Film Production International Networking (and more…)

Aliss Valerie Terrell
6 min readDec 15, 2022

If we’re connected on social media, you know I just spent 4 days in Copenhagen.

Why Copenhagen?

Several reasons:

Mr. Charlie’s Trees have occupied my thoughts since late 2019 when I decided to revisit my uncle’s story, digitizing video files, writing synopses, reaching out to producer contacts, South Georgia family and friends.Then COVID put a hold on everything. Then in July 2020, I learned of UGA’s plans to sell the bequest and the story became a full-time preoccupation. Ever since, my life has revolved around phone conversations and emails, first with the university, then with conservation groups, pro bono legal advisors, filmmakers, and travel companies, now my editor and assorted copyright-holding entities.

Even when I’m not in front of my computer or on the phone, Mr Charlie and his trees are still with me 24/7. I even dream about them, especially since I entered copyright purgatory for the trailer. (see “Hello from Documentary Production Copyright Purgatory”)

Many hours of detective work have revealed that some of the outfits I contacted for permission to use their content didn’t answer me because they don’t own the copyright for the visuals they shared. I’ve had to track down the real owners, drum up contact info and keep hammering out requests until I get an answer. It has paid off in offers of better, more original material for the trailer. (But also more work and longer delays to redesign certain sequences.)

The music publisher audio library took 2 weeks to take action even after they granted me the music license and I sent back the paperwork. They said they didn’t receive that email or the follow ups. Now to pay and get the green light to download the track I want to sync.

Really identifying with those noir film private eyes who’d rather sit in a car on a stake out than stare at their venetian blind-shadowed desks and not-ringing phones.

Ergo when my S.O. decided to fly to Copenhagen for the premiere of the Franco-Danish animated series he’s been producing the sound track for (day and night), I jumped on board with our son in tow. No ulterior motives, just craving a change of scenery and some family time, a fallow moment to recharge…

Couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The “Team Nuggets” screening was worth the trip, unique, funny, heart-warming, well-produced, about inclusivity, family, friendship, school, and growing up weird in a weird world.

It will be replacing the sacrosanct Disney franchise that’s occupied the Friday evening primetime kid programming slot in Denmark for decades (no-pressure!), then air on Canal+ Kids here in France in March. Later in the US.

Extra added bonus: seeing how seamlessly the French and Danish production teams work together and their mutual admiration, expressed in 3 languages: Danish, French and English.

At the after party, I celebrated with the blended teams, among them the French producer, a female dynamo striking out on her own after a career in a corporate media production.

Watching her glow with relief and satisfaction after 2 years of hard work was another inspiration. She answered my congratulations with a detailed genesis story about the project, connections that led to creating synergy, navigating funding labyrinths, endless grant application upgrades, outsmarting multi-lingual contract challenges, having to prove herself in a mostly macho broadcasting world, and all the doors that are now swinging open for her next projects…

She asked what I was working on and I filled her in. She provided some admin advice that will be useful down the line and volunteered to help me with contacts and funding gauntlets. Sweet!

Before we said goodbye, she introduced me to the Danish producer, another female powerhouse with numerous prestigious international credits to her name…

The rest of the time my body and soul got refreshed by bracing outdoor temperatures and ubiquitous Danish graciousness. In this nation of barely 6 million, ancestral culture is flourishing despite ever-present foreign influences. Almost everyone I met was so fluent in English that you would take them for native speakers and yet their language and values thrive in parallel, no apparent conflict. I admire them for morphing from their warrior past to more peaceful pursuits. Copenhagen is a business hub and the #1 green city in Europe. I’ve never seen so many cyclists even in freezing weather. (More about “green” energy, a subject of my film, in a future post.)

The holiday season is a perfect time to discover Denmark. It gets dark very early but Yule lights and decorations are everywhere, most often in the form of red and white hearts. Hand-braiding paper versions are a family tradition, so much so that you can’t buy them anywhere, you have to make them yourself.

We were fortunate to reunite with a dear French musician/animator friend and meet his Danish wife and little girls, who gave us an inside glimpse into local life. For example, elves are real in Denmark. They live among standing stones in the woods and also in people’s homes and cellars where they’re lovingly supplied with diminutive daily treats, and clean laundry. Red elf hats are everywhere and apparently, some adult Danes wear them at corporate Christmas parties as a pretext to misbehave.

We heard about the gourmet Danish specialty smørrebrød sandwiches but were too busy seeing the sights and buying stocking presents for the folks back home to locate them.

Instead we had great French cuisine near our Airbnb, followed by Akvavit (Viking water)

Unexpected pleasure: fabulous Mads Sondergaard trio at La Fontaine, Copenhagen’s oldest jazz club, made famous by its nightly jam sessions that attract big names, such as Lady Gaga.

All this only 90 minutes from Paris by plane, via Copenhagen’s hospitable and well-choreographed airport.

We’ll be back.

And…thank you to our two new GFM donors, Margaret and Tina, whose generous contributions I received while in Copenhagen, such a cool surprise.

Joy to the world!



Aliss Valerie Terrell

I’ve had several lives since coming to France: grad student, singer songwriter, writer and filmmaker, marriage and mothering….