Industry Report: Produce - Coproduce...
Berlinale 2008 Co-Production Market - Case Study Love and Other Crimes
- Passion and Other Requirements, a case-study organised by the Co-production Market of the Berlinale in cooperation with Cineuropa.org
With producer Misa Mogorovic (Art & Popcorn, Serbia), producer Herbert Schwering (Coin Film, Germany), co-producer Gabriele Kranzelbinder (KGP Kranzelbinder Gabriele Production, Austria), sales agent Tobias Pausinger (The Match Factory, Germany), and director Stefan Arsenijevic
Moderator: Jonathan Davis
Love and Other Crimes [+see also:
film profile] (Panorama Special 2008/Berlinale Co-Production Market 2006) is a co-production between four countries, the result of seven months of financing and one international co-production. The film is Stefan Arsenijevic’s feature debut, made as a German-Serbian-Austrian-Slovenian co-production.
Synopsis: Anica lives in New Belgrade, a miserable district of tower blocks. She is the mistress of Milutin, a wealthy local criminal who owns a solarium and runs a protection racket. Anica is determined not to grow old in this dump, where neither love nor life seem to offer her a decent future. One grey winter’s day Anica has an idea to steal money from Milutin’s safe, get on a plane and leave the country forever.
Jonathan Davis (moderator): Love and Other Crimes is a text book case of the European co-production system. It is important to stress the way people meet and how the financing was put in place. How many partners did you bring together and how did you meet?
Herbert Schwering (producer): We had 15 financing partners. I meet the first partner, Match Factory, at ACE training, the Ateliers du Cinéma Européen. The Match Factory has been involved from a very early stage.
Stefan Arsenijevic (director): This is my first feature film. Before that I made some short films that worked well at festivals. It was destiny that my career should begin with a Golden Bear in 2003 for the Oscar-nominated short (A)Torsion, before I returned to present the collective film Lost and Found in 2005 made by six young filmmakers. I presented the project Love and Other Crimes in 2006 at the Co-production Market. Herbert Schwering decided to produce my first film.
The film has both a personal dimension (I grew up in the area and I take my inspiration from a true story) and socio-political significance: over the past ten years, hundreds of thousands of Serbians, especially young people, have emigrated.
Even with 15 partners and co-producers, I ultimately made the film I wanted to make.
Jonathan Davis: Was it a project you had been developing for a long time?
Stefan Arsenijevic: Yes, this was my first time working on a script for a feature-length film.
I wrote 20 versions of the treatment. It is a mosaic of small stories and I was improving the construction of the dramaturgy all the time. After this long process, it took me a few days to write the final script.
I found it very complex. So I asked my friends to join me, Srdjan Koljevic and Bojan Vuletic, friends from the Academy. This movie is very complex; it follows the life of one woman from dawn till dusk. It is a mosaic because she is saying goodbye to past life. At the end she steals money and leaves the country. Through the story and the people she meets we can imagine what her life looks like.
What was most exciting for me was working with the actors. I’m lucky because I had the opportunity to work with such remarkable actors, like Milena Dravic – for the third time – and Pedjo Stojanovic. As it is a Serbian/German/Austrian/Slovene co-production we had a crew from all these countries. The fact that this is a co-production gave me an opportunity to make a universal film. The creative part of the crew that came in helped me see Belgrade from a different perspective. Together we made it more poetic. I had very good artistic influences.
Jonathan Davis: To what extent do the different treatments you wrote reflect the different feedback you were getting at the different markets?
Stefan Arsenijevic: I was listening to everybody – and their contradictory point of views. It is a good exercise because you test different things and you see what is working and what is not. Having different point of views helps you have a universal story.
Jonathan Davis: The film was made very quickly after its presentation at the Co-production market.
Stefan Arsenijevic: Yes, I worked under pressure from the producers to finish the script. It’s a winter film and the producers wanted to shoot in January/February. It was a good thing, I need pressure to do a good job.
Jonathan Davis: How did you start putting together the financing?
Misa Mogorovic (co-producer): We got the development fund form the South-East Cinema Network(*) in 2004 and Hubert Bals Fund in Rotterdam in January 2006. We pitched the project without a script, presenting the emotional aspects of the project. The financiers trusted us and asked to deliver the first draft of the script at Cannes 2006.
