by Giorgia Del Don
- Swiss director Joël Jent has produced several documentary and fiction projects including Samir's Iraqi Odyssey and is currently working on the director's next film, Baghdad In My Shadow
Joël Jent was born in 1983 in Wetzikon and grew up in Toggenburg, Switzerland. From 2004 to 2010 he pursued a programme of study in political science, film studies and social/economic history at the University of Zurich, which he completed in 2010 with a Master of Arts.
Since 2003, Joël Jent has produced several documentary and fiction projects (2 Francos, 40 Pesetas: Back to Switzerland [+see also:
film profile] by Carlos Iglesias and Samir’s Iraqi Osyssey [+see also:
film profile]), as wdell as films under his own direction. He has been working as the production manager and a producer at Dschoint Ventschr under the supervision of Karin Koch since 2011.
Cineuropa: Could you tell us a little about your background and what interests you as a producer?
Joël Jent: In 2003 I started directing and producing documentaries and short films. In 2011 I joined Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion because I wanted to learn more about international co-productions and improve my production know-how.
What I like most about my line of work is the mix of it. There's a very creative element to it, but it's also about believing – both in the film and being able to pull it off and, going further, creating the framework in order to make it possible. I love to see how an idea grows and becomes something powerful and how much passion it can bring out in the people involved in making it. I also really like the process of developing – discussions and refining of the script and dramaturgy. As a producer you have to find ways and solutions, when there aren’t any. I understand cinema as an art form and therefore I look for a strong vision and motivation when thinking about starting to work with a director.
What are the difficulties that a young Swiss producer has to face?
Switzerland is a very small market. Additionally we face a territory separated into four linguistic regions, which further decimates our possibilities when releasing a film. This leads to budget limitations, as our possibilities to recoup investments are limited. That’s why international co-productions are essential for us.
In the local market, like many European countries, we have to compete with the big advertising budgest of mainstream and foreign cinema and we have to find creative ways to work around that to reach out to as wide an audience as is possible for our films.
While we have a fantastic film funding system, it is also heavily regulated. We also have an ever-increasing number of production companies and, therefore, of competitors when applying for financing.
How was your experience as a producer on Iraqi Odyssey of the award-winning filmmaker and producer (Dschoint Ventschr’s co-founder) Samir?
Iraqi Odyssey was a very long and complex production. We were shooting around the world with local crews and in many different formats, including 3D. For Samir it was probably the most difficult film to make, as it is about his own family. Its filming was very personal and emotional.
It was difficult to narrow the film down to its final length of 163 minutes. As the film depicts 100 years of Iraqi history alongside the storyline of Samir’s family, almost everything we had in the early montage seemed relevant. We built a web platform (a transmedia project) for some of those stories we couldn’t include in the film. Some of them will also be published in a printed book this year.
Can you tell us something about your upcoming projects?
We are close to finalising financing for Samir’s new fiction feature Baghdad In My Shadow, which we plan to shoot at beginning of 2017 in Germany, the UK and Switzerland.
Alongside Swiss/UK director Marc Wilkins I am currently developing two features: The Saint Of The Impossible, an adaption of Arnon Grünbergs novel set to be shot in New York, and he is in the process of writing the feature version of Bon Voyage, the short refugee drama we shot on the Mediterranean Sea in January this year.
Besides working with Samir I am particularly focused on developing with young and promising Swiss directors.
What are your expectations for Producers on the Move?
I look forward to meeting and getting to know many new and interesting people and potential partners. I also have a very specific goal: I want to find a UK partner for my next fiction feature production, Samir’s Baghdad In My Shadow.