Exclusive EAVE Interview
“It’s not business, it’s passion”
Ankica Juric Tilic and Ada Solomon in an interview about winning the Golden Bear with their film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, an all-EAVE-co-production and about passion, masks and Linda Beath’s SWOT analysis.
The film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn you both produced won the Golden Bear for Best Film at this year’s Berlinale. How did you feel winning the Golden Bear at the online festival, without the audience and the red carpet?
Ada Solomon: It was amazing. Before the Golden Bear I thought that Berlinale won’t be so exciting as an online festival, but during these 5 days it turned out that my mind was completely in Berlin even if I was physically in Bucharest.
That’s good, but it must have been strange as well.
AS: Of course, it was strange. But there was also some kind of connection that was even more extended, because I have the impression that for instance the press was much more present. We have just made the wrap-up of the press that we received, and we had over 130 main articles about the film during the Berlinale. The press articles are from all over the world: China, India, South America, the US, Germany, France, Iceland… you name it.
How did you experience it, Ankica?
Ankica Juric Tilic: We are so much looking forward to seeing the film together with the audience and with all co-producers in the same theatre in June. I still have this feeling that we will only have the full impression of the film when we’ve seen it together with the audience. Normally, I’m having such a terrible “stage fear” before the very first screening of the film with the audience as if I’m maybe the only person who likes this film. And then as soon as you meet the audience in the theatre, all the butterflies in the stomach make such a special sensation that I really cannot wait to feel. So, I agree with Ada that it is a sort of extended impression, which is good in a way. And what is even better: we still have some great things to look forward to. With less stress than we had before, of course.
AS: I think this will be a fantastic reward for all the hard work. I hope, that in June we will be able to travel to Berlin and that it will be a celebration without any kind of pressure, because the film has already been seen and there will be the interaction with the audience. We will be celebrating it together with the audience and exchanging the experiences and the thoughts with them.
A festival without pressure, that’s something we haven’t experienced before.
You have known each other since 2007 when you both graduated at EAVE. Have you been collaborating or co-producing together since then?
AS: Yes, we started with my project at EAVE.
So, you’ve been working together right from the start?
AS: Yes, it took a little bit of time, but Ankica fell in love with my project First of All, Felicia, a debut film by Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf. Afterwards we had a lot of co-productions that were less formal. We also have many Berlinale and Cannes experiences together because we are always sharing an apartment together with another EAVE fellow, (Finnish producer) Leila Lyytikainen, so this is much more than just working together as partners on some films.
Sounds like friendship.
AJT: Yes, it is a friendship.
How did it happen that you have co-produced this film together, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn?
AJT: I’m a huge fan of the director of the film, Radu Jude. I was always eager to be a part of his crew. This time it was convenient to step in time wise and I’m happy that Ada decided to pick up Croatia and us to step in as co-producers, because I admire the director and his work. Also, there is no doubt that I can easily work with Ada because we know each other very well. We have a similar taste, similar ethics and similar working habits, so we are matching perfectly. For me to work together with such a director as Radu felt like a privilege and I was really motivated to make this film happen.
There are 2 more EAVE graduates involved…
AS: We have even more EAVE graduates involved: Paul Thiltges and Adrien Chef from Luxemburg (Paul Thiltges Distributions), and Jiri Konecny from Czech Republic (endorfilm). Ankica was Adrian’s group leader at the EAVE Producers Workshop, and we have the associate producer Dan Wechsler from Switzerland (Bord Cadre Films) who is also EAVE graduate. Our sales agent is Heretic Outreach, and they are EAVE graduates (Konstantinos Kontovrakis) as well. So, it is an exclusive EAVE construction.
Was it difficult or easy to capture your EAVE colleagues’ interest in this project?
AS: No, it wasn’t difficult. We worked together with Paul Thiltges Distributions many years ago and we were looking for the right project to work together again. This film is an interesting construction, because on one side I was closer to Paul Thiltges while my colleague Diana Paroiu, who is a producer in our company, was together with Adrien Chef at EAVE in 2019, and she suggested working with Luxembourg. This is the beauty of such a network, because there are always more links coming together, so it wasn’t difficult at all to involve the EAVE graduates in this project. It all came together in a natural way. We have worked with Dan Wechsler on Radu’s films before, and we have already co-produced with Jiri Konecny. The difficulty was more connected to how to split the process among all co-producers and how we can fit together all these countries and their requirements in a film that is profoundly Romanian. I’m very proud how we managed to put together our minds, knowledge and craft to work it out smoothly – in a period when it is not easy to travel and co-produce at all. For the Croatian part, Ankica brought in excellent composers because we needed some music. Next time that I’m going to work with Croatia I’m not necessarily going to work together with Ankica because of our friendship, but because I wish to work with these specific composers again. They were amazing and also Radu wants to continue working with them. He now wants to put more focus on music because he has found partners who understand him perfectly and who can deliver what he is expecting.
