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Julia Gebauer • Productrice, Way Creative Films

“L’industrie du film européenne ne fait pas assez attention à ce que veut le public”


- Alors qu’elle s’apprête à rallier Cannes, la représentante suédoise invitée à participer à Producers on the Move, est prête à briser le quatrième mur

Julia Gebauer • Productrice, Way Creative Films

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

Having worked at Way Creative Films since 2005, European Film Promotion’s Swedish Producer on the Move, Julia Gebauer, is currently developing The Swedish Connection and a film about French rally driver Michèle Mouton. “It’s an exciting one,” she says. “It’s time someone made a film about her.”

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Cineuropa: You are heading to France in just a few days’ time. What would you like to get out of this initiative?
Julia Gebauer:
Obviously, it gives you exposure. Directors usually get all the spotlight, which is to be expected, but it’s great that they are also redirecting some of it onto producers. We need it, too, especially if you work for a smaller company. This way, people can get to know you a little.

I feel that in the last couple of years, also due to the pandemic, so many people have left the industry. It’s good to refresh your international network. In Scandinavia, you often tend to work with the people you know, but this is a chance to see what else is out there. I already know there are quite a few producers in this group that I would like to work with, call them up in the future and say: “Hey, I have this new project.” These kinds of introductions are always very helpful.

The films you produce, or co-produce, seem very, very different – from the survival thriller Breaking Surface [+lire aussi :
interview : Joachim Hedén
fiche film
to the Jordanian-Palestinian drama 200 Meters [+lire aussi :
interview : Ameen Nayfeh
fiche film
They really are! Let’s face it – these days, the only company that can afford to have a “brand” is Disney. I listened to a presentation by [The Film Agency’s] Sarah Calderón once, and she placed all sales agents in this one grid. If you were to put me there, too, it would say that my company is small but fairly commercial. Even 200 Meters was ultimately picked up by Netflix. I always ask myself: “Would I watch this? Would I honestly pick it?” Knowing that really helps when I run into setbacks, and there are always some.

It sounds simple, but it’s an important question. I watch so many films that seem to be made for no one.
They are made for the directors themselves. It’s important to tell your story, and people should do that, but maybe sometimes an art gallery would be a better fit? The European film industry isn’t paying enough attention to what the audience wants. I don’t think it’s the right way forward.

There seems to be a market for productions that are relatively small but glossy, like Breaking Surface. It looks more expensive than it actually is.
Here in Sweden, we haven’t been doing genre at all – it has only started in the last couple of years. It has to do with financing because projects would get money either because they were very audience-driven, directed at families, for example, or because people wanted to have something at Cannes. But if you only go for these two extremes, you miss all the gold in between.

The audience is smarter than we are giving them credit for, and there is an appetite for intelligent storytelling. Of course, there are many B movies, and that’s not what we want either. We want something that has a soul and a real meaning to it.

Are you afraid of projects that come with specific technical challenges?
“Don’t do water, don’t do animals…” There are all these “don’ts” that you know as a producer, and all of them were packed into Breaking Surface [laughs]. Luckily, we are on a different level in Europe now, and we can finally do these things. Now, I am working on another project that has a very specific tone – it feels like an Adam McKay movie. That’s also very challenging because we haven’t really done that in Sweden, but that’s also what makes this job so exciting. I haven’t been bored in a very long time!

Are you going to be focusing on The Swedish Connection [by Thérèse Ahlbeck and Marcus A Olsson] at Cannes?
Yes. We are still looking for additional financing. It’s so unique and funny. I can’t do horror, and I hate crime, which is a problem when you are based in Sweden [laughs]. At Producers on the Move, they asked us which movie we wish we had produced. I said I, Tonya because I love films that break the fourth wall and that make you realise that reality often surpasses fiction. I believe that you have to fall in love with every project. You have to go: “Oh yes. That one.” Especially considering that your day only has 24 hours in it. For me, it’s a serious issue: I have way too many friends in the industry who have burnt out.

It’s great that you are talking about it. There is this pressure to always repeat how busy everyone is and how many projects they are juggling.
It’s not healthy, and I’ve made it a policy during our productions, too. We keep normal working hours. It’s important to me that the crew doesn’t burn out, but I also have to make sure I am following my own example. As producers, we carry all of these responsibilities. We have to take care of ourselves and our mental health because nobody else will.

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