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ZAGREB 2018 Industry

Zagreb shares experiences at the 1st vs. 2nd Film panel

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- Eight participants shared their varying experiences with first and second feature films at the industry panel at Zagreb Film Festival

Zagreb shares experiences at the 1st vs. 2nd Film panel
(l-r) Moderator Martina Petrović, producer Mark Byrne and directors Gustavo Pizzi, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson and Aldo Tardozzi (© Marko Lopac / ZFF)

One of the more attractive Zagreb Film Festival industry events, the 1st vs. 2nd Film panel, featured several participants with varying experiences in the field.

In the first part of the panel, three filmmakers shared their experiences dealing with limitations and expectations with their first and second feature films.

Iceland's Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson stated that the remake deal for his debut Either Way [+see also:
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interview: Hafstein Gunnar Sigurdsson
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(remade in the US as Prince Avalanche by David Gordon Green) helped to finance his second feature, Paris of the North [+see also:
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, but that substantial international success only came with his third film Under the Tree [+see also:
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interview: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
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, which premiered last year at Venice. Brazilian filmmaker Gustavo Pizzi, whose Sundance-premiered second feature Loveling was the opening film at Zagreb, talked about how he learned a lot by pitching his projects at different niche platforms, which are especially important in his native country, where there is less and less state funding for non-commercial cinema.

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The Croatian director Aldo Tardozzi shared his experiences with his debut feature Spots – filmed on a shoestring budget with improvised equipment and a cast and crew of both professionals and students – and the ongoing preparations for his second film, a genre piece called Štriguni. “For the second film I wanted to take a big step forward and have a real camera,” he said, adding that “the second film is always more elaborate, and I have more fears and expectations since I am working with a budget that’s 20 times bigger and I don’t think that I can make a film that’s 20 times better.”

The Irish producer Mark Byrne, known for his work for Element Pictures on films by Yorgos Lanthimos, who also used to work for the Irish Film Board, said that “there are funders in the UK that are happy to work with talents from all over the world,” and revealed that the current Lanthimos film The Favourite [+see also:
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was actually intended to be his first film in English and that it did not happen for various reasons, including scheduling. “The Lobster [+see also:
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Q&A: Yorgos Lanthimos
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came as a pitch,” he said, adding that it took 18 months from the idea to script to production. “After The Lobster we never had problems financing Yorgos’ films,” he concluded.

The second part of the panel began with Antoine Le Bos’ presentation of European film lab Le Groupe Ouest and, within it, the Less Is More platform. This was followed by Zagreb Film Festival’s head of industry programme Inja Korać speaking about different ways in which the festival helps make and promote first and second films.

Producers Andraž Jerič of the Slovenian outfit Temporama and Dragana Jovović of the Serbian company Non-Aligned Films and Theory at Work also shared their experiences working on Darko Štante’s Consequences [+see also:
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interview: Darko Štante
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]
and Ognjen Glavonić’s The Load [+see also:
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interview: Ognjen Glavonić
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respectively. Jerič said that the work on Consequences went as planned, since the film got enough financing in Slovenia. Asked how the Toronto premiere happened, he replied: “We had a market screening at Cannes, and the people from TIFF were already interested and they liked the film. Everything was confirmed by July, two months later.”

Jovović stated that one of the unexpected issues in the early stages of working on The Load was the reputation Glavonić earned as a documentarian for his work on Depth Two [+see also:
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and even his previous no-budget documentary Živan Makes a Punk Festival, and that a lot of factors contributed to the Cannes premiere of the film, like the capable French co-producer, strategical thinking, and the director’s engagement in lobbying and promoting the film.

While not exactly a “make or break” moment, the second film often proves to be a tough challenge for many filmmakers, but as the panel showed, there are no rules, and everything depends on the individual qualities of directors, but also their producers in equal measure.

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