Julius Ponten • Producer
“We should develop an attitude to conquer the world”
by Vitor Pinto
- Cineuropa met up with Dutch producer Julius Ponten, who will take part in the 2017 edition of EFP’s Producers on the Move
In the business for nearly 15 years, producer Julius Ponten became one of the founders of New Amsterdam Film Company, whose new projects include Jim Taihuttu's The East and Rene Eller’s We. Ponten is at Cannes to take part in the 2017 edition of EFP’s networking event Producers on the Move.
Cineuropa: How did you get into film production in the first place?
Julius Ponten: I got into film around 14 years ago, when I realised that film was a great way to tell stories and bring certain issues to an audience. At the time, I was organising a lot of parties and other cultural events, but I realised that a great film could bring a story to a bigger audience. When I met Jim Taihuttu and some other guys who were studying film, I started producing their short films. So I never went to film school, but just learned it through making those films and working on other film sets. In 2010, we shot our first feature film, Rabat [+see also:
film profile], and from that moment on, we started to try to earn money with the production of the films as well as the release.
In 2016, you became one of the founders of New Amsterdam. What is the profile of this new company?
We are an independent entertainment media company that operates like a film studio. Within New Amsterdam Film Company, we collaborate with talent from all over the world to develop, finance, produce and release high-end visual narratives on all platforms. On the one hand, we create original feature-length content, and on the other, we work with advertising agencies and directly for brands.
You have previously partnered up with director Jim Taihuttu on Rabat and Wolf [+see also:
interview: Marwan Kenzari
film profile]. What attracts you so much to his work that it made you renew that partnership for his new war-film project, The East?
Jim’s drive, ideas and energy are on a special level. We have been working together for 14 years now. On the first short film I ever produced, Jim was the DoP. We have run a business together since 2006. So we are not only connected as producer and director, but Jim is also a partner in the whole process. He is additionally a writer and a director, and is also a driving force behind the successful EDM act Yellow Claw and the music label Barong Family. As we started as a hybrid company in 2006 doing a lot of music videos and campaigns for different brands, we bring this experience and attitude to our film projects as well.
Can you tell us about The East? What is it about? Is it still at the financing stage? Are you looking for co-producers?
The East will be the first movie about the Indonesian Colonial War of Independence. The story is about a young Dutch soldier who comes to realise that he is fighting on the wrong side. It's a modern take on a dark chapter in Dutch and world history. The project is at the financing stage, and we are working with sales agent XYZ to close financing this year.
Another film on New Amsterdam’s line-up, We by Rene Eller, is currently in post-production. What is this one about, and when is it due for release?
We is a film about eight adolescent boys and girls, around 17 years old, who explore their boundaries. They explore what is possible within their group and within society. They play with emotions, experiences and values. It all starts off with innocent, almost idyllic, sex games during a long, hot summer, and ends with sexual exploitation, criminal mischief and teenage pimping. We are aiming at a strong festival release later this year.
What do you think are the challenges facing the Dutch film industry today?
I feel that we should develop an attitude to conquer the world. It's a small country and market, and so we should focus more on the world market. It takes a lot of money and energy to make a movie. As the audience is everywhere, it's a pity that we are not able to use this more often.
You have been chosen as one of EFP’s Producers on the Move. What does this mean to you and how will it be beneficial for you at Cannes?
My selection as a Producer on the Move proves to me that our films stand out and get noticed. But there is still a lot to do to be ready for the next steps. I think my selection will be beneficial because it’s a chance to push the company and myself forward.
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