by Bénédicte Prot
03/05/2010 - When he created his own company, 27 Films, in 2005, Oliver Damian already had a solid background – his studies at the Konrad Wolf Film School of Babelsberg and 12 years of industry experience – and a clear intention to "focus on producing European and international feature film projects with high quality standards and commercial potential". His first production was Nana Djordjadze's Rainbowmaker [trailer]. He also participated on the French/German coproduction Dawn of the World [trailer], Mia Hansen-Løve's The Father of My Children [trailer, film focus] (Prix Un Certain Regard 2009), and is now a partner on Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky, which is about to start shooting.
Cineuropa: Your studies and career have been focused on production since the beginning. When and why did you decide you wanted to become a producer?
Oliver Damian: In 1992 I started studying at the Babelsberg Film school and realised production is the only job that allows you to create and work on a project from the very first stages until it hits the market. Plus, you have the freedom and independence to select your films, according to your wishes and needs.
What led you to create 27 Films ?
I was a partner in another production company here in Germany that was moving into big budget productions and a lot of my time and energy went into internal company issues as we had quite a lot of employees, which conflicted with my desire to produce smaller, independent European films. So five years ago I split, taking my projects with me, and set up 27 Films Production, named after my first feature film production, 27 Missing Kisses.
You put a clear emphasis on European and international projects. What are the advantages and difficulties you find in co-producing with foreign partners?
My background as a producer is clearly international. That is how I have worked on all my films. I am not focused on a certain region or a certain genre. The idea is to find exciting stories from around the world that say something about their region of origin. Feature films should be entertaining but they should also widen your horizon and favour discoveries.
What is refreshing about it is that, of course, you always get together with new people around a range of different ideas. At the same time it can become quite complex, as mentalities prove to be different. Working on production and accounting in a different manner every time certainly keeps you much busier than when you produce purely German films.
What new projects are you preparing?
I am looking for partners and a world sales agent for Francuski by Serbian director Goran Rebic (of Yugofilm), the extraordinary story of an escape from a 1960s Soviet work camp, which we want to shoot next year.
I am also developing a fantastic period love story set in China, Mr. Lu's Blues, by Swedish filmmaker Maria von Heland. It is a visually opulent film (involving DoP Roman Osin of Pride and Prejudice [trailer]) that depicts the forbidden love story of a young Russian jazz musician and a Chinese girl in a buzzing Shanghai of the 1930s.
There are a few more titles I am working on, as well as some minor co-productions.
What does your selection amongst the 2010 Producers on the Move mean to you? What do you hope to achieve in Cannes?
I am happy to have been selected as a Producer on the Move. It represents an appreciation of my previous work and I am sure the media buzz will help give my projects greater visibility. Another nice side effect, certainly, is making contact with other professionals and boosting new collaborations and co-productions.