by Vitor Pinto
- After graduating in Film and Television Sciences, Ellen Havenith worked in several Dutch companies and set up PRPL in 2011
After graduating in Film and Television Sciences in 2003, Ellen Havenith worked in several Dutch companies as a line producer and as a delegate producer for Joost van Ginkel's feature debut, 170HZ. In 2011, she set up PRPL, serving as a co-producer on Syllas Tzoumerkas's Greek family drama A Blast [+see also:
interview: Syllas Tzoumerkas
film profile] and Rainer Sarnet's Rehepapp as well as producing van Ginkel's second feature, The Paradise Suite, and Mijke de Jong's Frailer. She is now developing new features by van Ginkel (Orange Juice) and Margot Schaap (Quicksand), and co-developing Tzoumerkas's The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea.
Cineuropa: What pushed you to open your own company?
Ellen Havenith: After my studies in Film and Television Sciences, I worked as a production manager and line producer for several Dutch companies, but I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Working with writer/director Joost van Ginkel on his short Kiss (2009), and later on his first feature, 170HZ (2010/2011), inspired me to speed up the process. He is simply the kind of person and filmmaker you really want to work with. I am an intuitive producer, and his strong visual sense and his capacity to deal with emotionally complex stories were quite appealing to me. Then we shared our big ambitions and my goal to produce brave and risk-taking films.
You’ve been actively developing international co-productions for PRPL, particularly Syllas Tzoumerkas's A Blast and Rainer Sarnet's Rehepapp. What were the biggest challenges about those two projects?
In A Blast, we had to deal with the Greek economic situation, which was quite unpredictable. For instance, the public television company was initially backing the film, and then, all of a sudden, the support was withdrawn. But Greek producer Maria Drandaki did an amazing job of finding ways to eliminate all the obstacles we faced. In Rehepapp, the biggest challenges were finding a pig, a goat and wolves that behaved the way we wanted them to behave.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of an international co-production?
The disadvantages are that you are working over a long distance, and cooperation is built on trust, which ideally should already exist before you start. But working with other cultures can be very creatively enriching. I first became aware of international co-producing schemes when I did some training at EAVE.
Can you tell us about some of the company's other projects, such as Mijke de Jong’s Frailer and Van Ginkel's The Paradise Suite?
Frailer was an inspiring journey, without a script and letting ourselves be guided by the illness of actress Leonoor Pauw. It was like defining and redefining fiction film, over and over again. The Paradise Suite is both a raw and a poetic exaltation of human life. Six people seem to have nothing in common apart from a faraway motherland. But when their new existence in Amsterdam takes a grim turn, their fight to ease their pain will bond them forever. We are wrapping the film, and we are looking for a nice festival premiere for that. It turned out to be this amazing, intense, confrontational but poetic film.
Which projects are you developing now?
I am working on the development of Joost van Ginkel’s third film, Orange Juice. In parallel I am co-producing Tzoumerkas' new project, The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea. Working with him again was also one of my goals. I want to build creative and reliable relationships with both national and international filmmakers.
What are your expectations for the Producers on the Move initiative?
For me, international co-producing is a fact. So I will be looking for co-producers for all my future projects. The most important thing about co-producing is trust. A networking event like Producers on the Move can really offer the necessary time to explore an emotional, creative and professional connection in which trust can be built.