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Konstantinos Kontovrakis, Producer on the Move 2014
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Collaborating with the Cannes International Film Festival for 14 years now, European Film Promotion΄s initiative, Producers on the Move, assists European producers in finding partners for their upcoming projects and to strengthen opportunities by setting that platform where the producer΄s potential can be truly recognised. In a highly selective process, EFP invites one producer per country and engages them in the following activities:

round-table meeting / pitching session for all selected producers
one-on-one speed dating meetings between the participating producers
Producers Lunch for about 180 European producers

production of a broshure and a poster

press campaign including producer profiles in major daily trade papers in Cannes

online presentation of participating producers

Konstantinos Kontovrakis, producer of Boy Eating the Bird’s Food, Standing Aside, Watching and Wasted Youth, and Greece΄s Producer on the Move for 2014 talked to altcine about his career so far, the changes in Greek film industry, his upcoming projects, the prospects of the Balkans, and the future of distribution.

F. Cossovitsa, K. Kontovrakis, M. Symeou and Y. Servetas at Toronto IFF with Standing Aside, Watching

Tell us who is Konstantinos Kontovrakis?

First time I ever worked in cinema was at Athens International Film Festival. I was coming during summer back from England were I was studying and liked the idea of getting involved in filmmaking. So, I became CINEMA Magazine΄s correspondent in England. I finished my studies, I obtained a BA in Film Studies and English Literature, and a MA in Arts Management and, coming back to Greece I worked at Thessaloniki International Film Festival for 10 whole years. Press office and programming. In 2009, I decided to become a full-time producer. I felt that after 10 years, Thessaloniki IFF had reached its course for me.

But, I΄d never stepped foot on a shooting set before. My experience with the festival plus some theory was all I knew. I had no idea whatsoever about production, so I decided to go back to school; not typical studies but professional training programs. I watched Creative Producers Lab of Binger Film Lab, in Amsterdam, 2010, and next year, I participated at EAVE which was an immensely useful experience. 

Shortly afterwards, I started working with Argyris Papadimitropoulos who introduced me to Giorgos Karnavas, my future business partner. We decided to work together on Wasted Youth. Wasted Youth became a big success and that was my entry to the world of production. Working with Fenia Cossovitsa΄s Blonde Audiovisual Productions was -and still is- something very important. Not having my own company, Fenia kept me under her roof and, with her support and experience, I started making my own productions. I learned from her and I΄m really grateful for this.

After Wasted Youth we made Boy Eating the Bird΄s Food, Ektoras Lygizos΄ debut and Best Greek Film of the year according to Hellenic Film Academy Awards, and Standing Aside, Watching which, starting from Toronto IFF traveled around the world, with a stop at the Berlinale and another one back home to pick HFA΄s Best Actor Award in April.

Boy Eating the Bird’s Food

In about four years you΄ve made four successful films.

Yes, I did a movie per year, including one that I’m finishing now. This eventually pushed me to create my own company, together with Giorgos. Heretic was born a year ago and, from now on, all of my productions belong there. Of course, we΄re going to keep working with other companies. I am a person who enjoys working with other colleagues or companies, even if it is from the same country. It΄s how movies should be made. 

Greek films΄ success around the world is a big factor for the further growing of Greek cinema. Do you think this happens because of a new generation of producers?

Well, producers have changed. I’m not saying that the old ones did things wrong. They were good but, in those times, domestic market was enough. Back then, If a Greek film sold 200,000 tickets we΄d call it successful, nowadays, if it reaches 10,000 we would still -with some exceptions- call it a success. The times have changed and you have to look outside the country in order to survive..

Yes, but we also see many films being produced today. How about distribution?

VOD is definitely the future. Here in Greece, there isn΄t any platform. There΄s also the piracy issue to be resolved, although abroad they΄re finding ways. While being in Toronto with Standing Aside, Watching, Vimeo approached us so we started collaborating. Now that Seattle IFF is screening the film, we will open it in the States and see what happens. The plan is to see the film΄s feedback at each festival and open the VOD in that specific country. We will distribute the film according to a country΄s audience size. I believe that VOD is the future of distribution, a very near future.

The upcoming film Forever by Margarita Manda

I was very happy to hear that Greek Film Center suggested me. Going to Cannes is very pleasant but I have done other things in my life for which I΄m more proud of. Now, people see me and congratulate me. That΄s really nice but I think is just Cannes and its charm. Although, checking the other producers΄ photos on the European Film Promotion page, I saw a lot of unknown faces which means I΄ll meet quite a few new people.

Was it co-producing that brought you here?

That also. You must have an international co-production in your CV in order to participate in Producers on the Move. Heretic has the film The Sky Above Us from the Netherlands, a co-production with Entre Chien Et Loupe from Belgium, Art & Popocorn from Serbia and Heretic. The film was shot in Serbia, with Serbian actors and a Dutch crew. We dealt with the special effects part, done by Giafka. Our part here is over.  

Really, what do you think about the Balkans?

Yes, the Balkans is our natural terrain. We have the same culture, the same habits, the same sense of humor. We have to make co-productions in the Balkans, we΄re so much alike. 

So, why we΄re not making them? Why do we (most of us) look towards the West? 

Because we have unstable and unpredicted film industries. We may spend money one day and not a dime the next. You can΄t be sure. Like here in Greece. I talk to friends from Romania, Serbia or Bulgaria and they too feel insecure. That΄s why we΄re looking for co-producers from healthy and big industries. It makes sense. 

What΄s next for you?

Margarita Manda΄s Forever, produced by Faliro House Productions and co-produced by CL Productions and Heretic. Also, we are developing three features: Pari by Siamak Etemadi, St. Nikolas by Loukianos Moshonas and Son of Sofia by Elina Psykou.

  Wasted Youth
  Boy Eating the Bird`s Food
  Standing Aside, Watching
  Forever (II)
  The Sky Above Us
  Argyris Papadimitropoulos
  Ektoras Lygizos
  Margarita Manda
  Fenia Cossovitsa
  George Karnavas
  Konstantinos Kontovrakis
  Elina Psykou
  Marinus Groothof
  CL Productions
  Blonde Audiovisual Productions
  Entre Chien et Loup
  Greek Film Center
  Faliro House Productions
  Art and Popcorn
  Seven Balkan producers selected for Producers on the Move networking platform
  EAVE Producers Workshop 2014
  Five Balkan Producers selected for Producers on the Move 2014
  Binger Film Lab Creative Producers Lab
  Blonde Audiovisual Productions
  Cannes IFF 2014
  Producer on the Move 2014 Booklet
  Producer on the Move 2014
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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