Christian co-founded and helped grow Avanpost Media Hub; with 10 companies and around 60 of the best and most talented media specialists and film artists, offering complete services for creation, production and post-production, a 30-acre area ready for set construction and sound stages, cloud stages and rendering in process.
Cristian has a genuine passion for film making and a deep understanding of all processes involved, given his school training and professional background. He is truly interested in driving Romanian industry forward and raising its International profile through collaborations, results, networking, festivals etc. He is highly interested in being always up to date with market trends, business opportunities, who’s who, cinematic styles and audience expectations.
He believes that Inside Pictures will allow him to expand those skills and help him in the decision-making process when it comes to planning strategically for developing the production branch. Also, given the recent cash-back adopted by the Romanian government, he is eager to rise to the challenge of using this financial incentive to the benefit of the industry, given the quality of the projects, collaborations that are to use this opportunity and their potential to create added value, and here Inside Pictures will be of great importance.
What attracted you to Inside Pictures? What is your impression of the programme so far? I believe knowledge and access to high quality information to be of utmost importance for anyone looking to expand their business and professional horizon. I was mostly attracted to gaining access to the extraordinary professional expertise Inside Pictures delivers with each program, networking opportunities, sharing and understanding of the most innovative business models currently in use in our industry. First and foremost, I want to produce high social and economic value content with international appeal. I believe that today, more than ever cinema needs to embrace an active role in bettering the lives of communities, whether from an industry point of view (economic benefits, jobs generation) and from the social impact point of view (driver for cohesion and common grounds). In the last years, I have focused as a producer on projects that have a social impact, that bridge countries and people, with stories that deal with tensions in our regions and challenges that we all face (rise of far-right movements and nationalism, propaganda and fake news etc).
Secondly, I developed from scratch a post facility that is oriented towards catering to European industry needs and would like to oﬀer producing infrastructure that helps European artists reach international audiences. In the last ten years, our post-production facility ended up the go-to studio in our region, on par with everything that is best out there in the world in terms of services.
Producing high-end content is my next goal the consequence of having an amazing team of professionals with incredible talent and skills, as well as a must for me as a business owner who has a film education background and an appreciation for cinema as both industry and art. This is the perfect timing for me to attend Inside Picture since now I am focused on developing the producing arm of our company. I know intimately and benefited immensely from the value of constant professional development, international collaborations and quality of the network. For me, at this point in my career, Inside Pictures is an opportunity to design my professional future. The high level of expertise and discussions has exceeded even my best expectations and I am looking forward to every step of the way. Truly think that if you care for your role within the industry, if you want to produce value and innovate, Inside Pictures is a must.
Tell us a little more about Avanpost, which is far more than a post production business? What areas of business do you cover? We like to think of Avanpost (which is the Romanian word for outpost) as a creative destination. Our approach to each project is highly customised and tailored for its specific creative, technological and even financial needs. We are in love with what we do and that gives us the drive to grow with each project we contribute to. We currently cover production, post-production, an area of consultancy and support for talent and financing within the European system and Romanian one. We also run a newly established equity fund and are very present in diﬀerent International Festival markets where we give support to interesting projects that challenge us creatively. We are constantly trying to build bridges with international actors through our talents and project involvement.
Avanpost is Eastern Europe’s most comprehensive post-production facility, employing an exceptional team of creative artists, sound & video engineers and the best colourists and project managers in the region. We are a complete source for every post requirement, including sound editing, sound design, ADR, original scoring, foley, stereo/surround/Dolby Atmos mixing, mastering, in-context digital dailies, film imaging and restoration, collaborative non-linear editorial (available on-site or on-location) and HD/UHD broadcast finishing, 4K digital cinema, global content lifecycle support or localisation, and comprehensive film and TV services on two colour grading theatres powered by the latest Barco and Baselight flagship technology.
