“Documentaries are like wild animals with unpredicted reactions”
Industry Report: Documentary
Marcian Lazar • Producer, AxelFilm
Intervista a Marcian Lazar, produttore per la società rumana AxelFilm e selezionato per il programma Emerging Producers 2020
Why do you produce documentaries? Do you understand documentary film as an instrument of social and political change?
Marcian Lazar: I am mainly a fiction content producer and I was lucky that some great documentary projects come my way. I wouldn’t mention a pre-existent “vocation”, but after being involved and working on these films I started questioning the current conventions in this field of cinema, which are quite different from the ones I am used to in fiction, for example. The main difference worth noting is how a “story” is produced by observing the reality with a skilled cinematographic eye and using editing.
Documentary is obviously a great tool to raise awareness on many topics, including sensitive or dramatic ones. These “stories” have the potential of informing the public on issues that they were not aware of before, educating people by touching their hearts, allowing them to see and hear real people with real feelings, not merely giving them formal theoretical lessons.
I don’t know if the role of a documentary project is to generate social or political changes, but if some viewers feel the need to produce such changes it may sometimes be a good and useful enterprise.
I have worked on a documentary project that managed to show the irreversibly and drama of lacking education in a family with three children. The elder sister was completely lost, trapped between a toxic entourage and the use of illicit drugs. The middle sister, a vulnerable adolescent, was confused about which path to follow, being constantly exposed to temptations but still loving her little brother. The younger brother was saved after being enrolled in a social programme at his local school.
After watching the film, the spectators had the urge to take actions about children in their situations. You were suddenly aware of how the unforgiving passing of time and the lack of interest and involvement from society could easily ruin their lives.
What qualities should a documentary producer have these days?
From my experience, I need more patience and also the capacity to quickly react. Documentaries (especially observational ones) are less planned in terms of production than fictions, they are like wild animals with unpredictable reactions and requests that are often challenging for the producers.
What do you think is the future of distribution of documentary films?
I know I should be aware of these things but I am very positive about finding a good distributor and international sales agent for the films I produce. Recently in Romania you can find some distributors that are quite good doing their jobs.
What projects do you have under way (including in the area of fiction film and other projects)?
Currently I have two documentaries in production: Baby in the Woods, director Ioana Grigore and At an Almost Cosmic Level, Unimaginable, director Alexandru Badea. One fiction feature is in post-production - Imaculat, director Monica Stan & George Chiper-Lillemark and other feature fiction is in the financing – preproduction stage – Capturing Sami – director Adi Voicu.
Emerging Producers is a promotional and educational project, which brings together talented European documentary film producers. The programme is organised and curated by the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.
Deadline for applications to the Emerging Producers 2021 edition is 15 March, 2020.
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