Peter Badač • Producer
“Nobody has a licence for success”
- Cineuropa met up with Slovak producer Peter Badač, selected for the Producers on the Move initiative, to talk about his projects and his domestic production environment
Peter Badač is a producer of animated and fiction films, both shorts and features. He is the founder of the production outfit BFilm, with which he produced Tereza Nvotová’s Filthy [+see also:
interview: Tereza Nvotová
film profile] and co-produced Jan Speckenbach’s Freedom [+see also:
interview: Jan Speckenbach
film profile], among others. He is a member of the Slovak Film and Television Academy and the artistic director of the annual showcase of Czech films, Finále Plzeň. Cineuropa sat down with him to talk about his recent success, the rise of Slovak productions, and his latest projects and expectations for European Film Promotion’s 2018 Producers on the Move initiative at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.
Cineuropa: What impact did the success of Filthy have on your work?
Peter Badač: I had been working on Filthy since 2013, and with the scriptwriter and director for a bit longer. The realisation was not easy and we met with a lot of misunderstandings like how the projects was judged based on the language of the main characters or the alleged untrustworthiness of scenes in the psychiatric ward or the rape itself, instead of discussing the real topic. Ultimately, we finished the project and celebrated the world premiere in 2017 in Rotterdam. Even though we did not do it for the success, we are happy we made a strong film that is attractive to audiences at home and abroad, which is also proven by the accolades that the film has won. We will see whether anything has changed as we try to secure finances for my or Tereza’s new projects, or whether we will have to defend every little detail of a script because somebody considers it unbelievable or crazy.
Filthy was the most-seen arthouse film at home, and domestic production reached the top of the box office in 2017. How do you see this phenomenon?
The production cycle of a film takes several years, and Filthy was no exception. I believe that 2017 was so successful because of the continual work of the people at the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, which has been supporting domestic films since 2009, and also those at Radio and Television Slovakia, where they started to put more trust in Slovakian filmmakers with the arrival of Václav Mika’s [former general manager of television] management and invested in them. The synergy effects of fund and television are reflected in the amount and variety of films that were released. The important fact, also in the case of Filthy, was the creative work that went into the distribution concept. A lot of producers underestimate this aspect, while for me quite on the contrary, it is a period when we can try out new ideas. Even if some filmmakers do not like to hear it, film is a product like anything else, and if a viewer does not know about its existence, he will never see it.
Your portfolio is rather wide-ranging. How do you choose your projects?
I started out with animated shorts and even though we are now developing several formats for television and cinema, I do not give up on them. We are shooting a short puppet film directed by Martin Smatana and we will present the animated film The End at the pitching forum MIFA in Annecy. When I am selecting projects, three things are crucial: a topic that interests me and has a potential to interest the audience as well. No less important is the enthusiasm with which the topic is tackled and last but not least it is the filmmaker himself or herself. I cannot imagine to work with somebody I am not close to on a human level because continuous stress does not lead to anything good.
What are the biggest obstacles you face as a producer?
Surely the lack of good projects that would be worth spending several years with. We have relatively established forms of financing films and many filmmakers think it is easy to make a film. We are frequently witnessing the creation of films that nobody is interest in. The second is to persuade everybody of the quality of new projects. Nobody has a license for success that’s why I think it is important during the development of each project to persuade funds, television, forums and festival programmers that our project is the best and will meet the expectations.
One of your upcoming projects for a book adaptation is Virgin in the Underground. How did you manage to land a French co-producer?
I met the director Viliam Vadnal at the Berlinale and he approached me with this idea. Even though it might look difficult it was pretty easy. He studied in France and had already established connections so the road to the French co-producer was already paved and easier than expected. It is an adaptation of several books by Slovakian author Viliam Klimáček. With the French co-producer we expect to make a unique film, as unique as Klimáček’s books but also understandable for audiences outside Slovakia.
What are your expectations for Producers on the Move?
I was happy to find on the list of selected producers for this prestigious initiative colleagues from Slovenia, Lithuania and The Netherlands with whom we have already worked together. I am looking forward to meet them again as well as meeting new colleagues I heard a lot about. I expect it to widen our perspective on the subject of European collaboration, and that it opens new doors which I as Slovakian producer could not manage to do so easily and to make new contacts. Since European Film Promotion has lots of experiences with this project, I believe the program will be tailored for the needs of producers from countries with a big production output as well as for ours from smaller European markets.
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