Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer • Producer, Elemag Pictures
“Collaboration and teamwork are always a good start into a solution”
- Producer Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer, of German company Elemag Pictures, one of EFP’s 2020 Producers on the Move, discusses her career and the current situation
European Film Promotion: Corona is a real challenge for the whole film industry: What does it means to you?
Tanja Georgieva-Waldhauer: I have been very lucky in terms of production, all feature films I am involved in have been shot before the lockdown and are either in editing or even already in late postproduction, luckily I didn’t have to deal with a production lockdown. But now I have some films that are almost finished, which me and colleagues have invested a lot of energy, time and love into over the last years, and we don’t have any idea when and where we can open and start bringing them to an audience. For some we even had already interesting options for premieres. We also had planned a theatrical release on 14 May in Germany for Another Reality [+see also:
film profile], the documentary that won the Audience Award at DOK.Fest Munich last year, and had built promising partnerships for it - now it’s of course on hold and we are trying to find the best strategy. It’s not that easy since the overall situation is constantly changing.
This year’s edition of Producers on the Move will be completely digital. What do you expect from the programme? Is it still a chance for you?
Of course it would have been very nice to be in Cannes and meet all the colleagues in person. I am trying to take it with a very pragmatic approach and am really convinced that for business purposes digital solutions can work. I don’t believe at all that whatever-it-might-be-streaming can completely replace a theatrical cinema experience, but industry sessions can find their digital way - at least for a while. So yes, it is definitely still a chance for me, I am very much looking forward to meet my fellow Producers on the Move and hope to find connections that last for a while. And, I’ll be presenting for the very first time a new feature film and am of course excited about the feedback.
What projects are those in your near future? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
We have been shooting a lot in the last two years and are taking now some time to finish projects and also develop new ones. Currently in development we have two feature films and a docu-series. The documentary We Were Pitmen is in financing, we are happy that MDM and BKM are already with us. I am also very much looking forward to The Jewish Girl, a feature film we are currently developing with author and director Sharon Bar-Ziv. The film tells to the world an original story which has never been told before, it’s an universal story of humanity and I am also really excited that Samuel Finzi has accepted the leading role already. I met Samuel 10 years ago for the very first time when I was an intern at the dramaturgy at Volksbühne Theatre in Berlin, he is an exceptional and hard-working actor, I am really looking forward to working with him.
Do you take part in the creative/artistic aspects of the film's creation?
Yes, I do. Not always, but often. I am even sometimes developing film ideas myself and systematically looking for the best author/director for it.
What was the hardest problem you had to solve as a producer?
I don’t think that there is anything like “the hardest” problem. I had to solve already many hard problems and have already been a few times in a situation in which at least for a while I was seriously doubting If I would make it, but it’s not possible to judge or rate them. Being somewhere in Istanbul in the middle of the shooting of an investigative documentary about people traffickers and having a crying local fixer and translator on the phone saying that after a sleepless night she decided to quit the job, because she feared for the life of her family, has been a big problem for example. Or understanding just a few weeks prior to the start of the shooting of a French-German historical feature (with all the challenges that a mixed team, a winter shoot and complicated locations mean), that we would lose a significant part of the budget, but for many reasons have no chance to postpone the production, and therefore having to find a way to go on, is another example. But also now, having to find a way to distribute a film in the midst of the constantly changing lockdown conditions, is also a hard problem I had never to deal with before. If I have learned something so far, it is that collaboration and teamwork are always a good start into a solution.
What do you think are the specificities of the industry in your country?
In relation to many other countries it is of course kind of “high-level-complaining” about the consequences of the current circumstances in Germany, but still it’s important to say that it’s also a real existential threat for many creatives, crew members, production and service companies and of course distributers and cinemas. We are all going through something nobody has experience with and nobody can predict how it will develop and proceed. In fact nobody knows what will happen. Before Corona we had a quite stable production and distribution landscape I would say – still dealing with some challenges, i.e. the changing consumer dynamics, the fact that in Germany we are producing more than what our cinemas can show in a proper way (not only because producers are forced by economical reasons to turn every development into a production), the discussion around the need to increase marketing budgets from the very beginning, etc. Now I am really curious to see how we’ll come out of this.
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