“Big platforms like Netflix or Amazon are actually making people watch more films in cinemas”
Industry Report: Documentary
Łukasz Długołęcki • Producer, NUR
Interview with Łukasz Długołęcki, producer for Polish company NUR and selected for the 2020 Emerging Producers programme
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Łukasz Długołęcki: I truly believe documentaries have a great potential to be an instrument of social and political change. At the same time, as pieces of art they confront one major obstacle – how to reach out to a range of audiences, at the same time using a choice of channels. Still – this is not a reason not to treat them as an important tool of change in modern society. We need to find ways of reaching wide audiences and surely the Internet is helping with that a lot. Changing one person's mind or opening one to the discussion about crucial issues is already a victory.
On the other hand, not all the documentaries need to be connected with some social or political change. There are many beautiful pieces covering more private stories – these are able to help people understand their emotions better and not feel alone in their everyday struggle. They can bring tears and laughter which I see as the most important type of impact.
Personally, I do love going into people’s houses and places I would never be able to go to if not for filmmaking. I feel it makes me a better human being and supports my personal growth – just like any other kind of experience.
What qualities should a documentary producer have these days?
I think that in the times of capitalism and image and information overload, documentary producers need to understand the balance between a product and a piece of art. To find equilibrium between these two is a great skill. The other thing is the ability to mediate between parties – funds, artists, characters of the film, etc. For me it's all about finding a middle ground and having plan B. Never giving up and believing in your director would be another thing to remember.
What do you think is the future of distribution of documentary films?
To me it's clear that the Internet (with its short forms) is overtaking the industry. At the same time, cinema is not losing so much because of that. Big platforms like Netflix or Amazon are actually pushing people to watch more films in the cinema – making us (the audience) more interested in the moving image. I hope this trend will continue with the same intensity for years to come.
What projects do you have under way (including in the area of fiction film and other projects)?
At the moment I am developing a feature-length script for a fiction film (as a writer) and two feature-length docs (as a producer). It's far too early to talk about these in more detail, but as the fiction is designed as a micro-budget Polish production, my ambition with the docs is to make them pan-European (and beyond: including USA and Russia) co-productions.
Emerging Producers is a promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the Emerging Producers 2021 edition is 15 March, 2020.
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