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“We are facing something that has never been seen before and can’t rely on previous experiences“

Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...

Flavia Zanon • Producer, Close Up Films

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Producer Flavia Zanon, of Swiss company Close Up Films, one of EFP’s 2020 Producers on the Move, discusses her work experience and the industry’s current situation

Flavia Zanon  • Producer, Close Up Films

Producer Flavia Zanon, of Swiss company Close Up Films, selected as one of EFP (European Film Promotion)’s 2020 Producers on the Move, discusses her work experience and the industry’s current situation.

European Film Promotion: Corona is a real challenge for the whole film industry. What does it means to you?
Flavia Zanon:
It means accepting that there is very little I can control and concentrating on what can actually be achieved, on a day-to-day basis. I am currently trying to shoot a feature film this summer and the types of questions I must ask myself are quite mind-staggering. Will the borders be opened? Will insurance accept to cover us? Can I ask a whole crew to stay quarantined for 9 weeks? How will I find the extra money to pay for said quarantine? Can I get a wholesale price on 8,000 face masks? Should the entire script be rewritten to fit regulations? Will these regulations be approved by the state in time for me to launch preparation? Will the film still resemble the film we envisioned? As I said, the domino effect is staggering…

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Indeed, this year’s edition of Producers on the Move will be completely digital without any personal contact. What do you expect from the programme? Is it still a chance for you?
I feel that today, maybe more than ever, it is important for us producers to talk to each other. We are facing something that has never been seen before and can’t rely on previous experiences. So let’s all get together and brainstorm for a week. Yes, we’ll probably have a lot stupid and unpractical ideas… but if one person comes up with one concrete thing that can be done to make things a little more manageable, it’ll be a small victory.

Do you take part in the creative/artistic aspects of the film's creation?
I love the development phase. Witnessing the evolution of a project, stage by stage, giving input, sharing ideas… It is extremely fulfilling! If I’m expected to fight tooth and nails for a project to be made, I need to feel involved.

What was the hardest problem you had to solve as a producer?
Bearing in mind the current situation, I miss the days when the weather was the main contingency we had to deal with…

What do you think are the specificities of the industry in your country?
I come from Switzerland, a tiny country where we speak four languages. This in itself is a challenge for the local film market, which is fragmented. We rely almost exclusively on public funding in order to finance our films. It has its pros and cons, but I think that, so far, the system has shown that it is reliable, transparent and consistent.

What projects are in your near future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ve recently started development on a feature film project, Tanzanite by Kantarama Gahigiri. The film is coproduced by the South-African company Urucu Media and will be shot in Kenya, which is an exciting new challenge for me.

I’m also developing Pauline Jeanbourquin’s first documentary feature, The Gift. Shot over a period of 5 years, the film will follow Aaliyah, an ordinary teenage girl living in the Swiss countryside. On the eve of her fifteenth birthday her great-grandfather announces that he has chosen her as his one heir. She will receive the “secret”, an ancient healing gift…

As for where I see myself in 10 years… I hope I’ll be on a film set, worrying about the weather.

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