Stefan Eichenberger • Producer, Contrast Film
"We're looking for stories that create contrast, that show things in a new light"
- Selected as part of Producers on the Move, the Swiss producer tells us what defines him as a producer and how strongly he believes in the emerging Swiss film Industry
As the main producer of Contrast Film, Stefan Eichenberger is responsible for several award-winning films, including the documentary Unknown Territory [+see also:
film profile] which won the First Steps Award in Berlin and the Golden Eye at the Zurich Film Festival and the feature Midnight Runner [+see also:
interview: Hannes Baumgartner
film profile] which premiered in competition at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and received the Special Mention from the International Jury at the Zurich Film Festival. Besides that, Eichenberger has completed various development and training programs, including the Torino Film Lab, EKRAN+, Trans Atlantic Partners, Full Circle Lab. Now, he's been selected for the EFP's Producers on the Move 2022.
Cineuropa: How do you decide which stories or talents to put under the spotlight? What kind of stories catch your attention as a producer?
Stefan Eichenberger: At Contrast Film, we're looking for stories that create contrast, that show things in a new light. Our films should stimulate the viewer, either emotionally or intellectually. Ideally, this stimulation initiates a process of reflection within the viewer.
What defines you as a producer?
I see myself as a creative producer. Meaning that I'm not only in charge of budget, financing and rights but also a creative partner for the writers and directors. I see my role as producer also as a creator who sets themes and subjects and gives them to suitable writers and directors. So about half of the ideas for our films and series come from us creative producers at Contrast Film.
How do you see the future of filmmaking (and movie production) after the pandemic?
I think there will be a big shift in exploitation: from cinema to streaming platforms. Cinema will not die away, but it will change, there will be fewer and fewer films that are first exploited in cinemas. We're already seeing that on a small scale here at Contrast Film: while a few years ago we had almost exclusively theatrical films in our slate, today around half of our projects are films and series for streaming platforms.
How do you see the current state of the Swiss film industry?
In my eyes, the Swiss film industry is emerging! There is a bunch of young directors with strong voices and their own style, especially in fiction. This is also reflected in the selection for festival: while a few years ago Swiss films flew under the radar, they are now showing in competition at the Berlinale, Cannes, San Sebastian, etc.
What projects are you working on right now?
We have around 20 projects on our slate, half of which are series. Among them is also the biggest series in the history of Switzerland, the spy drama Davos with a budget of over €17 million. At the cinema level, we are preparing, among other films, the arthouse drama Antonia’s Garten by Christine Repond. The film tells the story of a young woman who wants nothing more than to lead a normal life with husband and child – but how is that possible if she only feels sexually attracted to under-age boys?
What are your expectations for Producers on the Move 2022?
Producers on the Move offers me the one time chance to simultaneously expand my network and my knowledge. To get updated on the latest trends of the industry and at the same time getting to know new promising producers that share the same uncompromising love for the art of filmmaking is a unique source of inspiration!
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