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Darko Popov • Pank Films

Producers on the Move 2011 - Macedonia

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- Macedonian producer Darko Popov has recently finished the production of Slovenian director Andrej Košak's State of Shock and is now developing two new projects.

Darko Popov • Pank Films

Two years ago, Macedonian producer Darko Popov co-founded the production company Pank Film with director Vladimir Blaževski to make Punk's Not Dead, which received its world premiere at Karlovy Vary this year, where it won the best film award in the East of the West section. Recently Popov finished the production of Slovenian director Andrej Košak's State of Shock and is developing two new projects.

Cineuropa: Can you tell us something about the production, distribution in Macedonia and festival exposure of Punk's Not Dead.
Darko Popov: With a budget of only around €330,000 (some €250,000 came from Macedonia, and €80,000 from Serbia), the production of the film, particularly the principal photography, was very difficult. On the other hand, I am very proud of what we managed to achieve. The crew and stars knew even during preparations that the circumstances would not be normal and worked practically for free, but everybody did their best. But I have to say I'm never going to go into production with such a small budget again.

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Besides the four cinemas in Skopje, in which during six weeks we had some 10,000 spectators, we distributed the film in other cities that don't have regular cinemas, in their ’houses of culture’ [multi-purpose venues left over from the Yugoslav period]. And incredibly, given the huge piracy problem in Macedonia, there are still no pirated copies of the film.

After Karlovy Vary the film was invited to many festivals, including Motovun, Palic, Raindance, Cottbus, Pristina, Calcutta, Thessaloniki...

State of Shock is a co-production between Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Macedonia. What do you think about the increasing number of co-productions between the countries of the former Yugoslavia?
It's only natural and logical. Not only that we have a common past, our present is also very similar. But it's very important for a film to be liked by the audiences - if it's good, it doesn't matter if it's Macedonian, Serbian, Slovenian or a co-production of all these countries. If it's good, Eskimos will like it too.

How hard it is to acquire budgets from pan-European funds? Macedonia is a member of Eurimages, but not of MEDIA. How useful are events and markets such as Sarajevo's CineLink?
I think that older producers find it difficult to navigate through the bureaucracy of pan-Europan funds. And it's not easy for young producers either, because they're coming from a small and unattractive market. Both Eurimages and MEDIA are very useful, but they are the final link in the financing chain – first, you have to get finance from your own country to be eligible for these funds. CineLink, EAVE, Power to the Pixel, Torino Film Lab, these are all good options to get a normal, constructive critique of your script, or advice on how to develop your project further and, of course, to meet new people, and then anything is possible.

What are your upcoming projects?
I'm currently working on two – one is the fiction feature The Nameless, which we're developing at EAVE. It's a story about a professor in a juvenile deliquents centre who organises the children into a small army to carry out his own personal revenge. The other project is a documentary called Funeral & Wedding Orchestra about a funeral orchestra from a small Macedonian town that is forced to play at weddings because the church there forbid them to play at funerals.

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