary).  He owns clothing manufacturer 66°North.
ROY ASHTON, Partner and Head of the Television Literary Department at The Gersh Agency

Roy Ashton is the Head of the TV Literary & Packaging Dept. at The Gersh Agency, with offices in Los Angeles and New York.    Prior to joining Gersh as Partner in November, 2011, Ashton spent 14 years at CAA.    Starting in the mailroom, Ashton now functions in all areas of Television, helping clients sell shows and package projects at the major networks, major cable and premium cable outlets.   He taught at USC’s Film School in Spring, 2011, and is a founding member of the Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society.   He attended Columbia University.   He is married and lives in West Los Angeles with his wife and their three children.
KATRINA WOOD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MediaXchange Ltd.

Katrina Wood is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of MediaXchange Ltd., an international media consultancy with offices in London and Los Angeles.  Facilitating worldwide media relationships, MediaXchange has a 20 year history in providing their TV channel and Production company clients with a versatile and unique resource enabling them to develop and expand their corporate and project interests in the global market place.
Amongst others, her clients have included: Fox Broadcasting Company, CBS Paramount, Sony Pictures Television International, ScottFree Productions (USA);  BBC, Granada International, Fremantle Entertainment, Kudos Film & Television (UK);  Metronome Film & Television, SVT, The company P, TV4, Anagram Produktion, Endemol Nederland, TV2 Denmark, Nordisk Film TV, Monster Entertainment, NRK, TV2 Norway (Scandinavia);  RTL Television, ProSieben Sat.1, Endemol Deutschland, TF1, Lagadere Media, Canal + Television, GloboMedia, Telemadrid, Mediaset, ORF, Eyeworks Belgium, and MMG (Europe)
Born in Kenya, and with a history in the worlds of fashion and music (including her first job working for the rock band The Who), Wood is also an active board member.  She is a trustee of the Kenyan Branch of Youth Business International, an extension of the The Prince’s Youth Business Trust (supporting new enterprises started by disadvantaged youth), serves as a trustee of the UK-based Media Trust, promoting media as an educational tool for development within the African continent, and a voting member of the international Emmy Web Awards.  Additionally, Wood was a co-founder of Women in Film and Television (UK), and former Board Member of the European Film College in Denmark.
 Chief Executive Officer at DDA
Lawrence Atkinson is Chief Executive Officer, DDA Public Relations.  During his tenure has worked on titles as varied and diverse as the King’s Speech, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Dark KnightValkyrieThe Hunger Games, Casino RoyaleQuantum of SolaceLions for LambsNine and Gone Baby Gone.  His current projects include Ron Howard’s Rush, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Diana and Cloud Atlas from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer.  Prior to DDA, Atkinson was Director of Film (UK) for UK Entertainment PR Agency Premier Public Relations.  At Premier, Atkinson developed and oversaw media management for major UK film premieres, including Kill BillThe Matrix Reloaded and the world première of James Bond:  Die Another Day.  Atkinson developed a series of new business opportunities for the company and lead UK publicity campaigns for a range of A-list, award-winning films including Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks and Jude Law, Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, Stephen Frears’ acclaimed Dirty Pretty Things, DreamWorks’ Shrek 2 & SharkTale and Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal.  Prior to Premier PR, Atkinson served as Publicity Manager of the UK Publicity Division of leading international film distributor Buena Vista International (UK) Ltd, operating in both London and at the Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles.  During his six years at Disney, Atkinson was responsible for UK distribution campaigns across a variety of titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Miramax, Touchstone Pictures and local acquisitions.  Atkinson started his career in film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 1995.
CHRISTELLE DUPONT, Account Director, International Publicity at DDA
Christelle Dupont joined DDA in 2006 and has since worked on numerous international film campaigns including, most recently Terrence Malick’s TO THE WONDER and TREE OF LIFE, Lee Daniel’s THE PAPER BOY, David Frankel’s HOPE SPRINGS, Gary Ross’ THE HUNGER GAMES, Steven Soderbergh’s HAYWIRE, Angelina Jolie’s IN THE LAND OF BLOOD & HONEY, Neil Burger’s LIMITLESS and J.C. Chandor’s MARGIN CALL.
Dupont has vast experience with both independent films and studio projects at major film festivals and markets around the world including Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, and Venice.  Based in the Los Angeles office of DDA, she has overseen international publicity campaigns and strategies for theatrical films from the pre-production stage through the international roll-out of the release with set visits, press junkets, premieres and international talent tours.
Dupont is currently working on Gabriele Muccino’s PLAYING FOR KEEPS for NuImage/Millennium Films, Dean Parisot’s RED 2 for Lionsgate and two new films from Good Universe, OLD BOY and LAST VEGAS.  Other key clients include Relativity Media, QED International, Studio Canal, GK Films, Davis Films and River Road, among others.
Dupont received a Master’s Degree in Music Business & Entertainment Industries from the University of Miami.  In 2005 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, as a personal publicist working with both TV and film talent before joining DDA.
KIM MAGNUSSON, CEO of Dansk Film Kompagni