AJT: There is one more thing that I’d like to say about co-producing, which also comes from my experience as a lead producer. It’s a great privilege when all co-producers are in love with the project, because then everybody is aiming to provide elements for the film and the director will have to do the smallest amount of compromises. This is the beauty of it. It is not about spending money or raising money or money issues at all; it is about how to help the director to pursue his/her vision and how to help the film becoming even better. This was great with this project, because this supporting energy from all partners involved was at all time present. It was so lovely listening to Ada and Radu later on when they credited all of us. They used every single opportunity to say how much they appreciated the help from the partners, which often doesn’t happen. I think it was the result of our energy and deep understanding not only of the film but also of the whole co-production process. This respect among all of us was really a beautiful part besides the Golden Bear.
AS: This film wouldn’t be possible without you. First of all, without you, personally, since you were the first one on board, and also not without the others. We are all from small countries, some are richer than others in terms of resources, but it’s a small film, not with a huge budget or a huge financial construction. It is interesting to see that it is possible to co-produce between such small entities and such different cultures.
You are both experienced producers with a large network; you are both EAVE national coordinators and Ankica is EAVE group leader. Are you trying to teach the EAVE participants to work together like you do, thinking what kind of quality each one can introduce to a project?
AS: Yes, definitely. There is something absolutely unique about EAVE and the way this network has been sticking together over generations. It is not only a label; it’s a real link between people. The emotional connection that develops during the workshops, at least in my opinion, is something that stays over the years. If you know it’s someone who was also a part of this process, you already have confidence in this person. If you look at the EAVE get-togethers in Cannes or Berlin, or at other festivals, EAVE graduates love to spend some time together, even if it is not part of their obligation. They care about each other. So it’s not business, it’s passion.
AJT: I think that the EAVE team does a great job at selecting people. I usually compare it with a summer camp or a military camp, because you spend hours and hours working together, and you get to know the people from your group very well. Once you get to know them, there is a trust built within, and then it is a very natural step to start co-producing together. I think it is a great programme and I think the span of one year is a good choice because there are these moments in between when you can reflect on everything, and then come back stronger and wiser. There is this circle of trust, which is the greatest advantage of the programme. Not only my generation but also other generations have proven the EAVE model as very successful by collaborating together professionally.
Coming back to the film Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. COVID-19 was a challenge for the shooting of this film, so you have integrated the wearing of masks into the film. Was this decision difficult or easy? Was it unanimous did you have to discuss?
AS: The discussions were revolving around the following issues: how can we protect our crew and our cast better in order to be safe, feel more confident and carry on with the shooting, and prove that we are responsible and that we don’t need to stop shooting. Because of the requirements that we received from the local and European authorities and also by using common sense we had to keep the wheel rolling. At that point we started making different plans and prepared the SWOT analysis as Linda Beath has taught us at EAVE, so we could analyse how to face the challenges and come up with alternatives. We are also very lucky to have a director who is very responsible and very practical in his artistic decisions, and he is able to adapt very easily. When we realised that we will be 30 – 35 people in a classroom for 10 days of shooting, it was his idea to do it outside, so we could keep the distance and be safer. It’s realistic that reunions take place outside in these times, so we agreed to it. Later on, he came up with the idea of wearing masks and we had someone among production partners who was reluctant to it. I wasn’t, because I saw it from the very beginning the way it is perceived; it’s a sign of the time and it will stay as a stamp of the film. The masks aren’t just masks, but they are integrated in each character, and they define as a costume the personality of each character; one more banal, one more sophisticated, one with something written on it, one really crazy, etc. It’s very interesting though, that we had only one actress that in the first days of shooting refused to wear the mask on the set. Not because she didn’t want to be protected, but because she felt that with a mask she didn’t have a full presence as an actress. When this came into a discussion, I understood very well that for an actor this might create a problem. At the end of the day the solution that we have found was to have a transparent shield instead of a mask, which is still protective.
So one could see her face and she was still protected. What did you think about it, Ankica?
AJT: I liked the idea. Later on, when the film was already out, I was listening to some concerns regarding distribution and sales. But at the moment when Ada told me about the idea, I was all for it and I wasn’t thinking of some potential problems with distribution or sales. It felt like the right thing to do. Also, the topic that Radu wanted to treat in this film could be easily said with or without masks. What I like about his work and his films is this contemporary moment, even if the story happens 100 years ago, it’s always very much about society nowadays. He is very strong with his stories, so for me this decision felt like the right one. Yes, this is where we are and let us tell the story at the very precise moment in history, September 2020. That’s why I felt it was the right decision.
One will always link this film with exactly that time.
AS: Absolutely. I think it is important to have this kind of testimony.
Do you think you are going to collaborate again in future?
AS & AJT: Yes, absolutely.
AJT: We have started a new journey a month ago, so yes, it will never stop.
Page published 29 March 2021.
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