“Change is always an opportunity for innovation”
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Beata Rzeźniczek • Producer, Madants
by Ola Salwa
The Polish Producer on the Move breaks down her career so far and discusses what she views as the future of filmmaking, post-pandemic
Production company Madants, founded by Beata Rzeźniczek and Klaudia Śmieja just a few years ago, is like a seal of quality. The duo of producers have worked with such high-profile directors as Claire Denis (High Life [+see also:
interview: Claire Denis
film profile]) and Agnieszka Holland (Charlatan [+see also:
interview: Agnieszka Holland
film profile]). Rzeźniczek, who graduated from the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School in Katowice, was picked for EFP’s 2021 Producers on the Move programme, but she is already well into a successful career. Other People (see the news), which she calls her producing debut, is one of the most highly anticipated Polish films of the season, and if industry rumours are to be believed, it will be worth the wait.
Cineuropa: In 2017, you were at Cannes presenting a short film that you produced – Best Fireworks Ever, directed by Aleksandra Terpińska. It competed in the Critics’ Week and won two awards. What has changed in your life since then?
Beata Rzeźniczek: That was my last trip to Cannes to date, and what has definitely changed is the fact that I have become a mother. It turned my life upside down and had an influence on my career, too. I still invest a lot in my work, I get involved 100%, but it requires more of a sacrifice from me, and I don’t take on as many projects as I used to.
One of the projects you are working on is the feature debut by Aleksandra Terpińska, Other People.
This film is almost as “old” as my daughter, if you can believe it! But on a more serious note: it’s an important project because it’s my debut as a producer. Before that, I was an executive producer or a minority co-producer. The film is in post-production, and we are gearing up for an autumn release, but because of COVID-19, the date of the premiere is constantly being renegotiated.
You produce your films through a company called Madants, which you co-created with Klaudia Śmieja, a Producer on the Move alumna from 2016.
Our company has changed as well, as there are now three of us, including Bogna Szewczyk. We share the projects, but we also share our duties and the work within a project, so that each of us works on what we do best. We have many films in development, including Silent Twins by Agnieszka Smoczyńska, but that’s more Klaudia and Bogna’s project. We’ve just received a grant from the Polish Film Institute for Babi Yar by Sergei Loznitsa – we will be a minority co-producer on it. But again, it’s more Klaudia’s project. My main focus now is Other People.
“Madants” is a curious name for a film production company. Where did it come from?
It’s a funny story, actually. Klaudia and I wanted to participate in a project that we liked a lot, Park [+see also:
interview: Sofia Exarchou
film profile] by Sofia Exarchou, and in order to do so, we needed to set up a company really quickly. It was just after I had watched Mad Max, and Klaudia liked the word “ant”, since producing a film kind of resembles an ant mound – it’s a lot of work and requires a team. I was asked by the Producers on the Move programme organisers why I do this job. It’s definitely an addiction, but that’s not the reason why I started doing it; it’s the reason why I am still doing it and looking for new projects, although I know how demanding and stressful the producing is.
From very early on, your partner Klaudia and you have worked on international projects. What do you like about them?
That wasn’t our strategy; we didn’t plan it. We just wanted to learn how to be a minority co-producer, and we liked meeting different types of people and being introduced to different cultures. Also, what was important for us was the opportunity to promote Polish talents. I know that a few of them continued working with foreign directors without us, so to speak.
How do you see the future of filmmaking after the pandemic has died down?
To answer your question, we’d need to hire a fortune teller within our company, just like we employ an accountant and a lawyer. No one can tell how the industry will evolve at this point; I think we don’t have enough distance from which to look at the whole situation. I mean, something has to change, even after everyone has been vaccinated. The pandemic is a revolution, and we need to adapt to all of the changes it brings. I believe that what comes after will be different and new. We have already learned that some elements of the international work can be done online, and even that it’s more efficient. Change is always an opportunity for innovation.
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