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“It’s never easy in any country to get films funded. Latvia is no exception”

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Roberts Vinovskis • Producer


- At the 18th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Cineuropa found out what it’s like to be a producer in Latvia, and how Roberts Vinovskis chooses his projects

Roberts Vinovskis  • Producer
© Emilia Haukka

Roberts Vinovskis, the producer of Aik Karapetian’s The Man in the Orange Jacket [+see also:
film review
interview: Aik Karapetian
interview: Roberts Vinovskis
film profile
, was at the 18th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, where Cineuropa sat down for a chat to discover what it’s like to be a producer in Latvia, and how he chooses his projects.

Cineuropa: Would you say it’s hard to get funding in Latvia?
Roberts Vinovskis:
It is, but it’s never easy in any country to get films funded. Latvia is no exception. For The Man in the Orange Jacket, we didn’t even try; we just wanted to try the genre. I do think the state should support more cultural or social projects, but this was our attempt to see how the genre works, whether genre can help us to attract an audience or whether we could sell it abroad. So I invested my own money. That was the reason why this project took so long: I’m not rich enough to finance it in one year, so it took a few. In the end, it’s going quite well, though, with the sales and festivals.

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Do you think it would have been easier to get funding if horror hadn’t been such an unusual genre for Latvian cinema?
I don’t know; maybe. Because, actually, it is the first Latvian horror film in 20 years. By funding this film myself, though, I escaped all those complicated conversations with potential financiers. I think there’s no way in the film business to be 100% sure that something will work, anyway – as we see even with the big studios, where millions and millions are involved with the project, but still they fail. Of course, the more experience you have, the more you can make prognoses about how it will work, but nobody can be sure. 

What kind of producer do you see yourself as? Would you say you have a particular style?
I’ve never thought about defining myself as a particular type of producer, because I don’t have the biggest amount of experience. I’ve been working as one for maybe only seven years, so I’m still quite young for a producer. But basically, I’d say that being a producer in our region is not really a good business, because the country is small. So I would say, as I sometimes put it, that this is my very expensive hobby. My job is mostly other things I do. I would say I’m mostly a producer for my friends. 

Actually, I’m privileged because I don’t need to make movies all the time just for a living. I can choose topics or directors I like to work with; but then there’s just a limited number – it’s only a few auteurs I work with, because I know them, and I like the way they think and make movies. I just love to be a part of that. That would be a kind of definition of the kind of producer I am. 

Did you enjoy working with Aik?
Absolutely, because many young directors have good ideas, but Aik is very concentrated and he also stresses being a good craftsman above all (and only then will he be that creative person). You need to know many, many small things to make a film well and professionally, and Aik pays close attention to that, so it’s easy to work with him. He just knows what he wants, so I really enjoy working with him.

So are there any projects or genres you wouldn’t want to work on, even if you thought you’d get on well with the director?
There could be situations like that, but it would not be because I don’t want to make any particular genres or anything like that. I need to see the script. If the script is bad, it’s bad, and you have to work to make it better. If the script is good, though, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a horror film or a romantic comedy. You can find a great movie in any genre. Of course, we do have some limitations in terms of budget. If you want to make a high-scale thriller, it wouldn’t really be possible with the budgets we work with. There are some things where huge budgets really are needed; but there are also films that can achieve an even better result with much smaller budgets.

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