Radu Nicolae – Producer

Radu Nicolae ProducatorRadu Nicolae, owner of Opal Production and producer of “Mercy Street” animation movie,started his cinematic experience in childhood, when he played a leading role in the adventure series for children „The White Rocket”, produced by România film and TVR in 1984.

In 2007, Opal Production was associate producerof Domino Film Studio in making the most expensive movie ever made in Romania, “The rest is silence…”, directed by Nae Caranfil.

In 2011, Radu Nicolae wrote, directed and co-produced the film „The Gift”, an Opal Production/Silver Bullet Filmco-production. “The Gift” is a drama based on a true story about the world of finance, featuring Andrew Pleavin, Zane Jarcu and Raluca Aprodu.

Radu Nicolae also owns the advertising agency Idea Zone, which, from 2003 until now, has developed and produced over 50 commercials for national and international brands.

The first thing I remember about the beginning of “Mercy Street” production is related to the jokes I used to hear about the film. All I could hear around me was that no one would be able to complete an animation feature film in Romania. The jokes were related to the presentation of the film. I was proposed to draw somecardboard pieces and move them very fast before public’s eyes to give them the impression of watching a movie. As far as I was concerned,they seemed to me very good jokes, but they didn’t make me change my decision. Nothing has changed even after 4 years. I submitted the project to European Fundsand the answer was “if you think you can make an animation feature film with thismoney, please send us the result”. This way, I eliminate any suspicion that “abroad” would be different. A foreign filmmaker always encounters the same type of issues, but on a different scale. I don’t regret the time spent with this production, four years, but rather the inability to make it as I intended to. After a while, you come to understand that all the obstacles we face are part of the producer’sjob description.

I’ll produce more animation films, I’ll make at least one try, as I strongly believe that one can make, right here in Romania, movies to break the usual threshold of audience and financial gains. Not so much for the money, but as a mean of personal development, of proving that you can be the best.

Although it is 100% original, I don’t think the animation technique of “Mercy Street” will be successful. It is rather a stylistic choice. In Europe especially, the fight aims to imitating Disney. An animation technique as ours would be adopted only if it could provide an enormous success to public, which doesn’t depend on style, but on marketing mechanisms. Festivals are an important market for us. Thefilm has already participated in a film fair and we hope to reach international distribution. For now, we focus on national distribution.

How was possible to make the first stereoscopic 3D animated feature film in Romania

In the first phase, we relied on the funds obtained from the National Centre of Cinematography, but they represented only a maximum of 25%. Advertising agencies, European funds, various friends came to help and they helped as they knew better. The film was made with a lot of difficulties in funding.

Ştefan Buzea was not initially part of the production team. Ducu Buzea, his brother, was the only director. He had come to me with a script by Alex Bordeanu in order to submit the project to the NCC. I was captivated by this script about a boy who saves the world’s music. It’s hard to find universal, modern and original stories. Ştefan was working for MediaPro at that time. The characters were monopolizing Ducu and so I called Stephen, who became the coordinator for the entire project.

Allsorts of unexpected and unanticipated problemsoccurred. To speed up the render, we had to turn to another software, which required converting all images. This meant that, for 2-3 months, we worked to do only this conversion. Not to mention the fluctuations in electricity, which can’t be fully absorbed by UPS power systems and give us short black photogramson picture. The only thing you can do is to get throughthe entire frame processing all over again. Put together, these power fluctuations delayed us 3 months. As I said, there is no adequate infrastructure for developing an animation feature film. Animation in Romania doesn’t have an infrastructure you can rely on. For example, the sound for animation is much more complex and creative than the sound for ausualfilm, so you don’t have studios you can call to have competing offers.

The work of a produceron an animation feature film, compared to a movie with real actors and real spaces or setsinvolves patience in the first place. You spend 3 or 4 years with the same people. As independent producer, you must know how to motivate them, to keep them beside you in order not to go to higher financial offers, to know how to put them together and make them deliver the material as you need them to.