In 1995 I founded M&M Productions with Tivi Magnusson, and later was headhunted to run Nordisk Film’s Film Division as CEO from 2003 – 2009.
In the years 1995-2012 I have produced or EP’ed more than 100 films such as:  OPERATION COBRA, ALBERT, FLICKERING LIGHTS, THE GREEN BUTCHERS, ADAM’S APPLES, HEADHUNTER, TERKEL IN TROUBLE, WORLDS APART, FLIES ON THE WALL, AFTERMATH, and ACCUSED which was in Competition in Berlin and AT WORLD’S END.  I have been Oscar® nominated in the category “Live Action Short Film” four times, and won the coveted award in 1999 for ELECTION NIGHT.  As well as M&M Productions film has been nominated another three times and won the Oscar® two times – so all in all – 10 short lists, 7 nominations and 3 wins.  M&M Productions as well myself personally received an EMMY for the international co-production – and ISLAND ON BIRD STREET – the film won for best children’s movie, best director as well as best upcoming talent, as well as the same film Won two Silver Bears at the Berlin Filmfestival.
I’m chairman of the Danish Film Academy – a position I have held since 1999, and also I was the chairman of the Danish Producers Association for 9 years (most ever), as well as one of the selected Producers at the Media supported “Script & Pitch” meeting in Lyon 2005, as well as attended both the Marketing program in Luxembourg as well as a Exec.  Management program in the UK arranged by Olswang / Skillset – also selescted for The FAST TRACK program in 1997 and Workshop at Media Business School in Rhonda. Kim is a voting member of AMPAS® and The European Film Academy.
Producer and President of SACC-LA
Gudrun Giddings works as a producer and is one of the co-founders of Entertainment Capital Network, she also produces under her own company, G4C Innovation. Gudrun is the Swedish Film Commission’s representative in North America, including Scandinavian Locations in Los Angeles.
Most recently Gudrun executive produced the Norwegian fantasy thriller THALE that premiered this year at SXSW and is having its Canadian premiere at TIFF, under the acclaimed Vanguard section.  She is currently in development on the U.S. remake of THALE.  Gudrun is also producing, in collaboration with Stan Lee’s company POW! Entertainment and Michael Eisner’s Vuguru a series hosted by Mark Hamill (STAR WARS)  She is executive producing, KNOCKOUT, starring Noomi Rapace (SHERLOCK HOLMES, PROMETHEUS) shooting 2012.  Gudrun executive produced FLYPAPER, released 2011, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (THE HANGOVER) directed by Rob Minkoff (THE LION KING) starring Patrick Dempsey (GREY’S ANATOMY, ENCHANTED)
Gudrun served as a producer and the VP of business development at Paradox Entertainment, where she worked on the Marcus Nispel directed CONAN THE BARBARIAN, including produced the pilot AGE OF CONAN: Hyboria!, directed by Dan Milano (ROBOT CHICKEN, GREG THE BUNNY)  Before joining Paradox, Gudrun was the director of production for Davis Films, Samuel and Victor Hadida’s production arm under their distribution company Metropolitan Filmexport.  While at Davis Films, Gudrun worked on films such as, Tony Scott’s DOMINO, Christopher Gans’ SILENT HILL, SOLOMON KANE, George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and Terry Gilliam directed, THE IMAGINERIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS.  In 2008 she produced some of the first original content pilots for Xbox Live 360, MIRACLE OF PHIL directed by Andrew Douglas (AMITIVILLE HORROR) and POST APOLYPTIC PIZZA directed by Peter Cornwell (HAUNTING IN CONNETICUT)