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Exclusive interview with EAVE graduate Carla Sospedra Salvadó

“We are changing the narrative”

Catalan independent producer Carla Sospedra Salvadó, graduate of the 2018 EAVE Producers Workshop and one of the founders of the association DONES VISUALS in Barcelona, talks about empowerment of women in the Catalan film industry and about her EAVE project WHAT WENT WRONG? by Liliana Torres which had its international premiere at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in November.

© Géraldine Aresteanu

 

Finding her vocation as a producer

Carla graduated in psychology and worked as an actress for some time before starting her career as a producer. That she ended up on the other side of the camera is thanks to a woman who gave her credit and believed in her.

“Life takes you places you never expected to go. I always knew I wanted to be in the film industry, as a kid I loved cinema. I thought I would end up in another role, but it was something life brought me, not something I chose or planned.”

She left acting and became the personal assistant to the well-known, internationally acclaimed director, Isabel Coixet. Carla began producing small projects such as short films, documentaries, low-budget projects.

“I started producing because she encouraged me, she asked me to do it… And I loved it.”

Carla’s strength and calling is to support creative processes, teams and relationships. This is something she can offer directors because she knows very well when they are struggling, when they have a creative block, when situations on set need her mediation skills.

“What I really enjoy about producing is being there for the filmmakers, helping them build their project, making it happen.”

 

Fostering talent and empowering women

For Carla, nurturing talented people, and especially women, has always been an important part of her role as a producer. About 8-10 years ago she started producing female filmmakers’ short films to give them the opportunity to understand the industry, take their first steps and get in front of the audience to test themselves. As a result, for example, Belén Funes has shot her first feature, „A thief’s daughter“ which has won the Goya award for best new director. Ingride Santos was nominated with the short film “Beef”.

“My second role is that I am on the board of a Catalan feminist filmmakers’ association – DONES VISUALS - in Barcelona. Together with another fellow producer, I created a programme to support emerging filmmakers called Acció Curts. Now I am coordinating the program for women producers. I am also one of the founders of this association which has been around since 2017.”

The programme at Dones Visuals is really intense. They have a mentor who mainly encourages the filmmakers to pitch the project better so that they can connect with the industry and producers can get to know them.

“For the last couple of years, we have been working a lot also on diversity, so we try to make sure at least one of the participants has a different background.”

The programme is now very well known, but Carla explains that they have to actively scout for filmmakers from diverse backgrounds because there are no references in Spain, so a lot of professionals from underrepresented communities do not think or do not believe that they could apply.

 

Passion leads to change

Carla has worked with Spanish directors like Liliana Torres, Carla Simón, Belén Funes, Elena Trape, Isabel Coixet, to name a few.

“I noticed that it was really tough for women to enter this industry. I think I was lucky because I worked for Isabel, who made it easier for me, in fact she kept encouraging me all the time. After that I understood that doing the same for others, not just directors, but other women in the industry, can be very powerful: creating a community, trying to help each other, supporting their projects.”

Carla intentionally chooses projects that are made by women, and she also tends to choose female department heads for a production. Then she tries to get them to select women for the production crew as well.

“I am also very open to having coffee with women who have projects that I might not be able to pick because I have a small slate in development. I can always listen to the projects and match them up with a producer who might be a good fit. Here it’s easy because we are a small region, we all know each other.”

Aside from the programmes they offer for filmmakers, scriptwriters, department heads and producers, the main work they do in the Dones Visuals association is political.

“Thanks to discussions with the ICEC (Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies), our cultural institution here in Barcelona, we have managed to get a change in the funding system. Now, if you apply with a project, you can get some points if you have a female director or head of department, if the script is written by a woman, if the producer or executive producer is a woman. This has made things change incredibly quickly, in a couple of years. Now the projects that get funded are much more equal!”

“It’s working really well. I think that it will ultimately take us further to festivals because we are changing the narrative, speaking a different language, bringing new stories to the table. There are some Catalan projects directed by women that have been really successful on the international market, and this is just the beginning.”

 

Strengthening the role of women at European level

The idea of changing the funding system was inspired by the Swedish Film Institute: Dones Visuals had some fruitful discussions with them. Dones Visuals also follows the activities of the British Film Institute, which is exemplary in the field of diversity.

