Seeing Luc Besson’s action movie LÉON – THE PROFESSIONAL as an 18th birthday treat in 1995 left such a lasting impression on Fabian Gasmia that he decided that he wanted to become a film producer. “Over the past 25 years, I’ve never wanted to be anything else,“ says Gasmia who studied Production in Babelsberg and then attended the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris post-graduate program for International Production. “There might have been times when the financing for a film didn’t come together or we went over budget on a project, but that didn’t ever deter me from following my chosen path. What I really liked about LEON was the makers’ approach to the sound design, camerawork and music,“ Gasmia recalls. “And the film is brilliant at showing the interplay of the different crafts in the creation of a work of art.“
He had already been an avid follower of French cinema before LÉON and was able to intensify this interest during the year at the Atelier where he met fellow student Henning Kamm and subsequently set up their Hamburg/Berlin-based production company DETAiLFILM in 2007.
In fact, the connection to France has been particularly fruitful for the company with minority or majority co-producing credits on films as diverse as Mia Hansen-Løve’s THINGS TO COME, Olivier Assayas’ PERSONAL SHOPPER, Stéphabe Robelin’s MR STEIN GOES ONLINE and, most recently, Leos Carax’s English-language musical ANNETTE, which is currently in post-production and stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Moreover, Gasmia’s focus on international co-productions has included features by the Turkish directors Kutluğ Ataman (KUZU – THE LAMB) and Nuri Bilge Ceylan (THE WILD PEAR TREE) as well as Polish filmmaker Radek Wegrzyn (FATHER, SON & HOLY COW).
“I like so many different kinds of films that there isn’t really one single common thread running through the films I’ve produced,“ Gasmia explains. “But it would please me if my films can help people master difficult situations in their lives thanks to the example of a film’s protagonist who is being faced by the same challenges. I think that’s one of our duties as storytellers.“
While Gasmia’s now extensive international network of contacts keeps the flow of projects coming to him, the past five years have seen him casting the project net yet further with the establishment of two additional initiatives. At the beginning of 2015, he joined forces with Denmark’s Zentropa to launch a Hamburg outpost and has already served as the local German partner on two of the mother company’s feature films: Hans Petter Moland’s CONSPIRACY OF FAITH and Christoffer Boe’s THE PURITY OF VENGEANCE, both adapted from the Department Q series of novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen. The next collaboration with Zentropa is set to be Thomas Vinterberg’s first foray into directing for television on the series FAMILIES LIKE OURS about climate change.
A third production strand then followed three years later, on the eve of the 2018 Berlinale with the setting up of the Berlin-based production company Seven Elephants, inspired by the example of X Filme Creative Pool. Gasmia came together with directors Julia von Heinz, Erik Schmitt and David Wnendt “to produce artistic, entertaining and emotional films.“ According to the quartet, their goal “is to create productions that are demanding in terms of content and reach a large audience.“
The first production to go before the camera under this director-driven label has been von Heinz’s latest feature, the political drama AND TOMORROW THE ENTIRE WORLD, which is screening in Venice’s competition. Meanwhile, David Wnendt is preparing a screen adaptation of comedian and podcaster Felix Lobrecht’s novel SONNE UND BETON and Erik Schmitt is set to follow CLEO with his own particularly original take on the sci-fi genre.
“While the initial focus here is on the three directors’ projects, we will also be considering projects from other directors in the future and could imagine expanding the number of partners in the company which is my new home as a producer,“ Gasmia suggests.
“What I like about being a producer is that you have to be something of a generalist and cover so many different areas,“ he concludes. “I see myself as being a motivator and sparring partner for a director as well as serving as a facilitator. For me, it’s not about working according to set patterns, but looking to see what is appropriate for each film.“