Ji.hlava IDFF 2019: Emerging Producer Tomáš Krupa, Slovakia

BRATISLAVA: Tomáš Krupa from HAILSTONE has been selected to participate in the 2020 Emerging Producers programme for documentary film producers, which kicks off at the 23rd edition of the Ji.hlava IDFF, taking place 24-29 October 2019. FNE spoke with Tomáš Krupa about the issues facing documentary film producers.

Slovak director and producer Tomáš Krupa (1983) graduated in Documentary Film at the Faculty of Performing Arts, Academy of Arts. In 2009-2013 as a foundation member and leading figure of the Greenbox company, he worked on a wide range of audiovisual formats of different genres. He is the founder of the production company Hailstone, which focuses on documentary films, and his feature-length debut Graduates: Freedom is Not Free / Absolventi: Sloboda nie je zadarmo (2012) was aired on Czech and Slovak Television and theatrically released in both countries as well.

FNE: Why did you become a documentary film producer?

Tomáš Krupa: To be honest, I've become a producer because I wanted to achieve as much creative freedom and control over my films as possible. So far I've directed two feature documentary films and during the first one, I already participated in coproduction. At the beginning of the first film, becoming a producer was a necessity for the film to be made. I invested resources and personal deposits into the first stages of its production. Only at a more advanced stage, I found a producer who was interested in the topic and with whom we agreed to cooperate. We produced the film together and took care of it after it was finished. The film was able to get into theatrical releases in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic, and we got it into television broadcast in both countries. Creating the second film as an international coproduction, I was already a major producer. I had to learn during the process. I didn't understand many things and had to learn them, often on my own mistakes. In this process, I gained some knowledge, skills and contacts, and it was natural for me to build upon them another production experience. It would be a pity to discard that "school" in practice and not to continue. I'm still learning what it means to be a producer. I didn´t plan to be a producer, it arose out of a need first and then from the need to apply experience. Combined with the need to keep everything under control during the process, after the film was made, I decided to keep going.

FNE: What is the biggest practical issue that you have to deal with in your own country as a documentary film producer?

Tomáš Krupa: When I was working on my first film, I thought that the biggest issue is to find money to finish the it. I wouldn´t say today that the problem is money. Of course, money is still hard to find and there is never enough of it. Its really hard to make films and meet market economy criteria and I am amazed every day that I am doing so well. I am shooting films and I am still able to pay my bills. I think, I've gained more trust from Slovak institutions, especially after the second film The Good Death, which was awarded at festivals, and was well received by critics and the audience. It's questionable if I will find the money for my new film, which is going to be more demanding and will require international coproduction and cooperation. The biggest practical issue for me is time. I would like to be faster, make more films because I have a lot of ideas, more than I can implement in a lifetime. The completion of every film is a little miracle for me, but the big issue is also: what is going to happen after it's done. Slovak film has still a lot of questions to be answered on this topic. How to get the film to the biggest number of viewers? How to motivate the audience to watch Slovak documentaries?

FNE: What are the crucial topics that you explore as a documentary film producer?

Tomáš Krupa: I like exploring and looking at life from unexpected points of view. In the first film, I examined the reality faced by students after graduating from art school. This topic was very close to me at that time. In my last film I looked at life from the end, through the theme of euthanasia, I asked if we really own life, or is it the opposite? I have always wondered to what extent we are free, to what extent we are creating our own life, or whether it is just fate? Freedom is an inexhaustible topic for me, like a diamond that changes its shape and reflects the light in multiple directions. I am sure that the topic of freedom will be present in my other films, too, either directly as an initiation source or as a final output. Right now I am working on a film that is not connected to freedom, but I would not be surprised if it showed up somehow.

FNE: Do you have a project that you are bringing to Emerging Producers in search of coproducers and partners?

Tomáš Krupa: Last year I worked on a film about leaving life and voluntarily ending it, now I have a natural desire to balance it with a survival film. Right now I am working on a documentary essay on survival and adaptation, from areas affected by natural or man-made disasters. I am interested in people who have experienced a drastic change in their life situations and have decided to stay despite the circumstances. They must continue to live in a world approaching a climate catastrophe. 

FNE: What is the most important thing a potential partner/coproducer should know about you?

Tomáš Krupa: That I'm stubborn, purposeful, can't stop and have to go to the last hope, the last chance. I always wanted to make films and nothing else. I like the incredible power of thought in the work. Something that first exists only in your head can create a film, which is the materialisation of the idea literally. And the fascinating thing is that a lot of people have to be involved in your idea, following it and completing it. That's really something, isn't it?

Directing and producing filmography:

Graduates: Freedom is Not Free / Absolventi: Sloboda nie je zadarmo (2012)
Produced by Furia Film, Hailstone and Family Film

The Good Death / Dobrá smrť
Produced by HAILSTONE, MasterFilm, Golden Girls Film, RTVS,  ARTE G.E.I.E., the Czech Television