Carla is a member of EWA, the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, a strong and supportive community for women audiovisual professionals across Europe. In addition to EWA, she is also a member of CIMA (the Spanish association for women filmmakers).

“I think there are many things we can share and collaborate on. For example, at Dones Visuals we are starting to work in a commission to be able to accompany cases of sexual harassment in the industry. We’d like to hear about other similar experiences from other countries’ institutions.”

EAVE project WHAT WENT WRONG? © Matriuska, Avalon, Miss Wasabi

 

WHAT WENT WRONG? – the EAVE journey

Carla’s project selected for the 2018 EAVE Producers Workshop was “What Went Wrong?” (¿Qué hicimos mal?) by Liliana Torres. The project was fully developed by the end of the training programme.

Carla took a big career leap in the middle of her EAVE year: she left the production company Miss Wasabi and started her own company EDNA Cinema.

One of the immediate effects of the EAVE workshop was that she found an associate producer, a colleague from EAVE, Luca Legnani. The project is co-produced with Maria Zamora from Avalon, also an EAVE graduate and National Coordinator for Spain.

“The EAVE year has changed the project in many ways. It made me realise that I have to think about the audience first and foremost. The project has evolved in many aspects at EAVE, but I think that above all I have grown as a producer.”

Carla explains that filming was complicated, not only because of Covid, but because they were shooting in 3 countries, waiting for funds from other countries. They made it and the film was recently released: it was presented in the official competition of the Seville Film Festival. After the international premiere in the official selection of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the film is now starting its festival career.

The main character (Liliana Torres, who is both director and leading actress) is a woman trying to answer her inner questions. She requests for interviews with former boyfriends to explore the mistakes they have made in their relationships.

“On this journey, she grows emotionally, and becomes more independent as a result, emotionally speaking.”

EAVE project WHAT WENT WRONG? © Matriuska, Avalon, Miss Wasabi

 

EAVE Producers Workshop in Barcelona

Thanks to partnerships and collaborations with Barcelona City Hall, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, the Government of Catalonia through the Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies (ICEC), Catalan Films, the Catalunya Film Commission and the Barcelona Film Commission, EAVE has held its third workshop week in Barcelona in 2021.

“I think it’s very important that EAVE is here. EAVE has encouraged Catalan alumni of the past years to co-produce much more, to think about international markets and to open our vision to the world.”

That’s not often the case yet, so Carla believes that EAVE’s presence has been powerful, it will bring changes and more connections to this region.

“I think it will encourage some people to apply to the Producers Workshop. I think it also gives us prestige in a way and maybe the participants will think about producing with us or shooting here in Catalonia…”

“It’s also the best way to promote our minority co-production fund because we are talking to the right people in such a nice environment. It’s a good way to show ourselves to the world.”

Carla says that the national and regional film academies organise many events for the local industry, but filmmakers mostly meet at labs and festivals, where there is an opportunity for discussion and collaboration. “Actually, there should be more activities to encourage these connections and networking.”

EAVE had the pleasure of inviting Carla to lead the local team for the workshop in Barcelona.

“For me it was an honour to be part of the local team. It’s very interesting to work with all of you and see how it works from the inside, how much work it means and how well and precisely it is executed. It gave me the opportunity to be back in the EAVE environment and wonderful vibe because I always say that I’d do the workshop many more times.”

And what about Carla’s Group C from 2018? Is it still active?

“We keep our Whatsapp group and we do Zooms every 3-4 months, also with our group leader Diana Elbaum! During Covid times we had shared our struggles, fears and doubts. And that was great and very comforting.”

 

Read more about Dones Visuals: https://donesvisuals.cat/

Read more about What went wrong? on Screen Daily and on Cineuropa.

Page published 10 December 2021. Updated 17 December 2021.


Donate to the EAVE Alan Fountain International Scholarship Fund

A scholarship has been set up to honour the memory of Alan Fountain, former Head of Studies and President of EAVE, who passed away on March 3. Its goal is to enable one producer from outside the EU to participate in all three sessions of the EAVE Producers Workshop each year.

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