Constanze Schumann • Allegro Film
by Bénédicte Prot
03/05/2012 - It has been only four years since Constanze Schumann graduated from the Vienna Film Academy and she is about to step on the Croisette as a 'Producer on the Move'. Having produced ten shorts and a feature-length documentary, Schumann took on her first fiction feature, the award-winning title Inside America, in 2010, and was immediately hired by the prominent Austrian outfit Allegro Film. While following her guts, Schumann is always mindful of the audience.
Cineuropa : What made you want to become a producer?
CS: It was a process. When I entered the film industry, I did not know I was going to become a producer, but I love stories and creating something with a team which will touch people, so this is the direction I took.
What did you learn from your first feature film, Barbara Eder's Inside America?
It was quite a challenge, not only because it was my first feature, with a first time director, but also because the whole movie was to be shot in the USA, where I did not know anybody and where we would likely find ourselves in difficult predicaments, like when our camera broke, in the middle of the desert. The project was my idea though. Barbara and I had already worked on a project and when she told me about her US experience as a student, I thought it should become a movie. So our very small Austrian team went there. After it was completed, the film immediately entered the festival circuit – it was screened in Toronto, Pusan – and I got to meet a lot of people from the industry.
How did Allegro Film approach you, and why did you choose to join this company?
Allegro approached me after the premiere of Inside America. Normally, producing debut features is a risk only established company can take, so they were impressed by what we had achieved. I accepted their offer because Allegro is one of the most successful companies in the country and produces interesting, challenging movies. As an in-house producer, I get to work on more projects than if I were on my own, and I am freer to dedicate myself to the best parts of the job not having to worry about managing a company on top of that. Joining Allegro was a great opportunity in every respect. What is great is that I get to work on my own projects within an established company (which produces around three movies a year).
How do you pick projects? What are you currently working on?
In the end, it is always a gut feeling. Then I ask myself if it is just me or if the audience would feel the same way, what is so special about the project, and if it is so special as to keep me going for four years. Allegro has been interested in genre films, which works for me – they make for great stories.
I am currently working on a project I brought, a documentary by Barbara Eder called Online Dating – How to Find a Date By Friday. I had to convince my boss on this one, as it is female-oriented. I am also developing an adaptation of Doris Knecht's novel Gruber Is Leaving by Marie Kreutzer, about a guy in his mid-30s who finds out he has cancer and meets someone unexpected. I like working on scripts since the beginning and go the whole way, rather than accepting finished screenplays.
What do you hope to achieve in Cannes?
I hope to do a lot of networking. We have co-produced with France and the UK, and next year, we are making a big western with German coproducers, but Allegro is currently looking for Scandinavian partners – we have projects in development which could work as Nordic coproductions. While certain films are only for Austria (although the local thriller Dead In 3 Days ended up selling in about 40 territories!), some topics call for coproducers – but this decision has to depend on the topic: I am not interested in big patchwork co-productions involving a host of countries. In Cannes, besides meeting other producers, I also look forward to learning more about financing all over Europe.
Producers on the move is an initiative of the EUROPEAN FILM PROMOTION