by Birgit Heidsiek
- Undine Filter, a producer at the Leipzig-based production company Departures Film, supports writers and directors as they turn their vision into reality
Undine Filter has worked for several production companies over the course of her career, which she set out on upon the completion of her Masters in Theatre Studies/Cultural Communication and English & American Studies in 2000. In 2010 she founded the production outfit Departures Film together with producer Thomas Král. She is currently working on Markus Imboden’s The Face and Serhat Karaaslan’s Passed by Censor, which she will presenting at Cannes as part of the Producers on the Move programme.
Cineuropa: What kind of projects are you taking to Cannes?
Undine Filter: I’m bringing The Face to the round table of the Producers on the Move. Markus Imboden will create a lab-like environment in which elements of civil society are taking root in an estranged village community. We have already received development funding for the project by the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung. I’ll also be presenting the social drama Passed by Censor by Serhat Karaaslan. This Turkish project was developed at the 2014 MFI Script 2 Workshops and the 2015 Cannes Cinéfondation Residence Program. We presented it at the Co-Production Market in Berlin in 2015. The story is about surveillance. The protagonist reads and censors the mail of the prisoners.
What do you expect from the Producers on the Move programme?
The nomination is a real honour. I am very thankful to the European Film Promotion and German Films because this way our company is in the spotlight. It is also a great chance to swap ideas on stories with the other participants in a more personal way. A co-production is like a “temporary marriage” in which you have ups and downs and are always pulling together. I am curious to meet colleagues and discover their projects because I am always looking for projects that I can join as German partner.
How do you select stories and projects?
My partner Thomas Král and I are not looking for a particular genre. But we are focusing on arthouse projects that are sometimes pretty edgy. We all know that they are difficult to finance., and I think that takes courage, like with our project A Heavy Heart [+see also:
interview: Thomas Stuber
film profile]. We are aware that a story about a boxer who suffers from ALS won‘t attract a million viewers but we are delighted that we can work with a talented director like Thomas Stuber. And it is a sign that the film received five nominations at the German Film Awards. At the same time, we always need to figure out our projects’ financing options and distribution potential. We are also developing more commercial arthouse projects. But their subject matter needs to appeal to us in an emotional way and they have to surprise us.
Do you focus on certain countries?
We always decide to co-produce if we like a project, not a country. The projects need to be a match with us – as do the filmmakers. We have already worked with the Czech Republic Romania and Russia as well as France and Switzerland. We continue to work with various partners. With some non-European countries the access for financing from Germany is limited and therefore more difficult to handle.
What is the ideal co-production partner like?
Trust and respect on both sides are crucial. This is the basis for any creative exchange. We also actively participate in the development process and give advice and support during every step, even if we are minority co-producers. When we are reading the first draft of the script we think about which direction the story might run. And we check with the co-producers if we share the same vision.
Why is your production company called Departures Film?
We included the element of departure in our name because, as production partners, we like to support writers and directors as they turn their vision into a film. Movies are like journeys and take us to other worlds and show us new perspectives. Therefore, “departures” was perfect for us.
What are your goals as producer?
Of course, we’d like our company to grow, which, in turn, means bigger financing shares, budgets or more projects. At the same time, we’d like to contribute to a better understanding of other cultures. European co-productions are an expression of the idea of a common Europe, which, right now, is more important than ever.
What are your upcoming projects?
This summer, we are going to shoot the documentary Sie nannten ihn Spencer, an Austro-German co-production, with and about Bud Spencer aka Carlo Pedersoli. The director Karl-Martin Pold is going to do it as a road movie and is already attracting the Spencer Hill fans. Although the film has not even been shot yet, it has more than 200,000 Facebook followers. We are also developing Magic Quill by Marek Najbrt in cooperation with Czech producer Punk Film. For the first time, we’re taking a punt on a family entertainment project because the bizarre and funny aspects of the script convinced us from the first page on.