Production excellence in complicated times: an interview with Pavla Burgetova Callegari
As national rules fluctuate and transform rapidly in the midst of lockdowns and re-openings, it really does pay for filmmakers to have strong connections in a variety of locations across the globe. We caught up with executive producer Pavla Burgetova Callegari, the New York-based managing director of Compass Rose, to learn how to stay ahead during a year of great change and continuous adaptation.
What have you been doing in 2021?
Well, we opened a new company in Slovenia, launching in February with the aim of covering Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Austria, so that was a great moment. One of the highlights of my year was us producing a Macher 7 car commercial across the four countries in the middle of Covid-19. Transporting four crews across national borders over a period of ten days was pretty risky but it ended up going really well. We didn’t have to close the shoot and we didn’t get stranded anywhere – it all worked out! Another highlight was Stillking Prague’s Halsey project, probably the biggest music productions that we’ve ever had the pleasure to work on and – again – it took place during the height of Covid-19. What our partners Stillking pulled off throughout that situation was pretty impressive…
Sounds like it has been busy…
We really were! We have been busy all over the globe. We did a project with a kite-surfer in a Namibian desert – that was absolutely stunning – and have ended the year with new partnerships in Mexico, Spain, the Canary Islands and Portugal. In fact, we ended up shooting with lots of new clients in countries like Bulgaria and Serbia, where people felt it would be more safe in relation to Covid-19… Decision-makers have been looking for opportunities to experiment with new locations.
How did you and your team overcome some of the issues related to the pandemic?
Since the very beginning of Covid-19 in 2020, our industry did what we always do... We braced ourselves, we figured out what we needed to do to protect our local and incoming crews. We have put protocols in place which stayed in place, whether or not the situation remained especially complicated in that particular country. I was talking to some of our MDs recently, and we were saying how it sort of feels impossible to remember what producing was like before the pandemic. Now, we have adapted to all these new habits… you know, we are wearing masks, we are testing. Nowadays, we see new clients exploring new countries because production companies need to feel as though they are in good hands when they work overseas. So security becomes one of the driving forces determining where people work and who they want to work with.
What motivated to you move into somewhere new like Mexico?
Of course the weather in Mexico is an important factor because it is very stable and not as ‘seasonal’ as other places, so it doesn’t get too cold in winter. One of the big reasons that we are expanding into Mexico derives from the fact that most of our companies are based in Europe and South Africa, and we are not operating in a time-zone similar to that of the USA. Over the pandemic the country has become a very popular destination, especially for US-based companies, because it isn’t too far to travel, remains cheap to shoot in some really stunning places, and has a great mix of reliable crews and useful stages. A lot of the clients have not been travelling to shoots, and they don’t wish to wake up at unsocial hours for streamed shoots taking place remotely in Europe!
How do you negotiate questions of sustainability across your networks?
We’re a tightly-knit group of companies and we’ve all taken the Green The Bid pledge. We’re addressing the sustainability question in a careful, responsible way because we don’t have the same infrastructures across all our countries. For example, what composting means in Spain or the Czech Republic will not always be the same as Serbia for example.
There are different levels and contexts, so we work together to figure out what we can do locally, maybe by taking some of the principles that exist in one country and pioneering these practices in another. Sometimes, this is tricky. The bottom line is all of my MDs are deeply committed to running sustainable sets and at the same time reducing carbon footprints. Being members of Green The Bid has been really helpful… it is important to be honest with ourselves, understanding what can and can’t be done in each specific context in order to push the movement forward. The same applies to diversity and inclusiveness – we are always learning, always taking new steps to improve and evolve.
In what ways are you attempting to address some of these issues relating to the systemic inequalities that shape the production industries?
One of our most successful collaborations is with the South African Film Academy, an advanced organisation that trains young people from underrepresented backgrounds for different positions within film. We invest from our own pocket by hiring people from this initiative and bringing them onto our set. Importantly, these young people are not making coffee – they are actually working in a camera department, learning the craft that they want to specialise in. We are trying to push similar ideas to newer organisations in our other countries, giving young people some basic education so they can come to us with valuable skills. I suppose that’s where our strength lies as a group: with the type of people we all are, we can take a clever idea like this from one country and apply it in other countries in our group.
Photo credits: Compass Rose, Jamee Ranta (bottom Halsey picture) and Dani Vitale (top Halsey picture)
Not Logged in
You must be logged in to post a comment
There are no comments