Alicja Grawon-Jaksik • Producer, MTL Max Film
“I believe we can work on projects that have more commercial appeal on an international level and attract bigger audiences to cinemas”
by Ola Salwa
- We had a chinwag with the producer, recently appointed vice-president of the established Polish production house, which for the past 30 years has mainly produced romantic comedies
Cineuropa chatted to producer Alicja Grawon-Jaksik, who recently joined established production house MTL Max Film, which for the past 30 years has mainly produced romantic comedies. With Grawon-Jaksik on board as vice-president (her credits so far include Lamb [+see also:
interview: Valdimar Jóhannsson
film profile] and Tarapaty 2, and she also works as a production and finance consultant), the company plans to expand its portfolio in the near future.
Cineuropa: After your stint as president of the Polish Producers Alliance came to an end, you joined MTL Max Film as vice-president. It’s a company with 30 years’ experience, but with a very commercial profile, and so far, you have worked on more arthouse projects.
Alicja Grawon-Jaksik: That’s why I accepted this job offer. The offer came along, and it seemed interesting to me that the company wanted to change and branch off into new territories where it hadn’t yet had a presence. It’s not that MTL Max Film is changing its company profile; commercial productions will be always in its DNA. It is expanding its team so that they can emerge from the bubble they had been functioning in. They are observing the market and seeing what is happening, also when it comes to finance, so it’s a pragmatic and practical decision. MTL wants to get involved in projects that have a commercial angle, but which can also be considered auteur work, in order to be able to apply for subsidies from the Polish Film Institute, like everyone else, which they haven’t done yet. They also want to work with streamers. It’s purely a business decision, and I think it’s a wise one. It’s one of the elements that impressed me the most when I got a call with the job offer. They see that the industry is changing, and they want to move forward. They feel at home with commercial productions, and that won’t change, but now it’s necessary to do different things and diversify the risk.
In a press release, it was stated that you will be responsible for international co-productions. What kind of projects will you be looking for? Commercial ones that fit the current company profile?
Not necessarily. I think the most natural step – which also stems from who I am, what kind of experience I have and what type of cooperation I have been involved in – is more auteur cinema, including the type that has more commercial potential. I think it will be the first step when we are talking about international co-productions. I don’t think we will be doing film services, but we’re not ruling it out. However, it definitely won’t be a big co-production with the “Anglo-Saxon” industry, because we need to learn how to do it. Currently, the company wants to do research into the European market, and above all, strengthen the MTL Max Film image and brand so that the company will show up on the map of Polish partners. The outfit has worked with partners from Germany, but that was years ago.
The firm has many years of experience in the Polish market. What kind of assets does it have?
They’re connected with the resources that the company has, like a sound studio, editing studio and sound stages. It’s a strong company, so it doesn’t have problems with cash flow or other things, like many small production houses have. They are thinking about investing in scripts, networking and building a professional relationship, so that it will bear fruit in five years’ time.
Have you brought any projects with you to the company?
Yes, but during the coming months, I want to focus on looking for projects. I want to go to a few markets, introduce the company and say that it wants to get involved in co-productions, big or small. But we want to start doing them because, so far, MTL hasn’t been on the map. Meanwhile, the company is doing business as usual, adding three more types of productions: international projects; more auteur-driven projects, which are connected with public funds; and working with platforms. It requires time. We won’t start shooting a big production in a month’s time. I joined the company to look for projects and to think about which partners we want to work with. I like MTL’s long-term thinking, and I think it’s very smart, especially right now.
You mentioned MTL’s assets. But what are the advantages of the Polish film industry, in your view?
It’s far from original, but I would say the talents – writers and directors. Also, competent producers who are credible. Another of Poland’s assets is the size of its market, meaning that the streamers want to work with us, and we have many subscribers whom the content is made for. We also have theatrical potential. I know that we are in turmoil when it comes to attendance levels for local films, but it’s like that everywhere in Europe. We are still doing better than other countries from our region when it comes to attendance. I believe that, at some point, we can work on projects that have more commercial appeal on an international level and attract bigger audiences to cinemas. I hope that by building new relationships and nurturing new ones, we will succeed.
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