04.05.2017
Growing Independence!
An experienced producer, right hand woman of the legendary Martin Scorsese, and a guest at the 10th NETIA OFF CAMERA. All of those pertain to Emma Tillinger Koskoff, who this year judges the films in the Main Competition. Koskoff talked to us about what will guide her in choosing this year's winner.
Growing Independence!
Emma Koskoff
źródło: Ewa Ferdynus

Kaja Łuczynska: I feel like the role of the producer is to always face adversity.

Emma Tillinger Koskoff: Yes, definitely. Especially when we were making Silence (2016). Everything was difficult, starting with financing and logistics – we were shooting in Taiwan. Despite that, the work was extremely satisfying. Every day I wake up regretting that I'm not on set, selving problems. I'm so proud of 'Silence.'

Not all problems can be solved, though. What can we do in the face of the weather, for example.

Of course some are insurmountable. We can only try to deal with them. In the case of Silence a lot was done by Marty [Martin Scorsese], who was incredible. We had financial issues, tight schedule, but we marched on and made do. Work on 'Silence' was an incredible experience – I feel like I have climbed Mount Everest without an oxygen tank.

It is sometimes said, that in modern cinema the producer is more important than the director. What do you think? Are those empty words, or is it really happening?

Hard for me to say, because that's definitely not the case of my work with Martin Scorsese. He's the boss, I'm just the passenger. My job is to create a safe environment, without issues, which allows him to create and not worry about the logistics. To be honest, I don't think a producer could ever be more important than a director, without a director there's no vision, which is integral for each film.

Staying with the producing thread for a moment: here at NETIA OFF CAMERA we pay close attention to women, those in the industry and those on screen. How is it to be a female producer in Hollywood?

Thanks to people I work with and my work with Martin Scorsese, I haven't faced some of the problems that other female producers. Of course the job is hard and demanding, but if you're strong and competent, it doesn't matter if you're male or female. Though the producer's work might suit women better in terms of characters: it's all about organising, caring, and patience.

"Silence"

A lot of this relies on a good team. You've been working with the same group of people for years, including Martin Scorsese.

I always say I have the best job in this business. On one hand I'm lucky I can work as a producer for Martin Scorsese, and on the other, I can also admire his work away from the set. Marty is very engaged in restoring films, he's also been promoting Polish cinema. I ofte tell him that when he retires (if ever), he should lecture at a film school. He's an amazing fount of knowledge, a walking encyclopedia. He has excellent memory, is always learning, loves cinema, literature and art. He's just incredible.  

The effects of your work can be seen at our Festival – this weekend we're screening 'Free Fire,' where you were the executive producer.

'Free Fire' is a special film and I really recommend it to the Festival attendees. Marty really respects its director, Ben Wheatley, and he insisted we got involved with the project. I remember the script – I read it at a lightspeed. Could already tell it was going to make for a great film. I love Ben Wheatley's previous films, 'High Rise,' which I watched at 10am and I definitely didn't need any coffee for the entire day afterwards.

You're at NETIA OFF CAMERA not just as a producer, but also as the Juror in the Main Competition 'Making Way.'

Yes, it's my first time. I'm honoured, shy, and really grateful for the invitation, and for the chance to meet Agnieszka Holland, whose films and tv shows I just love. Watching films I always look at the complete story and analise it from every angle. I also look at the practical aspects, casting, filmmaking, script. Emotions play a big role, but I'm here to choose the best film, not the one I just like.

What about independence. Can modern films still achieve that?

In some ways even 'Silence' is an independent film. I look at independence mostly in terms of financial independence, and I think it's very important. With Marty we're now trying to help and support beginner filmmakers who are just making their debut or shooting their second feature. I couldn't come to a better place! I'm looking for new talent we might be able to help very soon. They don't have to be the winners. Independent cinema is definitely alive and growing!

Interview: Kaja Łuczyńska