- Estonian producer Aet Laigu is most commonly seen paired with director Kadri Kõussar, and the two have teamed up yet again for the film Mother
Young Estonian producer Aet Laigu, general manager of Meteoriit, is most famous for her collaboration with the often-controversial Estonian director, Kadri Kõusaar. After working as a line producer on Kõusaar’s Magnus, a film which premiered at Cannes in 2007 but remains largely unseen due to on-going litigation, she went on to produce Kõusaar’s The Arbiter [+see also:
film profile], which had its international premiere at Karlovy Vary, and her latest film Mother [+see also:
film profile]. Recently returning from the latter's international premiere at the Tribeca film festival, Laigu discussed the beginnings for her career with Cineuropa as well as her hopes for the Producers on the Move programme.
Cineuropa: How did your career begin and what inspired you to become a producer?
Aet Laigu: The short answer is some Bulgarians and a Frenchman. The long story started more than 15 years ago. During the last year of my economics studies, I was working in the international marketing department of one of the largest steel manufacturers in Eastern Europe, and I just realised that this is not quite what I imagined myself doing for the rest of my life. So, in the spur of the moment, I bought myself a one-way ticket to Iceland, where I became friends with a group of Bulgarians and our most common pastime was watching films, sometimes until the very early hours of the morning. I remember clearly that it was seeing Luc Besson’s The Big Blue that literally decided it for me.
Throughout your career you have chiefly worked with director Kadri Kõusaar who has often proved to be a controversial and powerful filmmaker. What do you think makes the nature of your collaboration work so well?
Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a key, but also solid contracts.
Tell us a little about Mother, your most recent collaboration with Kõusaar. It seems quite a small and intimate film yet it still had a big impact.
Mother is something that just came to me. It’s the fastest that I’ve ever produced a film: it went from an idea to a final cut in just seven months. And this entire experience has made me truly understand the importance of a good story as well as a high-quality screenplay. Although, I don’t, in any way, wish to diminish the importance of a director or cinematographer in making a film, I question whether the mise-en-scène alone would have had such a big impact.
What are your views on the films that are currently being made in Estonia – what are the positives and negatives in terms or both production and output.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen all the latest Estonian films, but I believe that I have found my niche.
What do you think Estonia needs to do – if anything – to take its filmmaking industry to the next level?
Estonia needs to learn to be proud of, celebrate and support every single Estonian film and Estonian filmmaker that makes it anywhere outside our miniscule country.
What projects are you looking to work on in the future?
My current focus is features – character driven stories from anywhere and about anything really.
This year will see a Latvian, a Lithuanian and an Estonian as Producers on the Move. How important do you think it is for the Baltic film industries to collaborate and learn from each other?
Any kind of learning and collaboration is essential for the progress of an industry, however, I believe that such collaboration cannot be forced, be it geo-politically in any other way, it has to grow naturally out of necessity.
What do you hope to get out of Producers on the Move?
I wish to get some of the projects that I’m currently working on moving forward!