Johannes Schubert • Producer, Schubert Film
"I want to build partnerships that last longer than one film. It's integrated in my producing philosophy"
by Marta Balaga
- The Austrian producer, selected for Producers on the Move, tells us about his passion for projects that focus on socially relevant topics and urgent stories of the moment
After graduating from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and the Film University Babelsberg, Johannes Schubert worked in Austria, Germany and the UK. Behind such films as Dear Future Children [+see also:
film profile], awarded at Hot Docs last year, he is one of the producers on Jessica Hausner’s upcoming English-language film Club Zero and has been selected for the EFP's Producers on the Move 2022.
Cineuropa: You are already working on Jessica Hausner’s next film Club Zero, featuring Mia Wasikowska. Does it feel like a step in a different direction?
Johannes Schubert: It’s a huge privilege to work with her and all the producers involved. European collaboration and filmmaking excellency have always been my goal and it’s an honour to now work with people whose filmography I have admired for a long time.
I was born and raised in Vienna, but then I moved to Germany to study, and then studied at the NFTS. I wanted to have this international approach to filmmaking. Two years ago, when Jessica had the first draft of the script, she asked me to join her company coop99 as a producer on the project. I really think it could be the beginning of something great. It could not be a better fit in terms of where I would like to go in my career.
How did you even start?
I started out as a TV reporter, so the content always comes first – that’s what drives me. I want to build partnerships that last longer than just one film – it’s integrated in my producing philosophy. It just becomes more fruitful for everyone involved. The films and filmmakers are at the forefront of my intentions, I really cherish them and see the importance of their cinematic voices. My goal is to be a real partner to them and enable them to work in their individual way. That’s my passion, in a way – trying to create the best environment for each project. When you meet people, you understand right away if you are heading in the same direction. It’s not really about “selecting” potential collaborators, because you instantly know if there is this connection.
Do you also care about the intention behind the film? I am thinking especially about Dear Future Children, where its message was more important than anything else, I felt.
When I think about any prospective projects, I try to think about the reasons for them to exist. Film is such an expensive medium and there are so many people involved – the stories we tell should be of relevance. So yes – the films that I would like to produce should carry ideas that go beyond the 90 minutes we see on the screen. It can be a political film, like Dear Future Children, which was about young activists trying to make the world a better place, or it can be family entertainment about a young deep-sea diver who used to be mocked at school, like in Laika & Nemo. To me, it’s not about one specific genre, but the films I want to produce should speak to the world somehow.
What is the biggest struggle now, in your view? Is it the lack of time for developing films or lack of interest in arthouse, at least as far as the general public is concerned?
I can only answer it in a personal way: I think there is a real need for stories in our society. I am convinced people are longing for good, meaningful films. They want to be challenged; they want something beyond simple entertainment.
One of the projects on my slate, called Ramses, is a political satire written and directed by Abu Bakr Shawky, who debuted in Cannes’ main competition in 2018 with Yomeddine [+see also:
interview: A.B. Shawky, Dina Emam
film profile]. We want to make a fun, playful and exciting film with a political dimension. It’s about keeping journalistic integrity in the face of state-generated fake news and propaganda, a road trip over the Alps in the 1960s, but indeed very topical now.
It’s funny that it will tap into your experiences as a reporter a bit.
I haven’t done it on purpose, but I guess stories like that interest me due to my professional roots. Also, with the director of Dear Future Children, Franz Böhm, I am developing a fiction film about an investigative journalist who risks everything to expose a systematic humanitarian disaster. For this project, we are again planning a crowdfunding campaign like on Dear Future Children, which was mainly funded that way. It allows you to involve the audience from the beginning and build a community around the film.
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