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Diana Elbaum • Producer

"My job as a producer is to translate an artist’s work into a product that can be placed on the market"


- We met up with the Belgian producer Diana Elbaum, who embarked on a new adventure by founding Beluga Tree last year

Diana Elbaum  • Producer

Last October, after leaving Entre Chien et Loup, the company she created almost 30 years ago, Diana Elbaum embarked on a new adventure by founding Beluga Tree, a film production company. A year later, we met up with the dynamic Belgian producer, to take stock of this new beginning.

Cineuropa: How did you come up with Beluga Tree, your new company?
Diana Elbaum:
I started the company a year ago with the extremely active partners, Caviar. We thought a lot about the type of productions we wanted to get on board with. When it came to founding the new company, I had to ask some very broad questions about the market. I've wanted to focus on content that’s not necessarily natural to me for a long time, such as children's shows or documentaries. But in talking with my associates, I realised that it was useless to try to do everything on my own. So I founded a sister company, Beluga Jungle, managed by Manuela Rutten, who has experience in those fields. Beluga Tree aims to look for talented producers to identify talented directors, in all areas.

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What is the biggest challenge when creating a new company, in your experience?
The biggest challenge would be... to do better! The directors came fairly easily thanks to my experience, and Beluga Tree established itself very quickly after Entre chien et loup. The idea is to help directors and talented individuals travel from one form of media to another, from one concept to another. It’s a challenge for filmmakers, but also a way to give them work, to keep them busy between two large feature-length projects.

You have a fantastic line-up, to say the least, after just one year in the business.
We are currently shooting Adorables, Solange Cicurel's second feature (read the news here), and then we'll shoot Horse Boy, Ari Folman's first live action film next February, a project that I started a long time ago with Ari, on whom we are in co-delegated production with Full House in France. We are also writing two television series, one in collaboration with RTBF, and an Israeli series shot in Brussels, designed for the international market. We're also going to be co-producing a lot, and are currently filming Pascal Bonitzer's new film, as well as Ira Sachs's new film. So we have three films being filmed after just one year in the business! We’re also hoping to co-produce Molly by Sally Potter, and our junior producer, Anne Berger, has just worked as a production assistant on the actress Babetida Sadjo's first short film. We want to depart from our usual co-productions with France and work with Italy and Spain. Michale Boganim’s latest film (Odessa Odessa, Land of Oblivion [+see also:
film profile
), Borough Park will be co-produced at the end of 2019.

Two years ago, you created Boost Camp, a booster workshop for women's films, why?
The idea was more to boost the women who make the films. I think that, as a director, you need to have some knowledge of the market, and directors are often removed from it. It’s far from an artist’s main priorities, I agree, but when you do cinema, you also need to get stuck in with the film's production, to get involved. So we try to give them analytical tools, so that they can translate what the market is telling them. It's important, even when writing the screenplay. Although I personally consider my job as a producer to be about translating an artist’s work into a product that can be placed on the market, it is always great for filmmakers to have a global vision.

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(Translated from French)

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