Jan Kadlec And His Running World
58 years old. Married. He was a film producer with the Barrandov Film Studios from 1965 to 1990. Currently as a freelancer he cooperates with K.F. a.s. Praha. He has produced many films and TV series for his partners from abroad. He has worked principally with Bavaria, a company from Germany. He is known for being a demanding boss but one, who pays his people well for their good work. You are rumored to be one of the best producers in Czechoslovakia. You are rumored …
You are rumored to be an unpleasant and aggressive person. Is this a must in your profession?
If I were aggressive only in the very negative meaning of the word, then I couldn’t do what I do. And people probably wouldn’t have been able to work with me for almost twenty years. And that is how long the team of my closest colleagues have been together. I come into contact with thousands of people and now, when every other person is basically a businessman working for themselves, more than ever before is communication the key. Everybody tries to find a way how to cut corners and make things easier for themselves. The core of my work is to make sure that things run as expected. It is not my job to explain why something won’t run properly. My goal is to make it run. Always. I have to deliver what was agreed upon and stated in a contract. And I expect the same from the people I work with.
How many people are there in your team?
Fifty on average.
What languages can you speak?
I can speak German and I can communicate in English.
How do you get your film commissions?
Either a company contacts me or I ask around. At the moment I am working on six different projects without knowing which company will actually be interested in the end. It could be all of them or none of them.
What does it mean when you work on projects?
I need to be able to prepare a provisional financial estimate and especially I need to be able to adapt a script originally written for a different context to be filmed in the Czech Republic even if it means making some fundamental changes. This ability allowed me to convince a foreign partner to film historical mines above ground on a hill near Kladno and stormy sea on a field near Průhonice. I also need to be able to decide which project is worth investing in. If the company proposing the project is serious enough and will be willing to pay for it. Because anybody can send you any script – anything can get put down on paper. I have to look at the offers at hand and choose the most realistic one and yet consider all of them.
How can you tell that a partner from abroad is trustworthy?
I simply check whether they can finance their project.
Have you ever lost any money?
What did you borrow from the western world when filming?
Modern technology and special materials for creating props like sprays, sticking tapes, foils, and cloths which are not available here.
What did you use from here?
The environment. Although there are still enough available studios it is more economically viable for our partners to use real surroundings – especially for historical scenes, even with some structural and decorative changes to fit the script.
Do you also look for things and locations that are cheaper?
Of course. But there are instances where things cheaper here will actually end up costing more due to specific circumstances like our inflexibility. And you need to think about that and make a good guess. The more projects you work on the easier it becomes.
When filming how do you make sure that things run the way you want them to?
The essence of my work during filming is to anticipate potential problematic areas and be ready for them with a plan B. We have a filming schedule but we also have a so called smart book, which is used nowadays in other productions as well. And this book gives detailed description on day by day basis for all the professions. We have this book also in a foreign language in my team. Everybody needs to follow it. And what’s more the production team has meetings every week where all the contact people for each profession discuss filming days page by page. Then there can’t be any surprises and people forgetting things when we shoot.
Do you make any mistakes?
Everybody makes mistakes. It can be expected from anybody. To err is human and if the cause of the mistake is not being lazy about preparation then that kind of mistake is excusable.
Give us an example – what mistake have you made lately?
I expected that the competition, which is finally being established, would play fair. I didn’t expect someone to take a script from my desk and start producing it. I learnt my lesson. Now I only discuss closed projects.
How many hours a day do you sleep?
Five or six.
Do you consider yourself a rich man?
Aren’t you rich?
Look, if I like somebody and I have the time I might say: Let’s go to Mallorca for the weekend. I would probably find the money to pay for that. But it is the time I do not have.
Do you work for the work sake or for the money?
Both for sure. You can’t do this kind of job just for the money. If you do something for money you should have the time to enjoy the money. In my line of work there is very little time to actually enjoy and spend any money.
Have you ever thought about investing your own money in a film?
Before I could start thinking about that the issue with film monopoly and film distribution needs to be worked out. And then you need to have a script you can trust and believe in.
Is it any different for you when you produce something for television and when you produce a film?
No, it isn’t.
What were you like as a child? Did you swap marbles with other kids?
My father died when I was twelve and from then on I had to take care of myself. I studied a business school and had an after school job in photographic studios. I made my living and had fun at the same time. I liked taking pictures and that brought me to Barrandov. I wanted to be a camera man. But I was told that since I did a business school I should try production. So I did and did it properly.
None. I am not sure if I would have been any good behind the camera.
Are you happy?
How tall are you?
How much do you weigh?
Don’t even ask.
1991 / Radka Piroutkova