Herbert Schwering: The script was written with Anica Dobra in the lead role in mind. Anica is very well known in Germany and Slovenia. Actually, Stefan did not ask her if she was ready to act in the film. It was a gamble with the financers, but ultimately it worked out well.
Jonathan Davis: Why did you decide to finance precisely this film?
Herbert Schwering (co-producer): Stefan had been nominated for an Oscar for his first short film. I proposed to finance his first feature film, I did not choose to finance this one precisely.
Jonathan Davis: Gabriele, at which time did you join the project?
Gabriele Kranzelbinder (co-producer): I joined the project at Cinemart in 2006. We made a co-production before with Herbert in 2005.
Jonathan Davis: Is the film very different from the project you saw in Cinemart?
Gabriele Kranzelbinder: No, it’s very similar, especially the atmosphere.
Jonathan Davis: Eurimages makes up about 16% of the film’s budget. Forty percent of the financing comes from Germany, of which one-third from Northern Westphalia. The biggest contribution is from the Vienna Film Found, with €150,000. Peter, when you decide to back the project with €150,000?
Peter Zawrel (director of Vienna Film Fund): We are a public fund and we were convinced by the subject. I thought that post-production could be done in Vienna. We have very good post-production companies in Vienna.
Jonathan Davis: What are the most important creative elements that came out of Vienna?
Gabriele Kranzelbinder: The most important element is the music, which was composed by Austrian musicians (except for the main song). Slovenia contributed with the technical part of the crew and with the director of photography, Simon Tansek. This co-production was very successful in getting money from Eurimages in that it is from Germany, Austria, Serbia and Slovenia. It gives us an opportunity to explore new cultural aspects and to ultimately make a good movie.
Misa Mogorovic (co-producer): After Eurimages joined in, the co- production was now worth €4m with 40% from Germany’s Herbert Schwering and Serbia’s Art & PopCorn and the other 20% from Amour Fou Austria and Slovenia’s Arkadena. When we finished Omnibus, Herbert, Stefan and I decided to go down this long path for our new movie Love and Other Crimes. We needed three years to work together with all the co-producers, to do the hard part. Our project is proof that the system of European co-production works after we arranged a few meetings at film markets.
We had a lot of problems in getting subsidies from Serbia, even though the film was shot in Belgrade. There is a fund for first feature filmmakers from the City of Belgrade. We applied twice and were rejected! Nobody understood why the project from the Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stefan Arsenijevic was refused! We did a massive press campaign and we finally got some funds for post-production. This money was really important in getting Eurimages support (as the film was shot in Belgrade, for Eurimages we needed co-financing from Serbia).
Jonathan Davis: From Match Factory’s point of view, what is your selling strategy?
Tobias Pausinger (sales agent): I have to say that we were involved in a very early stage in the project. Of course we knew each other, Stefan was not a random first feature director and we felt very safe with the pool of people working on the film. We decided to invest a high amount of minimum guarantee, which is not normal for first features.
From a marketing point of view, we travelled together to different festivals to market the project. We started creating awareness around the project at last year’s Cannes, with pictures, stills and rushes from the film. It’s difficult to pre-sell a film these days, especially if it is a first feature film from Serbia. We prepared an upcoming folder just to raise awareness and be able to talk with people in markets and festivals. We at least succeeded in having good exposure in Berlin – there is a lot of anticipation because the team was around quite a lot.
Jonathan Davis: Did all the partners in the film market it?
Tobias Pausinger: Yes it’s a personal and character business. The more you meet and you talk about the film, the better it is.
Jonathan Davis: What are the expectations for this kind of film (a relatively accessible Serbian film)?
Tobias Pausinger: The film came at the right time. We saw a lot of films from the Balkans, but this film is different because it is made with humour. There is a very good atmosphere and tone I have not seen in other films.
Jonathan Davis: What are Match Factory’s sales estimates for the film?
Tobias Pausinger: It’s very hard to say! Europe is the main target – we hope we can at least recoup our investment and make a little profit.
(*) Objective of the South Eastern Cinema Network:
- The promotion and development of the national filmmaking industry of each country that participates in the present organization as member, in the rest member-states and in countries outside the network.
- Bilateral and multilateral cooperation of the Network members from and towards all sides in the sections of production, cultural and financial promotion and preserving the cinema heritage and tradition of each member-state.
- The creation of a common co-productions fund.
- The promotion of the cooperation and/or co-production with other film networks in Europe and/or the rest of the world.