Yll Uka • Producer, Ikonë-Studio
“We just have to get used to the new reality"
- Kosovar producer Yll Uka has been selected as one of the 2020 Producers on the Move by European Film Promotion, and talks to us about it
Kosovar producer Yll Uka co-founded the Pristina-based production and film rental company Ikonë Studio nine years ago, having a special focus on young filmmakers of the region. He has been now selected as one of the 2020 Producers on the Move by European Film Promotion, that is organised online.
Cineuropa: Could you give us an overview of your company?
Yll Uka: Ikonë-Studio was founded in 2011 and its purpose is the further development of film and video productions in Kosovo, as the company is focused on young filmmakers and international co-productions. Also, we are the largest film rental company of the region with the newest equipment and professional crew. Some of our recent films include the Sundance-premiered Exile [+see also:
interview: Visar Morina
film profile] by Visar Morina that was also screened in Berlin, Fatos Berisha’s feature The Flying Circus [+see also:
interview: Fatos Berisha
interview: Fatos Berisha
film profile] which competed in Tallinn Black Nights last year, and Cold November [+see also:
interview: Ismet Sijarina
film profile] by Ismet Sijarina which was featured in San Sebastian’s New Directors.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
We are currently working on Blerta Basholli’s debut feature film Hive, which is now in sound editing stage, and next month we are moving to Switzerland to wrap the rest of the post-production. Furthermore, we have Fisnik Maxhuni’s debut fiction film The Land Within Me, in co-production with Switzerland, France, and Bulgaria, that originally we were aiming to start shooting by the end of the year, but possibly we must postpone it until next spring due to the current situation.
What are the challenges that you faced as a producer and how has been the collaboration with your teams? What was the hardest problem you faced?
I think the key is to collaborate with the right crew, and basically to have the best possible script and director. If you can achieve all these, then everything else is getting far easier and of course success won’t be missed. Since we are always co-producing with other countries, and we have to work with many teams from various countries, and with different cultural background, it’s always a challenge but this is also the beauty of international co-productions. I think that the hardest problem on set was when two colleagues from the same department couldn’t get along with each other and didn’t want to collaborate, but since they are on the team from the very beginning, no one could be fired.
How is your experience working in Kosovo and what are the advantages and disadvantages of your national industry?
I think as a nation we have interesting stories that need to be told, and we have been through a lot of difficult times, not just the 1999 war but even before and after that, which is really inspiring for the writers. For production in Kosovo, we have a great support both from both locals and the government, great locations and hardworking industry professionals that might lack some experience but are very enthusiastic. The biggest disadvantage lays on political decisions, as culture still needs more support and the budget of the Kosovo Center of Cinematography should be increased. Kosovo is not yet a member of Eurimages, and other institutions, and that makes it hard for us to co-produce with some countries in Europe.
How did the COVID19 affect you and what are your expectations for the future in the post-pandemic era?
Due to the pandemic, two of our films couldn’t be released in cinemas, and to be honest we don’t even know when they will have their release. Even if things ease during summertime, no one can plan anything for winter. The open-air cinemas could be an option in the following months but still the audience is afraid. Also, for our upcoming film Hive the situation has heavily affected its festival and distribution strategy, with most of the festivals being postponed or cancelled. I am afraid that the post-pandemic era will still negatively affect our industry and it will take some years to overcome, but I hope I am wrong on this one.
This year’s edition of Producers on the Move is completely digitally, what do you expect from the programme and is the program still a chance for you?
With Producers on the Move going digitally, it doesn’t feel the same as it might be in Cannes, but I’m still overly excited and I think this is a great chance for me and all the other participants. I already checked the programme and I had a meeting with the EFP managers, and I must say that they are doing a great job preparing this online edition. I really appreciate their hard work on making this happen. As it looks, this is the new reality, and we just have to get used to it.
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