26-10-2020

FNE at Ji.hlava IDFF 2020: Emerging Producer: Agnieszka Skalska - Poland

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Agnieszka Skalska is participating in the 2020 Emerging Producers programme of the Ji-hlava International Documentary Film Festival, which runs 27 October - 8 November 2020.

Agnieszka Skalska Agnieszka Skalska has been working at Koi Studio since 2014. She runs film PR. As a producer, she debuted with a documentary film directed by Matej Bobrik, Our Little Poland (premiere at Warsaw FF 2019). Earlier, she was part of promotional campaigns for documentary and feature films. She is now working on documentary films such as Together by Marek Kozakiewicz (Doc Accelerator Prize / Dok Leipzig 2019), The Current by Rafał Skalski (Hot Docs Forum 2020) and Guest Worker by Matej Bobrik.

FNE: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work over the past six months?

Agnieszka Skalska: The pandemic affected my life in every sense, including professionally. At Koi Studio, the company I work for, it first and foremost introduced concerns about our future - we are not a large company and we were afraid of what else awaited us. Fortunately, the first lock down didn't find us during any film shoot, so I think we were lucky. We spent the first months of the pandemic at home, trying to combine family and work responsibilities, and then we slowly began to return to the old mode. After the first shock, I resumed shooting for a new documentary by Matej Bobrik, which was in development at the time, and in September we launched Triple Trouble in cinemas, so we started working in accordance with what the new normality dictates.

FNE: Emerging Producers provides a networking platform for young documentary producers. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has had the effect of cutting off international collaboration, has this changed your approach to networking with colleagues in other countries?

Agnieszka Skalska: It is interesting and also a bit sad, because this year I was supposed to take part in a few events that were supposed to expand my network of contacts in the international industry. In the end, I took part in them, but virtually, which is not half as effective and enjoyable as similar live meetings. In the first days of the lockdown, together with Marek Kozakiewicz, the director of the film Together, I took part in the ZagrebDox industry events, which was one of the first such events on the ZOOM platform. Everything was completely new and a bit "for a test", I had no feeling that it was really happening, that this was real pitching and real decision makers were watching it. Later I participated in the Hot Docs Forum, with the project The Current by Rafał Skalski, which was very interesting because the whole event lasted a month with meetings with people from all over the world at very different times, due to the time difference. On the one hand, I probably wouldn't have had so many meetings in the "real world", on the other hand, our industry is a “people business” and it is impossible to replace direct contact with a short meeting via Zoom or Teams.

FNE: Do you expect the landscape of documentary filmmaking to change because of COVID-19?

Agnieszka Skalska: Nobody really knows what might happen. I think that cinemas and blockbuster films will be particularly affected by the pandemic. For documentary filmmakers, the pandemic creates an “opportunity” to tell new stories, to capture those extraordinary events that are happening before our eyes, and in this sense there is no better medium than documentary cinema to remember these moments and talk about them with those who come after us. As for the industry itself, I hope that what's best about it, i.e. interpersonal relationships, will remain. And that there will still be a chance and money to make beautiful films that will win their audience.

FNE Are you working on any projects that are directly related to this crisis? Why or why not?

Agnieszka Skalska: One of my documentaries, for which we were supposed to start shooting in April 2020, has protagonists scattered all over the world - in the USA, South Africa, the UK, Canada and Peru. For obvious reasons, the shoot for this project has not started and we do not know when it will start. However, with each of our projects, we try to look for solutions that will allow us to continue the production and creative processes, regardless of the pandemic. In the case of this particular project, we have started working with archives, which will also be part of it, and thus the work will not stop, but it will definitely be extended in the end. Covid also affects all other projects - because we don't really know what awaits us, both in terms of financing and the fate of our protagonists. In Poland, we often say "may you live in interesting times" and these have probably come.

Agnieszka Skalska
Koi Studio

Together (Koi Studio) directed by Marek Kozakiewicz, in production; producer. Human story. Premiere planned for the beginning of 2022.
The Current (Koi Studio, documentary) directed by Rafał Skalski, in pre-production; producer. Live action documentary. Premiere planned for mid-2022.
Our Little Poland (Koi Studio) directed by Matej Bobrik, 70 min, Poland, 2019; producer.

The 24th Ji.hlava IDFF will take place online this year from 27 October - 8 November 2020.