Jessie Fisk • Producer, Feline Films
“You have to keep the flame of the project alive and fight for it in the most challenging of circumstances”
- The Irish producer, selected as one of this year’s Producers on the Move, shared some thoughts about her job and how the market has changed over the last two years
We spoke to Jessie Fisk, producer at Irish outfit Feline Films. This year, Fisk was selected as one of the participants of European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move initiative. During our interview, she spoke about her career, the advantages of producing in Ireland, its emerging film scene as well as how her job has changed after two years of the pandemic. Recently, she also participated in our Co-Production Podcast about Nathalie Biancheri's Wolf (listen here).
Cineuropa: What pushed you to enter this industry?
Jessie Fisk: I think I always knew I would be in a creative industry, even from a young age. I went to film school in Galway when I was 17, quite clueless as to how anything worked but very curious and ambitious. I specialised in screenwriting but producing just always found its way to me. I suppose I followed a need to allow stories to be told. I can’t remember a time in my teenage years when I didn't have a job, so between a strong work ethic and naive ambition, I eventually became a producer.
What is the most challenging aspect of a producer's job? Which is the most rewarding?
I think the biggest challenge is how much of ourselves we have to give – over many years – to make a project happen. You have to keep the flame of the project alive and fight for it in the most challenging of circumstances. You do all of that with only the belief and hope it will reach an audience and live a long life, but of course it’s never guaranteed. For me, the most rewarding aspect is the network of people I have in my life. The community that making films has brought me has really helped me to grow, so I'm really grateful for my film family which is scattered all over the globe and continues to get bigger.
What are the main challenges and advantages of producing in Ireland? How would you judge the current state of its film scene?
I'm super privileged to be an Irish producer. We have a lot of funding and support available and an exciting talent pool beginning to emerge. It's always challenging to compete in a very busy industry and I think we can become quite reliant on state agencies who may not share the same vision as us on every single project. There's a very exciting pace for Irish film picking up at the moment with The Quiet Girl [+see also:
interview: Colm Bairéad
film profile] picking up a jury prize in Berlin and God’s Creatures premiering in Cannes this year. I’m bursting with pride to see strong Irish films have such a prestigious presence in Europe.
How do you think being one of the Producers on the Move will benefit your career?
It's already evident to me how passionate EFP are about the individual promotion of the participants with the press, offering us really wonderful opportunities. It gives a small independent producer a real leg-up to grab the attention of bigger partners you might struggle to tie down for a meeting otherwise. Beyond Cannes, probably the most valuable assets we come away with is each other – a strong European network which hopefully will grow into working relationships that result in really great films.
How has producing changed after two years of the pandemic? Any lessons you’d like to share?
The biggest change I have felt is the theatrical market. Audiences have not yet returned to the cinema after the pandemic and I can only hope that they will. In the meantime, I think it's important that we change how we measure our success for the films we make. I will continue to focus my slate on the theatrical market place but with an open mind about how else we reach audiences. I really hope our partners and backers also adjust the results they expect from a theatrical market and start to focus on audience reach and, above all, the quality of the work.
What are your next projects?
The project I am currently financing is This is the Country by Mark Noonan. Mark's first film You're Ugly Too [+see also:
interview: Mark Noonan
film profile] starred Aidan Gillen and premiered at the Berlinale in 2015. This is the Country is a coming of age romantic thriller based on a book by the same title by William Wall. I also have Nathalie Biancheri's next film in development and I'm working closely with Jane Doolan on the next project she has from Stephen Burke and Enrico Pau.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.