Producer on the move 2009 - Austria
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The 2009 Austrian Producer on the Move, Alexander Glehr of Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion, shares his Austrian experience and border-less European aspirations with an enthusiasm unaltered by his realistic approach.
Cineuropa: How did your career start?
Alexander Glehr: Coming from a small, theatre-less town in southern Austria my interest in media and art was hard to satisfy, but at 19 I eventually enrolled in the Vienna Film Academy, where I got to produce several shorts. My first job in the industry was assistant location manager for an Austrian TV series starring a German shepherd, after which I spent two years doing camera and editing work.
In 2002, I produced the short film Airsquare by Marcus J. Carney, a satire on airline safety instructions that was exceptionally successful at international festivals and earned me awards in Miami and Vienna. This was a turning point in my career. Before shooting, everybody told me that I would never manage to get this film done, and after it was finished everybody wanted me to work with them. I then produced several commercials and documentary films and worked on a Bulgarian/Austrian co-production.
How did you join Novotny & Novotny? What is the company’s philosophy?
In 2006, upon coming back to Vienna after a year spent studying at the Atelier Ludwigsburg in Paris, I met the well-known Austrian director and producer Franz Novotny, who was searching for an executive producer for his company’s feature film department. I have been working there since December 2006.
Karin and Franz Novotny founded their company in 1995, with an initial focus on high-profile commercials. Now, the company has two departments, and Novotny & Novotny Filmproduction has become famous for producing debuts by new talents (such as Barbara Albert, Eva Urthaler and, more recently Marco Antoniazzi, director of Small Fish) as well as T -series and international feature films (Pjer Zalica's Fuse, Rajko Grlic's Border Post [+leggi anche:
scheda film], Peter Kern's Initiation and Claudio Camarca's L´Amor Cortese).
What attracts you to a project?
Naturally, the script is a key element, but what counts most is with whom I will be working. I find it necessary that my relationship with the main crew members allow us to really create a project together, instead of my being a mere “executive”.
How would you describe the production situation in Austria? What challenges is it facing?
Austria has a strong cultural identity and prides itself on its musicians and writers, but before The Counterfeiters [+leggi anche:
scheda film] won the Oscar, no one amongst the decision-makers thought film was an important domain, despite the international success of filmmakers like Albert, Ulrich Seidl, Michael Glawogger, Hubert Sauper or Michael Haneke.
Since the 2008 win and the 2009 nomination, suddenly cinema has become a state affair. Financing institutions have immediately had their budgets raised and now everybody is expecting Oscars and Palme d’Ors. The local film industry has managed to create strong demand for Austrian films. Unfortunately, our public broadcaster is going through its biggest economic crisis ever and wants to withdraw all investment in feature films, so now one of the main financers in Austria is missing. I think you can call this a real challenge.
You have worked on a French film. Do you have European prospects? Do you enjoy trans-national collaborations?
It is not a question of enjoying it. For me, the biggest problem of the European film industry is that you still have to respect national borders, spend the money where you got it hence pick actors and crew according to their nationality. Sometimes, you have to refuse a script because it does not comply with the national interest criterion enough to ever get public funding.
Certain movies require trans-national collaborations, but too often the question is not with whom you really would like to co-produce, but who gives you access to which financing. The challenge is to find partners with whom you can produce an actual movie, not a multilateral compromise. I would prefer not to have to think about which country my partners are from. I aspire to be able to call myself a European producer.
What are your next projects?
We are co-producing (with Germany) Oskar Roehler's new film, Jew Suess!: Sympathy for the Devil, starring Tobias Moretti, Martina Gedeck and Moritz Bleibtreu. Shooting will take place in July and August 2009 in Vienna, North Rhine Westphalia, Bavaria and Venice. We are also working on the thriller Class Reunion by Ulrike Schweiger, intended mainly for the local market, and the youth drama Caretta, Caretta by Peter Payer, a classic European arthouse title.
What do you expect from Producers on the Move?
It is very relevant initiative in the context of the ongoing fusion of the different national markets into one European market. I look forward to meeting colleagues from other parts of Europe, sharing experiences, learning about their strategies and projects, and reflecting upon my own work. This event will give me a chance to enlarge my network. I may find a partner for my next project; I may meet a partner for a movie I will produce in 18 years.
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