The Danish producer of the original cult Millennium film series, is associated to Yellow Bird’s latest psychological drama within the crime subgenre, co-written by Aron Levander and Hans Jörnlind from on an original idea by renowned author and criminologist Leif GW Persson.

The Truth Will Out (Det som göms I snö
) premiered on Tuesday on Kanal 5 Sweden at 21.00 and was the top-rated show in that slot, with 483,000 average viewers the first hour, with a peak of 531,000 and audience share of 18.5 per cent.

What was the genesis for the TV show and how did you manage to get renowned criminologist and crime author Leif GW Persson on board?
Søren Stærmose: Yellow Bird had a long-time relationship with Salomonsson Agency as they represent Jo Nesbø, author of Headhunters and creator of the original idea for the TV series Occupied that Yellow Bird had produced. They are literary agents as well for Leif GW Persson and the two upcoming screenwriters Aron Levander and Hans Jörnlind, and pitched the idea for The Truth Will Out to us.

What are the main themes of the TV show and what is the plot structure?
SS: The show is inspired by the true story of Thomas Quick, a Swedish convicted mass murderer who was eventually proved innocent. But the core of the story is memory - be it twisted memory, reduced memory, or reconstructed memory. It’s also about the cracks within the Swedish judicial system. In terms of plot, it’s a mix of closed and open ‘whodunnit’. The closed whodunnit during the first four episodes is when we look for the culprit; there are a lot of red herrings. Then once we know who the murderer is, we work with how to catch him/her.

In what way is The Truth Will Out different from the usual Nordic noirs?
There are different aspects that make it a unique crime series. First of all, it’s a psychological character-driven drama. Normally, crime provides a comfortable distance to the viewer, but here we move the boundaries on a personal level. Secondly, there is a strong sense of realism, and that was key for Leif GW Persson. We do not have pulling guns, no violence, and you hardly see a police uniform. Thirdly, the pace is intentionally quite slow, allowing space for actors to act, and re-act with longer takes, and for silence to counterbalance the dialogues.

Another innovative aspect is the format. The normal TV format is 16:9, but we used the 18:9 or 2:1 aspect ratio, invented by Vittorio Storaro who called it ‘univisium’, a compromise between HDTV aspect ratio 16:9 and the cinema format 2.39:1. This format is used in prestigious shows, such as Netflix’s House of Cards, The Crown, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I would recommend other Scandinavian producers to use it.

Was concept director Kjell-Åke Andersson very involved in the writing process?
The very talented scriptwriters Aron Levander and Hans Jörnlind had hardly done any TV drama, so I brought in director Kjell-Åke Andersson who is very strong with script consultancy. Kjell-Åke was involved in the writers’ room from the inception and he was crucial as script advisor, working in a perfect dialogue with the creative writers. I know that Leif is very impressed and happy with the final series.

Whose idea was it to cast Sweden’s top comedian Robert Gustafsson as a sombre crime inspector, plagued by personal demons?
SS: It was a strange coincidence. Leif GW Persson was inspired by Bo Widerberg’s 1976 procedural The Man on the Roof, which had comedian Carl-Gustav Lindstedt in the main role. When we produced the original Martin Beck series in the early 90s, we used comedian Gösta Ekman. Then Aron Levander and Hans Jörnlind had the same idea for the part of inspector Peter Wendel, so basically we all shared a common vision from the very beginning. Robert Gustafsson is a brilliant comedian; this was a very challenging role for him, especially in a long-running series.

Crime is very much the core of Yellow Bird’s output. How do you make sure you keep invigorating the genre?
SS: There is more competition today with the main streaming platforms producing quality drama. The challenge for us is to break the traditional Nordic noir pattern and move into the sub-genre of the dominant traditional inspector/detective crime genre crime, the way Yellow Bird did with Occupied, which is a political thriller. We are therefore constantly looking for new writers with fresh ideas, to complement our existing top pool of writers.

What was your budget and who were your co-financiers?
SS: Our budget was around €6.8m for eight episodes which was adequate for the quality we wanted. We had a mix of traditional and streaming services on board: Kanal5 Sweden, DR, TV Norge, Viaplay, Simmin in Iceland, as well as Nordisk Film, our long-time European partner Lumiere Group in Benelux. We received support from the Swedish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond.  Our international distributor Banijay Rights did a pre-sale to ALE Kino Poland and will launch the show at MIPCOM in October.

What are the next Yellow Bird TV dramas lined up for 2018/2019?
SS: Our other high-end show Hidden [Förstfödd], based on a novel by Filip Alexanderson has just wrapped in Budapest and will premiere on Viaplay later this year. Then we have five major productions coming up - three Swedish and two international that we will announce soon.

You’re one of the producers of the latest US Millennium feature adaptation The Girl in the Spider’s Web. How was your experience?
SS: We unfortunately do not have tax incentives in Sweden - unlike in Norway, Finland or Iceland - so the team ended up shooting only three days in Stockholm, and the rest in Berlin and Hamburg. For David Fincher’s film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, we had 100 days of shooting in Sweden. That was fantastic for the Swedish crew and local industry. But we missed on that opportunity with The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

I think it was a good idea to do a reboot of the casting and Sony did an excellent choice to pick Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez. After his breakthrough film Don’t Breathe, he could basically do whatever he wanted and he chose to do the Lisbeth Salander/Millennium film because he had enjoyed the original Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that was an inspiration for his reboot.

On a personal level, I had the time of my life on The Girl in the Spider’s Web! I had all the fun parts - reading scripts, going to the set, discussing the film with the director and cast, without the financial responsibility and the hard work that usually goes with it, so I feel humbled to share the credit. The Millennium series has been an amazing journey for me.