Inside the Mind of a Georgian Producer Living in Berlin

Modern times require new rules and standards. The Georgian film phenomenon was very strong and distinguished during Soviet times, when the advantage came in the funding it got. These days, producing and management skills are paramount. GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Nikoloz Apriashvili, a Producer and an MBA student at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, Germany, who has a special interest in the Georgian movie industry and its future.

Producers are not born. What is your background here in Georgia and how did producing come to your life?

As a child I always had a special interest towards moving pictures which gradually grew into a love of movies. There wasn’t much chance to get hands-on experience in the filmmaking industry in Georgia of the 2000s, so I decided to join Sarke Studio – a boutique advertising company which soon turned into the market leader and, by the end of the decade, had dealt with most corporate clients in Georgia. While the advertising business serves a different goal, it still has many things in common with film production. Luckily, all the partners at Sarke share an affection for movies, and at some point we decided to diversify our business and within the company started a film production division. Using our video production experience and following a particular business strategy, we were able to fund and shoot a locally produced debut feature film and distribute it the same year to more than 30 countries throughout the world.

Is producing more a managerial or creative field? What influenced you to study Management?

Perhaps filmmaking is the most collaborative form of art. For a movie to be successful, it needs layers of creative and managerial input and there’s almost no producer solely focused on just planning and executing the project. The same goes for me – I’ve taken part in script-writing, designing the film sets, as well as budgeting and scheduling the movies. But even though I was proficient at my job, I still felt that I needed a global perspective and a different outlook on the industry – that’s when I decided to join ESMT and its diverse class with 65 international students from 40 different countries. Studying here is a truly transformative experience and my expectations, particularly gaining global leadership skills, have been fully met.

You’ve been exposed to a completely new world of Berlin - full of new opportunities and a multi-cultural atmosphere where ideas are tested and transformed.

Definitely, living in Berlin means being bombarded with new ideas 24/7. Its multicultural environment, brilliant art scene, and inherent free spirit create a melting pot where one’s perspective on things changes really fast. One might discover that the idea he or she thought was original has either already been turned into a fully operating startup or has been tweaked and upgraded in a way that one might consider going back and reconsidering his or her own business idea, and that’s what I believe is the natural advantage of Berlin- providing access to a great network.

ESMT emphasizes technology in the business world. How does it link with production?

An MBA education, while regarded as a universal and solid business education in the world, differs from school to school and has different ‘flavors’ depending on the emphasis of the particular institution. ESMT’s tech emphasis was one of the primary reasons for coming here, along with Berlin’s unique start-up scene. The startup on which I’m currently working marries the entertainment and tech worlds and will make use of wide range of subjects taught at the school.

Tell us about any prizes or nominations your films have been awarded.

Sarke Studio opened in 2011 and to date has produced or co-produced eight feature films and a TV series. One of the major successes of the company was the production of ‘The Search’, which was directed by the Oscar-winner Michel Hazanavicius. A massive USD 26million project was co-produced in Georgia over more than 9 months and was nominated for various film festivals, including Cannes Film Festival’s Sélection Officielle.

You also participated in ‘Landmine Goes Click’ – are you an actor too?

‘Landmine Goes Click’ is Sarke’s latest thriller-drama which has also been nominated for various awards at 11 film festivals. As an amateur actor, I voiced one of the characters in the movie and, quite surprisingly, enjoyed the process.

You are graduating this year. What are your plans for the future?

Post-MBA, I intend to create a platform that will deliver an irreplicable virtual cinema experience. The system accommodates end-users regardless of their geolocation and immerses them in a virtual cinema auditorium using virtual reality devices. With social networking, film-suggestion and real-time user interaction modules, the platform reflects the next big thing in entertainment - virtual reality - and emphasizes the appeal of an interactive movie-going experience between groups of people. The irreplicability of the experience can substantially bring down the piracy rate for small film businesses and help them realize a profit even with a limited movie catalogue.

In line with the platform mentioned above, I plan to create a global crowdfunding website designed specifically for filmmakers. The resource will connect them with a potential audience and help with two hardest tasks in the business – film funding and distribution.

Additionally, in the long run, I want to introduce Georgia as one of the filming destinations in Eastern Europe. With a movie tax credit already enacted, I plan to create strategic business partnerships with Western film producers and, through Sarke, provide affordable production services.

Maka Lomadze

14 April 2016 20:05