by Laurence Boyce
- Latvian director Roberts Vinovskis is one of his country’s most prolific producers, and is now becoming hugely visible on the Baltic and international scenes
Roberts Vinovskis, of Locomotive Productions, is a prolific producer in his native Latvia who has produced a number of high profile films over the past few years. From working with rising star Aik Karapetian on his debut feature People Out There [+see also:
film profile] and the follow-up horror The Man In The Orange Jacket [+see also:
interview: Aik Karapetian
interview: Roberts Vinovskis
film profile] to co-producing the Latvian/Lithuanian hit co-production The Gambler [+see also:
interview: Ignas Jonynas
film profile], Vinovskis has been hugely visible on the Baltic and international scene.
As a Producer on the Move he will look to become even more of an important presence on the scene. Cineuropa asked him about his forthcoming projects and his hopes for Cannes.
Cineuropa: Tell us a little bit about background and how you broke into the film business.
Roberts Vinovskis: When I was 16, I was a camera assistant for the legendary Latvian documentary director Juris Podnieks. He needed an assistant, so I volunteered, but he turned me down, and told me I have to finish school first. But on the next day I showed up as a night school student, so he was left with no choice but to take me. So that is how I got acquainted with cinema. Soon after I made my first small movies and started my own studio Locomotive Productions in 1999.
You have been incredibly prolific over the past few years. Is that just a strong work ethic, a side effect of working in a relatively small country’s film industry of a relatively, or perhaps a combination of the two?
A few years ago I decided to do something good for my own health and did not drink a drop of alcohol for about 18 months. It seems to have had a rather dramatic effect, as soon after I found myself involved in so many projects that you could hardly consider this workload good for your health. So I did quit sobriety and am about to slow down a bit now. But whatever the impact it has on my health, this has been a very exciting and fruitful period – I have learned a great deal and the results altogether make me quite happy. I work with documentaries, features, animated shorts for kids, and feature animations, and I love this diversity. Could it be an advantage of a small country to have all these opportunities? If the answer is yes, then it is a good thing to be small sometimes.
What is your view on the state of the Latvian film industry, both positive and negative?
It's getting better and better with time. The number of films produced is not big, but the National Film centre, which is responsible for the development of industry’s politics, is doing a good job, so the perspective is quite good. The priority is diversity, which means spectators will have something to choose from, and that is very important. The down side is that, as with any creative profession, it takes practice to aquire the skills to produce great results. But as we are so short of funds, practice is difficult to acquire. So often we expect highly professional results from a debutants. But we have some talented people here.
What projects are you looking to work on in the future?
Right now we are developing three projects – a feature, One nine zero five, by Davis Simanis, the director of our latest movie Exiled [+see also:
film profile], as well as an animated film by Signe Baumane, the amazing animation director and director of Rocks In My Pockets [+see also:
interview: Signe Baumane
film profile]. This year a new drama/thriller Firstborn by Aik Karapetian will be completed.
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?
We are small states and have to cooperate, so I am really glad to see this tendency is expanding. I have been involved in five Baltic co-productions and can say that our production capacity is quite similar, so it is very important to work together.
Furthermore how was your experience on The Gambler – on which you were a co-producer – which was pushed in Lithuania as one of the most successful films it ever produced.
That was my first co-production and a great, great experience. Co-productions that are creative, not just financial, are the most inspiring. I like it best that way and always try to choose my co-production partners accordingly.
What do you hope to get out of Producers on the Move?
To learn other producers’ experiences, and of course to network – something essential to any producer working internationally.