by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Danish, German-born producer Katja Adomeit started making short films on shoestring budgets – now she is a regular at the international festivals, including at Cannes with Force Majeure
Although she did not start her own company, Adomeit Film, until late 2011, Danish producer Katja Adomeit is already a regular at the international film festivals. Last year, she co-produced Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile], which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize; her first production, New Zealand-Danish director Daniel Joseph Borgman's The Weight of Elephants [+see also:
film profile] (2013), was launched at the Berlinale, and most recently, she backed Swedish director Frida Kempff’s Winter Buoy, which competed for Best Nordic Documentary at Sweden’s Göteborg International Film Festival.
German-born Adomeit graduated from Copenhagen’s Super16 film school in 2012, but from 2006 onwards, she worked for Peter Aalbæk Jensen and Lars von Trier’s Zentropa Entertainments, until she started out on her own. She produced Danish-Swedish director Anna Eborn's Pine Ridge [+see also:
film profile] (2013), about a group of young Native Americans in South Dakota, which snagged a Dragon Award at Göteborg and was selected for Venice.
She produced and co-directed Not at Home (2013), about a group of Afghan refugees, with Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat, and they will now continue their collaboration; she will also be working on new films by Borgman and Eborn.
Cineuropa: You have been on the move a lot yourself. Why did you decide to live and set up a company in Denmark?
Katja Adomeit: After finishing my Media Communication studies in Hamburg in 2004, I moved to New Zealand as a director’s assistant for adverts. When I came back to Germany, I still wanted to go somewhere, so I contacted production companies all over the world, the ones I liked, and Zentropa Entertainments responded. Peter Aalbæk Jensen invited me for an interview; he said, “Learn Danish, then you can start!” I immediately moved to Denmark, studied 13 hours a day for the next three months and began as his personal assistant immediately after. Zentropa and Denmark became my new home.
How (and where) did you get into the film industry in the first place? Did you always want to become a filmmaker?
In Denmark, I started producing short films on shoestring budgets with a “zero waste” concept – nothing from the shoot should end up as rubbish. But no, maybe I never had this dream of becoming a filmmaker, or maybe I never thought about it. Now I wouldn’t change it for anything.
How do you get involved in your productions, if you don’t instigate them yourselves? What do you look for in a project?
Most of the time, I work with the same scriptwriters and directors. If I get a new partner, it is because I fall in love with the person – could be a director, could be a producer. There are producers who I would do anything for, because they are absolutely amazing, and their projects are extremely good, and they share the same ideas about films and filmmaking as I do. People like David Herdies from Sweden, Xavier Rocher and Marina Perales Marhuenda from France, and of course Peter Aalbæk Jensen and Philippe Bober.
In terms of projects, I don’t want to produce any traditional drama. I want to find non-traditional methods that can be low-budget or cost-efficient, but which can also offer a more creative environment – I’m looking for a lighter way to go about things, which can change the final product.
You have also started directing films – where do you see your future, on the director’s or the producer’s chair?
The producer’s chair. The films I have directed and the one I’m doing now all had a specific reason for me to both direct and produce. But it is an incredibly crazy experience to be the director: the vulnerability and the number of decisions a director needs to make are absolutely nuts, I think, and it made me realise even more how important the role of a producer is, and how important it is to support him or her. It takes a team of two.
Which productions do you consider your best achievements so far, and why?
There is no such thing as a best achievement. I just co-produced a low-budget short film with Iranian director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh and producer Zoe Sua Cho, and it rivals all my other productions.
What was your biggest challenge during a production, and how did you overcome it?
All productions are really challenging, each in its own way.
What do you think you are particularly good at – and what certainly not?
I’m amazing at creatively working together with directors, finding solutions and coming up with different ways of making films. And I’m really good at creative financing, working with very low budgets and never giving up, pushing each project to the end result.
I’m not very good at – and it bores me to death – working with administration and contracts. If it were up to me, I would love to work without any kind of contract, but granted, I suppose that doesn’t work.
What about your current projects? Which is the most imminent?
I am working with Danish director Annika Berg on her first feature film, Forever 13. She will graduate from the National Film School of Denmark in June, and we met in February. The project is at a stage even before the idea phase, but I have fallen in love with her, her vision, and her thoughts on how to make films – and why.
Another project is New Zealand director Daniel Borgman’s Across the Fields. Since 2007, we have made seven shorts and The Weight of Elephants together. This project started off with filming scenes with a real character, a disabled elderly woman, creating a visual screenplay instead of sitting in front of a desktop, writing.
I am also preparing Danish director Anna Eborn’s next documentary, Lida, which portrays a late Swedish woman living in Ukraine, one of the last deportees of Catherine the Great, who speaks Swedish as they did in the year 1800.
And I am working with 25-year-old Shahrbanoo Sadat on her debut feature, Wolf and Sheep [+see also:
interview: Shahrbanoo Sadat
film profile], which was developed during her Cannes Cinéfondation residency, and which we will shoot in August this year. Borgman, Eborn and Sadat will all be in production this year.
And the last one, if I can only mention a few, is Iranian director Anahita Ghazvinizadeh’s feature film They. Ghazvinizadeh won Cinefondation’s first prize at Cannes two years ago, and this film is about a teenager who is diagnosed with a gender-identity disorder and gets medicine to delay its outbreak.
What do you hope to get out of your Producers on the Move experience at Cannes?
To meet some new, amazing producers with whom new partnerships will develop. And to give some of my financiers, who help me on my projects, some publicity, even if it’s just a little.