Producer L. Welden: Bulgaria's Movies Have Great Future

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | February 24, 2006, Friday // 00:00
Producer L. Welden: Bulgaria's Movies Have Great Future Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia News Agency)

Les Welden is the producer of Nu Image movie "Finding Rin Tin Tin", that is currently shooting in Bulgaria. Welden has produced a number of movies, and has worked with actors like Jeanne Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Morgan Freeman, and John Cusack. From the set of his latest movie he spoke to Sofia News Agency Editor Petya Sabinova about his work in Bulgaria.

Q: What is working in a mixed crew with so many Bulgarians like?

A: It's actually great. I've made maybe ten movies here and it's always a great experience. It doesn't matter how big your star is, it's about the movie making experience in Bulgaria and we have mostly Bulgarians working on this and they are the best in the world, really, they are.

Q: And if you had to compare them to other actors you have worked with?

A: I've worked in 10 different countries and I've never had a crew that works so hard and so efficiently as they do here in Bulgaria.

Q: Was it hard to find people who are fluent in English?

A: It was at first, when I made my first film here five years ago it was difficult because we just didn't know the talent pool here. And so it was very limited for us. Now we're finding many more actors who speak English and we've had many more casting sessions to attract actors, we've gone to theaters so that we can get to know who the Bulgarian actors are.

And we found kids like Joan [Karamfilov, who plays one of the leads in the movie] and Ivan Rankov, whose father is actually a very good actor here, Vesselin Rankov. So little by little we are bring in, for our American movies anyway, Bulgarians who speak English.

The crew also, for the most part they speak English, they don't have to speak English fluently, but the communication has been very easy.

Q: How about the conditions?

A: Depends on the time of year. They are excellent. We can do stuff here that would be impossible in Los Angeles, just because of certain working conditions that they impose there, having to do with unions and whatnot.

Here the people like to work. They like to come to work, they want to work, and they work as a team. There's none of this attitude like if a chair needs to be moved in LA you need to call somebody from set dressing. Here if it's somebody from like the grips department, they'll run over and they'll take the chair from you. Just so that everybody is making the movie together, like a team effort.

Q: Tell us something about the other movies you've done?

A: I just finished a film with Danny [director Danny Lerner] last year with Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. Prior to that I did several Van Damme films here, a Steven Seagal film, and many others we've done here, we've done 10 or 11 here, I've lost count.

But I enjoy it here, I spend between six and eight months of the year here. So I am practically Bulgarian.

Q: What do you think about Bulgaria in general?

A: I love it here, I love the people and especially the attitude of the people is always so positive, so helpful, they are willing to not only learn but to work hard for it too. But the best thing really is the openness. Sometimes you go to countries and because you don't speak the language people stand a bit offish. But I've always found, from day one, how open and nice the people are here.

Q: Do you see a future for the movie industry in Bulgaria?

A: I see a big future, especially now that the Boyana deal has finally gone trough I think the film productions here, just for Nu Image have certainly doubled and then other companies will be bringing films here. And most importantly I see many more Bulgarian films being made here. Nu Image now has Boyana as a resource to be able to help the smaller-budgeted films, which are generally the Bulgarian films, and help them get made and help the Bulgarian industry be up and rolling again.

Right now the Bulgarian film industry unfortunately has almost gone away. But with what happened with Boyana, it's gonna create so many more opportunities. And they should. Bulgarians have a tradition of making very good films, very human stories, and I think a lot of that has been lost.

Q: Have you seen any Bulgarian movies?

A: I have, actually. When they're subtitled it's easier, of course. I actually enjoy a lot of the culture here in Bulgaria. I enjoy Bulgarian plays, I've been to six or seven of them.

Q: What do you think of the fact that so far Bulgarians have been cast for a certain type of roles?

A: A lot of that had to do with the language. Now more and more people are speaking English and people are beginning to understand Bulgarians and I think that's starting to change and I'm hoping it will change, because it will also help us a lot.

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