by Martin Kudlac
- After being head of co-productions, development and marketing at Barrandov Studios, Jan Macola decided to pursue a producer's career by founding production company Mimesis Film in 2012
Czech film critics and academics unanimously voted social drama The Way Out [+see also:
interview: Petr Václav
film profile] (read the review) the best film of 2014 - the title was the producing debut by Jan Macola, of Mimesis Film. After spending six years as head of co-productions and development and head of marketing at Barrandov Studios, Macola decided to pursue a producer's career by founding production company Mimesis Film in 2012. He established a long-term, ongoing collaboration with Czech director Petr Václav and is producing his upcoming projects Never Alone (see the news), It Will Be Better There, and his documentaries Olimpiade, Il Boemo and Confession of the Forgotten [+see also:
film profile], the latter of which was recently released domestically. Mimesis Film specialises in international co-productions as a majority or minority partner.
Cineuropa: You founded the production company Mimesis Film in 2012 after working long term for Barranadov Studios. What was behind this change in your career trajectory?
Jan Macola: My work for Barrandov Studios at times when Casino Royale, Narnia and the series Borgia were being shot enabled me to better understand the film industry in an international context. It was a great and exciting experience. After a certain amount of time, however, I started to feel that I would prefer to instead have the option to choose the projects I work on and, at the same time, to have a chance to shape the final product a little more. I am not sure yet whether it was a rational step; anyhow, I have not regretted it so far.
Your producing debut, The Way Out, became the most-awarded film in the Czech Republic. Did you know from the start that the project had such great potential?
Our decision to shoot such a film was stoked by neo-Nazi marches in districts where the Roma live and by their ever-deteriorating living conditions. We felt the need to show Romas in their everyday life, with the problems they experience as human beings in the context of a particular person's life. We were lucky enough to rapidly persuade Czech Television, the State Cinematography Fund and our French co-producers about the urgency and significance of the theme, though the film came into existence under very little media and public scrutiny. The turning point was after The Way Out won the Czech Film Critics' Awards (see the news) and seven Czech Lions (see the news). I think that it's too soon to judge the social impact of our film, though.
Czech films are usually co-produced by the neighbouring country of Slovakia, while The Way Out has French co-producers. Is this situation likely to change? Will Czech producers seek out more international co-production beyond the neighbouring countries, for example?
Considering the fact that Petr Václav lives in Paris, all his films that Mimesis Film has produced up until now have been made as Czech-French co-productions, including Never Alone, which is currently being finished, and the road movie It Will Be Better There, which is also going to be shot during the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. The majority of the films we are preparing are conceived as international co-productions. I consider the growth of international co-productions an irreversible trend. I believe it's one of the few ways to enable films without bigger commercial potential to reach foreign audiences.
Besides The Way Out, you are also producing other projects directed and written by Václav. Why are you drawn to his projects, and what would the editorial policy of Mimesis Film be?
I consider Petr Václav to be one of the most talented scriptwriters and directors that Czech cinema has seen since the 1990s. Moreover, he is extremely hard-working and focused on themes that resonate with my world view. As a producer, I am inclined towards authors and themes that allow me to conduct an inner dialogue with the world. I don't really know to what extent we can affect what's happening around us; nevertheless, I would not want to give up the opportunity to at least express my thoughts on the themes. So far, I have not figured out a better way to do it other than through the films I am producing.
What are your hopes for the European Film Promotion initiative Producers on the Move?
I would like to present my latest project to potential partners - Il Boemo, an epic film about the incredibly dramatic life of an opera composer from the 18th century - along with several other projects. I am also looking forward to meeting other producers.