John Wallace • Producer, Cowtown Pictures
“I have learned the most from working with other producers”
- We chatted with the Irish producer John Wallace about his experiences and his expectations as an EFP Producer on the Move
We had the chance to speak with John Wallace, Ireland’s EFP 2020 Producer on the Move. Wallace works as a producer and is the co-managing director of Dublin-based outfit Cowtown Pictures. Over the last few years, he also co-produced Elfar Adalsteins’ End of Sentence [+see also:
film profile] and Viko Nikci’s Cellar Door [+see also:
film profile] with Samson Films, as well as several dramas, documentaries, and Kirsten Sheridan’s Dollhouse [+see also:
film profile] (2012), which world-premiered at the Berlinale that year. The EFP programme, which normally takes place at the Cannes Film Festival, will run independently this year owing to the coronavirus outbreak.
Cineuropa: How did you start your film career? What pushed you to enter this industry?
John Wallace: I started as a trainee assistant director when I got out of college. I still make a great cup of tea! Apart from a love of film, I just really enjoyed working in the industry. Being part of a production team with its highs and lows, just getting on with people in the industry.
What kind of production is the most challenging for you? What about the most rewarding one?
The most challenging is when there is an element that does not gel or a script issue that is not resolved before you shoot. These problems follow you the whole way through the shoot and post. The most rewarding is when you’re working on something that connects with an audience.
How do you think the current outbreak and its post-lockdown phase may change the producer’s job?
I don’t think the role of the producer will change – it is always going to be planning, communicating, problem solving and hustling. Companies that are nimble and have low overheads are in a better position to last this phase. How the audience consumes content is obviously changing and the lockdown will accelerate that.
What are the main challenges and advantages of producing in Ireland? How would you judge the current state of the Irish film scene?
The advantages are a good tax incentive, experienced cast and crews and a strong development agency in Screen Ireland. The biggest challenge is competing with other English language content from outside of Ireland, and for a share of the audience. I would say that the industry is quite healthy here and I feel very optimistic about it.
How do you think being one of the Producers on the Move will benefit your career?
It is nice to be part of that spotlight but the real value I think is the opportunity to make new friends with other producers in Europe. Share our experiences. I have learned the most from working with other producers.
What are your next projects?
At Cowtown, are planning to shoot Andrew Legge’s sci fi feature as soon as the lock down ends and there’s a couple of projects that are in the wings after that. We have two films coming out later this year, Peter Mackie Burns’ Rialto [+see also:
interview: Peter Mackie Burns
film profile], which premiered in Venice last year, and our feature documentary about Thin Lizzy front-man Phil Lynott, which is called Songs for While I’m Away.
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