Freimane to launch new production company

By Cathy Meils in Riga
Producer Laima Freimane of Screen Vision production company is set to launch a new services oriented company, 5 Level Production, at a grand opening on October 9.

After 16 years of film experience, Freimane thinks she has developed a formula that will bring outside money into the Latvian film industry, by focusing on growing markets in Russia, the Ukraine, and central Asia.

"If I look at the Russian market, such as for a TV series, the Russian market is 130 million, with another 40 million in the Ukraine, in addition to the Russian audiences in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and smaller countries," Freimane told FNE. "The only way to have an industry here is to cooperate with large growing markets. Russia doesn't have enough resources to support its growth." Freimane is also working to attract Russian speaking film companies to Latvia, which has Russian speaking crews that are "culturally closer" to Russians, she says.

Two of Freimane's four projects in development have stories with Russian and Latvian content. "I look for projects that cross borders, to find a local story with interest for audiences beyond the borders," Freimane explains.

A third project exemplifies that idea. Tiger, which will participate in Connecting Cottbus, is a black comedy road movie of three treasure hunters determined to bring a German tank back to Latvia and sell it on eBay. Freimane says she jumped at the script when it arrived out of the blue.

Although she says "it would be a miracle for Latvians to break into the English market," Freimane isn't giving up on moving into western European markets. She has a children's production, Diver, with a Welsh writer attached, to be shot in Latvia and the U.K. as co-production with Country Bridge, a company she and her English-based daughter Agnese Freimane established in London.