Fabian Massah • Producer
“We were always interested in cinema from all over the world”
- We talked to German company Endorphine Production’s Fabian Massah, invited to Cannes Film Festival as one of EFP’s 2018 Producers on the Move
Fabian Massah and director Marc Malze co-funded Endorphine Production in 2004. The company now has offices in Berlin and Munich and many high-profile international titles on its track record, including the multi-awarded Istanbul-set Men on The Bridge [+see also:
interview: Asli Özge
film profile] (selected at Locarno and Toronto in 2009), the Euro-Moroccan coproduction Atlantic. [+see also:
interview: Jan-Willem van Ewijk
film profile] (Toronto 2014), and Oblivion Verses [+see also:
interview: Alireza Khatami
film profile] (awarded at Venice 2017). It is now preparing the Summer release of Johannes Schaff's Symphony of Now, a documentary on the Berlin electronic music scene. Massah is a member of the board of the German Film Producers Association. He has been invited to the 71st Cannes Film Festival as one of the European Film Promotion's Producers on the Move for 2018.
Cineuropa: What was the energy behind the creation of Endorphine?
Fabian Massah: When I felt the urge to channel my passion for film and storytelling into a profession, I gradually realised that the profession of producer had many facets which I found exciting: a special way of combining of creativity and business, the element of teamwork, the fact that it means being at the centre of the whole filmmaking process from idea to development to packaging, financing, producing, and finally marketing... So after graduating from the Berlin Film Academy dffb, where I produced several successful short films together with my fellow-student Marc Malze, establishing our own company, Endorphine Production, was a logical step. From the beginning, we have looked for engaging stories and working with dedicated filmmakers with an attractive cinematic language not matter the genre (films with epic cinematography or humour, thrillers...) or market it is destined to. The criterion is that our projects should be of the highest quality.
Endorphine has undertaken international co-productions from the start. Why that international approach?
We were always interested in cinema from all over the world and we wanted to think out of the box, not limit ourselves us to the German market, not only because we found it fascinating to work with colleagues from other countries, but also for the business idea behind it: on the one hand, financing might be more complex on an international level, but on the other hand, there are many more financial sources and in the end, the market is bigger. Of course, sometimes it makes more sense to produce at national level. We always strive to find the right balance for each project.
How would you describe your evolution as a producer since 2004? Do you learn something new with every new project?
Indeed, each film presents its own challenges and there is no limit to learning, not only about the business, which has been changing a lot, but also about the human character, including my own humble self. Of course, like everyone else, I also had to face difficult experiences – for instance working in close collaboration with people who were abusing their power and acting irresponsibly against the film‘s partnerships –, but you learn from them, so I don’t allow this to be demoralizing in any way. Maintaining relationships based on trust is most important to my work. And then there are all the great experiences of course: the excitement around the premieres of the films, screenings at the big festivals, the high energy when working with fantastic teams, inspiring and moving the audience... And you learn from that, too. All combined, I think I have evolved the most in terms of how I approach building strategies and partnerships.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Producers on the Move programme?
First of all, I am pleased that our work is receiving this beautiful attention and appreciation within the industry. I am also curious to meet with fellow-producers and get to know more about the projects they are currently working on, but I am also very interested in discussing and sharing thoughts about the current political and technological developments in film. Take the blockchain technology for example, which is likely to become a gamechanger in many respects – for example, it is bound to change the way we finance our projects and recoup on our investments. Basically, I look forward to expanding and strengthening my networks and partnerships, in order to have a solid ground to build our future projects on.
Can you tell us about your current and upcoming projects?
Based on our strategy, we are currently expanding our slate with projects which also speak to a wider audience. Amongst them are some feature film projects as well as documentaries, TV movies and series - some of them with the potential to become international co-productions as well. At Producers on the Move, I will present a culture clash comedy project that we are developing for a shoot in Germany, a story which deals with prejudices between different social groups and is told with sharp humour. As we think this is appealing to the audiences of other countries too, I am curious to find out more about our co-production possibilities here in Cannes. Beyond that, Symphony of Now is coming up in the cinemas. It is a modern re-imagination of the silent film classic Berlin - Symphony of a Great City featuring a fantastic electronic music soundtrack composed by renowned artists from the world-famous Berlin music scene. NFP will release the film in Germany mid-July. It is also presented here in Cannes, at the Marché du Film.
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