Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”
After a 25 year career producing commercials, short films and music videos, Rikke Katborg’s passion has expanded into the longform entertainment realm as an EP and producer of films including “A Beautiful Curse” which recently enjoyed its World Premiere at Cinequest.
Rikki was Managing Director at Bullet in Copenhagen before joining forces with Francois Chilot, whose philosophy, ethics and values she shares, and with whom she is a partner at acclaimed production company Les Producers.
What’s your origin story?
I grew up in a danish commune with my very young mother in the 70s surrounded by lot of creative people – anything was possible and everyone was free and fearless. It was a strange but great time and I only wish I had tried to live there as an adult.
Being in this creative environment I always suspected I would have something to do with art but I never imagined it would be filmmaking before I visited my best friend in LA. By chance we visited the set of a MC Hammer music video and I knew instantly that I wanted to be a film Producer.
How did you get into doing what you do?
I was preparing to study art history and a friend of mine was hiring at PA at the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi. First, I was scouting locations and then mostly making coffee on film shoots for the agency.
When the time came for me to start university, I was swallowed up by the advertising machine and just stayed in the business for the next 25 years.
Who were your mentors?
Early in life I appointed myself as my own mentor having long internal conversations about how to be the best in what I was doing. Once I became an adult my first two bosses — Malene Blenkov (who I work with again today) and Lars Bo Blake — gave me lessons in how to navigate within the business, combined with good creative judgment and ethics.
Lars Bo later appointed me CEO/Producer at Bullet Production and from there my career kicked off.
ALSO READ: See who else is on the 2021 Reel Women List
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Moving to Paris, becoming life partner and business partner with the same man, and trying to run a business very differently from the Danish way I knew so well!
If I could pick another it would definitely be producing my first feature film “A Beautiful Curse.” Not only because it was my first feature, but especially because the way we wanted to produce it was far from the normal way of doing things. We did not receive financial support from The Danish Film Institute, but financed the film entirely through my French production company Les Producers, through private investors, and with the genuine goodwill and generosity of the people of Fanø (the island where the whole film was shot).
How about your biggest disappointment?
I choose not to waste any heart and brain capacity by storing them. Life is too short to collect disappointments.
If being a woman is your superpower, how has it helped you?
I don’t think I have superpower because I am a woman, I have superpower because I am a person who decides I have the power. The power helped me early in my career when I was one of the only female CEO/producers running an advertising production company surrounded by men who knew how to smoke cigars. I had to learn how to smoke a cigar to get the superpower!
What’s your Kryptonite?
Everything I don’t know how to do is my Kryptonite.
How did a combination of pandemic, Black Lives Matter and QAnon affect you?
Because I live in Copenhagen now I often feel that we are on another planet. By this I mean we live so far away from some of those major real problems that other places are experiencing. Our country has been very well looked after during the pandemic.
Of course we are all missing our quasi normal life but we all have a place to stay and food on the table and a government paycheck. Yes, it’s hard for the kids not going to school and for the parents not being able to socialize as a group with a glass of wine – but overall we are rather lucky.
What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion?
Years ago when the amazing Alma Harél started her movement called Free The Bid now FREE THE WORK I knew she had something very important going on and it’s so great to see everything she is doing for true inclusion. Her latest development is a series project with Amazon studios and Proctor & Gamble about the 100 most remarkable women in the world . We need more Alma´s in the world, Let’s make a Alma Harél School !
If you’re Batwoman, who’s Robin?
I think Batman is cooler so I choose to be Batman and Robin must be all the amazing people around me who have lifted me up through the years. Like Robin is changing character my Robin also changes.
What’s the engine that pulls you?
Again, everything I don’t know how to do and want to know drives me. Acquiring distribution in the USA for “A Beautiful Curse” is my engine right now.
Climb in a time machine and tell 15-year-old you something
My daughter is 15 years old now and I tell her everyday – Just enjoy life! Full speed. It’s going to be ok.