Nathanel Goldman

Usually, it is his characters who are being interviewed. We decided to shift the perspective and met with young TV producer talent Nathanel Goldman.

Usually, it’s my characters who are being interviewed. No one is interested in the maker of the show. I have chosen to stand behind the camera for a reason though. When you’re behind it you have the power to visualize and shape the characters as you want. You can’t do that in front of the camera in the same way. It’s the person behind the camera that decides what the people should see, and that’s such a cool thought. That’s why I want to make TV and film. There are a lot of different kinds of artists, but usually their work doesn’t reach as broad an audience as it would do through TV. Everyone has a TV that they watch at home every day. That’s power. I’m just happy that people can see what I do.

That is how our talk initiates in a noisy café in central Stockholm. Nathanel Goldman, with his company Nanushka Television, is Sweden’s latest up and coming TV producer. With a confidence strengthened by both his multicultural heritage and the success he’s seen in the media industry, he has great visions for the future.

Tell me about you background.
– I was studying a vocational training program for two years to become a TV producer. After that I did some freelance work for various production companies and newsrooms, but I wanted to do something on my own and came up with the idea for the series Klubben, a show about a club and some club profiles. I was twenty-three when I came up with that idea. My mother encouraged me to pitch it to the big TV channels, but I just though that she was too old to understand that it doesn’t work that way. A twenty-three-year-old guy can’t just pitch an idea.

I recognize that situation, my mother is saying that I should just call the editor in chief at Dagens Nyheter, Peter Wolodarski, and ask if I can write for them. Like it’s that simple.
– But I think they have a point though. My dad is Israeli and he’s always telling me to use my Israelian cheekiness. It is so rare to use your elbows in a country like Sweden, so if you do, you’ll stand out from the crowd. I think it’s a lot harder in New York or Israel, for example, because everyone is doing it there. In Sweden people are more boxed and careful.

Usually it’s my characters
who are being interviewed.
No one is interested in
the maker of the show

– I think the people over at SVT, the Swedish National Television, thought it was funny that we were young people who wanted to create TV for young people. I was shocked when they said they were interested, I thought it was just going to be an artistic project among our friends. To me, it was a realisation to understand that I can do what I want now, that you don’t have to be an old and experienced producer to create a show. When we were editing Klubben my mom told me to make hay while the sun shines and come up with some new ideas. That was stressing me so much, I felt that I had to grasp the opportunity! So I began to run around meeting model guys.

How did you come up with of the idea of Modellpojkar?
– I wanted to make TV with commercially viable subjects and try to connect them in a different way. Clubs and models are something young people are fascinated by, and find glamorous.

And you won the Chrystal, the official Swedish television award, for it, the youngest one who’s ever received it.
– True! I was thinking I could win it someday, but not with the second show I did. Naturally, it made me grateful and happy, but it also gave me the confidence to keep doing this. I’m thinking that, if I can do that now, I will be able to do even better things in the future. To have it black on white like that was a great acknowledgment, and it  strengthened me a lot.

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When I first saw the show Klubben I remember thinking it was strange that no one had created a show like that before. It was such a fresh idea. Why do you think it hadn’t been made before?
– That’s fun to hear. I think it’s because most documentary shows are usually made according to American standards. That’s why it’s good to come in as a small creator.

Why were the episodes so short though?
– To make television, you need a lot of money and a lot of time. To create a story that will last for a whole thirty minutes takes a lot of time. That’s also why we have so many different characters, so the audience doesn’t get bored.

– Another reason the episodes are short is because it’s a new platform, the possibility to see it online. It’s easily accessible; young people can watch the series on their smartphones while on the tube, for example. I think that’s a privilege for us as a small production company, being able to do these web shows.

If I was able to win
the biggest Swedish TV
award at the age of twenty-five,
I think everything is possible

Are you trying to angle the characters in your show, or do you keep an objective perspective?
– To us, it’s important that the characters are present in the creation process, and that they get to watch the episodes before the series is aired. There are no pointers in what we do, that’s not the purpose. With Modellpojkar, our vision was to make a neutral and honest portrait of a group of young people with extraordinary jobs. It’s up to the viewer to decide what they think about the characters and make judgements about them.

Tell me about Nanushka.
– Nanushka is a small production company that I started together with two colleagues. It began with the series Klubben, that turned out to be quite successful. We didn’t quit our day time jobs right away, but we rented an office and it worked out really good. Nowadays we’re able to make a living out of it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, the freedom of being able to do what I want, to decide when I want to start working, and how I want to plan my days. I want to turn it into a big and growing company, with more employees and ideas.

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Where does the name Nanushka come from?
– Nanushka is a nick name for grandmother in Russian. I used to call my old Jewish grandma that, and I thought it was a funny name for the company.

You are originally from Israel and moved to Sweden at the age of ten. How do you think your Israeli heritage has influenced you and your way of working?
– I think the duality of belonging to two cultures is very enriching. When I was a kid it was something negative, I used to call myself a super Swedish name in school because I thought the name Nathanel Goldman was weird. Now that I’m a grown up, it has turned into something positive.

– At the moment, I’m starting an affiliated company in Israel, and our plan is to work on more international projects. We are also starting a Turkish affiliate; my co-worker is Turkish, so we’ve been there on business trips and made some good connections. So we are heading for the Middle East now. We have established a partnership with Eyeworks television, one of the biggest production companies in the world, and they will help us to get our projects out there. I think 2014 will be a really good year! We’ll have to catch up in a year and see what has happened.

– It might sound like a cliché, but my most important message to others is to believe in yourself, and just try to get your ideas through. You shouldn’t be scared of trying; if people were too scared to try things, nothing would ever happen. If I was able to pitch a show at the age of twenty-three, and win the biggest Swedish TV award at the age of twenty-five, I think everything is possible. It’s vital to think that you can make your dreams come true.

– My parents are always telling me this joke about an Israeli man who is always complaining about not winning the lottery, when someone advises him to actually buy a lottery ticket. I think that story is applicable to real life.

Photos by Mathilda Österlund.