2009 Producer on the Move - Estonia
by Annika Pham
Katrin Kissa has been working with talented Estonian filmmaker Veiko Õunpuu for the last eight years. His first feature-length film, Autumn Ball [+see also:
film profile], won the Horizon section of Venice 2007. Their new company, Homeless Bob Production, is behind Õunpuu’s new film, The Temptation of St Tony, a co-production with Sweden and Finland now in post-production.
Cineuropa: How did you get into film production?
Katrin Kissa: I just started one day - I don’t even know myself how it happened. It snuck up on me like SARS or like some other illness you can’t expect! Tell us about your company Homeless Bob. Why this name, and what kind of films do you produce?
Veiko and I have worked together for eight years already. We’ve had different forms of working relationships. We started working together as producers in a company but Veiko soon left to study painting. I stayed there for one more year, and then switched to another company, which Veiko also joined as a director. Soon enough, our first joint film was completed, the medium-length Empty, followed by a somewhat more substantial venture, Autumn Ball.
In the meantime, Veiko had registered a company called Homeless Bob, named after a homeless cat that came in through his window one day and stayed. For the first year, the company remained on Veiko’s windowsill, inactive, its presence only represented by a shoebox containing a few receipts. When we started making Autumn Ball in 2006, we decided that making films under other people’s companies lacked any deeper sense because the rights to a film should remain with its creators. From then on, Homeless Bob has offered shelter to those filmmakers who until then had been roaming around, homeless.
So far, Homeless Bob has specialized in auteur-driven films and unless life forces other choices upon us it will probably remain that way in the future as well. Veiko’s new film The Temptation of St. Tony will be completed any day now, and Rainer Sarnet’s Dostoevsky-based film The Idiot is in development. The production of one film takes so much time that I must really love it to be willing to spend years with it.
Estonia was just starting to build its film industry. Now budgets from all parts are being cut because of the world credit crunch. How do you keep going?
You have to think about other options. Producing a film doesn’t have to be rigid and expensive – there are other means. Time and customs have made it rigid, just like the “film industry” has become too important. When times are tough, better stories emerge. And when the stories are better then perhaps there isn’t so much need for dazzling the audience. I’m quite convinced that difficult times produce better films. I just hope that the economic situation doesn’t force real artists to devalue their aims and that filmmaking doesn’t just become a means of an income, where an excessive role is played by the producer and his own understanding of the market demand.
The Temptation of St Tony is an Estonian/Swedish/Finnish co-production. How was your experience on your first European co-production?
It’s pretty nice not to have to limit yourself within the borders of one country. In the best case scenario, a film isn’t made by people who speak the same language and are citizens of the same country, but rather by people who think alike, no matter what their nationality or citizenship is. A common language develops quickly if you have the same attitude towards things. In that way, a co-production is a pretty nice way to finance such cooperation.
How does it feel to be a Producer on the Move?
The fact itself that I’m participating in the program doesn’t excite me that much. But what’s exciting to me is that this could be the beginning of making The Idiot. I’m excited by the knowledge that if there are more random meetings in life then the chance of that one lucky meeting happening is that much greater. So my greatest expectation is a lucky coincidence.
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