“Il mercato è in continua evoluzione e ogni film è una nuova sfida”
Rapporto industria: Produrre - Coprodurre...
Juraj Krasnohorský • Produttore, Artichoke
Il Producer on the Move slovacco parla di mercato, IA e piattaforme di streaming, oltre al suo ultimo lavoro, un cortometraggio selezionato al Cinef di Cannes
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We sat down with Bratislava-based film producer Juraj Krasnohorský, founder of Artichoke and renowned for works like Superbia and Tigers in the City. Krasnohorský is behind the recently Berlinale-premiered White Plastic Sky [+leggi anche:
scheda film] and the upcoming Of Unwanted Things and People (read the news). We discussed the constantly changing market, the emergence of AI, streaming platforms, and his latest project Electra which was picked for Cannes. He has been selected as a participant for this year's edition of European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move programme.
Cineuropa: You've worked on a wide range of projects, from live-action to animation and documentary films. How do you approach each project differently, and what unique challenges do each of these mediums present?
Juraj Krasnohorský: Recently I produced the animated film White Plastic Sky, a co-production with Hungary, which premiered at the Berlinale and will be in the official selection at Annecy. I also co-produced the short-animated film Electra by Oscar nominee and student Oscar winner Daria Kashcheeva, which is in the official selection at Cannes. On posters for both of these films, you'll see actors, and both premiered alongside feature films.
Festivals and audiences seem to recognise that the lines between fiction and animated films are blurred. And that's exactly how we see it at Artichoke: animation is a means to tell a story. The distinguishing feature of animated film is perhaps the choice of technique and the fact that it takes longer to make. But the story comes first, and then comes the audience. Whether it's a fiction film, animation, or documentary, we try to reach a wide European audience.
Your educational background is in physics, mathematics, and film. How do you think your diverse background has influenced your approach to film production and storytelling?
I think what led me to study science and work in science before moving into film, where I also directed first and only then started producing, is curiosity. What I like about being a producer is that I never stop learning and discovering new things. There is no other way, because the market is constantly changing and every film is a new challenge.
With films like White Plastic Sky, and now the Cannes-selected Electra, you've been able to create ambitious, thought-provoking projects that have resonated internationally. What do you think are the key elements to creating a successful film that can connect with audiences around the world?
I have had the unique opportunity to study and live in several countries, which has given me a rich cultural experience and I have learned several languages. I try to translate this experience into the films we make at Artichoke.
With each film, I imagine showing it to an audience made up of actual people I know, from the countries I have had the opportunity to live in. In this way, I hope our films can appeal to an international audience.
The other key element for me is that I try to choose projects that resonate with me and talent that I find exciting to work with. And then, I trust the process. I trust that everyone involved in the project has the same desire to make a film that will resonate with audiences.
As an EAVE alumnus and head of studies of the CEE Animation Workshop, how do you see the future of animation in Central Europe, and what do you think are the most critical skills and knowledge for the next generation of filmmakers to develop?
I believe that we are in the golden age of European animation. Ambitious, adult animated films in particular seem to be on the rise, we see more and more projects in the workshop and festivals every year. In the six years that the CEE Animation Workshop has been helping producers develop projects and acquire new skills, we have seen tremendous progress both in the quality of projects and in the skills of producers from Central and Eastern Europe. It seems that the most important skill today is the ability to co-develop from the beginning, making it easier to co-produce. But the next generation in animation, in my opinion, will have a different challenge, and that will be artificial intelligence.
You've mentioned that Slovak animators have a knack for finding ingenious solutions with smaller teams. Can you share an example of a particularly creative solution that has emerged from one of your projects?
We collaborated with Bratislava-based studio Blue Faces on the film The Siren [+leggi anche:
scheda film], which will be in the official selection in Annecy. The film was animated in Blender and we started running out of time. Producer Sébastien Onomo asked me if I could help, but we couldn't find the number of animators we needed.
Instead, we came up with the idea of using real actors and motion capture technology, which allowed some of the animation to be done much faster and with a much smaller team. That's not always suitable, but here it was the right idea. Director Sépideh Farsi was also excited because she came from a live-action background and we gave her real actors to direct. We're now using the same technology on three other projects, as it has proven to be very versatile and efficient.
In the era of streaming platforms and new distribution models, how do you see the future of independent films, especially animated ones?
As for streaming platforms, we agree among my colleagues that the time when many projects were commissioned is pretty much over. Also, the experience of auteurs coming from independent cinema has been mildly disappointing, in terms of low visibility on the platforms when the projects were completed.
So I think that independent cinema will continue to find its audience mainly at festivals, followed by theatrical distribution, and only then by VODs and TV. That seems to be working quite well for a number of arthouse animated films in theatres lately. One of last year’s Annecy winners, No Dogs or Italians Allowed [+leggi anche:
intervista: Alain Ughetto
scheda film], is approaching 200,000 admissions in France.
On the other hand, the big question for animated films is how AI can be used by independent filmmakers. That's the big discussion I am hearing more and more, and it may also be important in terms of sustainability.
What producing endeavours are you pursuing now?
I have many animation projects in various stages and they are all very exciting. We'll be shooting a stop-motion film this summer, we have received funding from Creative Europe for the ambitious development of an animated film for children, and I also have projects underway with VR and a European series, which is a new territory for me.
But to change the subject from animation, I am currently focusing on a very ambitious feature drama written and directed by Slovak talent but shot in English with a strong international cast. The film is called The Fall and is to be directed by Juraj Lehotský. I am looking forward to bringing it to Cannes, thanks to Producers on the Move, and looking for partners.
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