We recently expanded our area of business to production, having already collaborated in this capacity on several international projects. We are working to establish an innovative business model for producing European content with high social value and economic impact as well as international appeal. Also, my company’s ambition is to put Romania onthe map as one of the most attractive production destinations in Central and Eastern Europe, a mission we are ready to embrace as a team and as young professionals. We are using our post-production facilities as a competitive advantage together with our young private equity fund, on top of the newly introduced Romanian film tax incentive and low with-holding taxes to turn this goal into reality.
Romania experienced a New Wave a couple of years ago. What eﬀect did this spotlight on Romania have on the local film industry? Are the ripples of this boost still at work in today’s industry? I think that the main eﬀect has to do with revealing and promoting our local talent as well as a sense of confidence in the industry. Our international successes were an acknowledgement of the hard work and immense creative resources that went into bringing those movies to life. We owe a lot of the international mobility that followed to these talented directors, DOPs, actors etc. that initiated the New Wave. Through their works, Romania became known especially in regards to art house cinema. The ripples of this boost are still at work today. One example is that of our DOPs that are gaining momentum ever since in international projects. Romania became attractive talent wise and we consider it to be the key for industry development and international collaborations. The fact that we can now work on local projects for international audiences, thanks to the New Romanian Cinema movement and its portfolio, proves that we have an extraordinary creative potential.
You have been a great advocate of bringing productions to Romania. What are the best things about working in Romania? What’s your USP? First of all I am a true believer in our local talent that can bring value to any project. I can not emphasise enough the respected profile that our DOPs for example have gained internationally. From a financial perspective Romania is making use of everything the European financing system has to oﬀer (from local support to co-productions to Eurimages). Secondly, the Romanian Government has approved a financial incentive scheme that is highly competitive (35%-40% cash-back on projects), together with low with-holding taxes. And even today costs are lower than European average, whilst the local talent and creativity can bring high production value. Also, location wise, Romania is very rich and diverse. To this I might add our services and expertise: post-production, production and financing as well as our expertise and network in working locally for projects with international appeal.
I think Romania is not only a filming destination but, with the right team, talent and expertise can be a very solid and trusted partner for an international project. We can bring added value in terms of supporting the creative process and the end result. We have the means, knowledge, talent pool, incentives, network, and skills to deliver the best of results in terms of co-productions.
What are you working on at the moment? What are your plans for the future? I am at a point in my career where the projects that I am involved in and the national industry background create the unique potential for international outreach, interest and business opportunities. We currently have a mixed slate of A-list Festival awarded directors with international appeal and elevated genre projects in development.
This summer we’ve wrapped shooting our biggest budget co-production ever, over € 4.5 M, for the most awaited title from the Balkans about the Srebrenica massacre directed by the acclaimed director Jasmila Zbanic. The project was entirely European funded. We start shooting next week our first UK oﬃcial co-production that just got Eurimages support. The project is directed by Uberto Pasolini, known for The Full Monty or Still Life and starring Jason Norton. We are last mile servicing the post-production before this autumn’s Venice Biennale premiere of the State Funeral, about the death of Stalin, the next film of the famous director Sergei Loznitsa, who won the Best Director Award in Cannes in 2018 with our co-production title Donbass.
Last and not the least our first genre co-production, the psihedelic sci-fi thriller Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highwaywe won the Audience Award at Fantasia. After its North American premiere Jesus (…) is currently traveling all over the world in more than 25 festivals. The movie starring Stalin is directed by Miguel Llanso. Our next Sci-Fi title called Blood Machines will have it’s oﬃcial festival premiere soon.
As a personal goal, in the next five years, I want to produce at least one project as a creative producer, local content destined mainly to local audiences but with international appeal. In this respect, I already chose a project that will be our first majority production: an elevated genre dedicated mostly to the local public, as the main role will be interpreted by a popular local star. Of course, this is meant to be only the beginning of this new audience- driven path that I’m aiming for, which was not yet explored in our country.