Lago Film founder drives pan-European prod'ns

Marco Mehlitz’s first feature produced under his own banner, Berlin-based Lago Film, made its debut at Cannes: Jennifer Chambers Lynch’s “Surveillance.” With more than 15 years of film biz experience in various capacities, Mehlitz set up Lago in 2004 after exiting Teuton film fund and production house Cinerenta.

There, he had produced a slew of films, including Robin Williams starrer “The Final Cut,” Roger Spottiswoode’s thriller “Ripley Under Ground,” Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects” and James Foley’s “Confidence.”

Mehlitz has specialized in international film financing, and in 2007 he launched his Los Angeles-based production outfit See Film, in part to facilitate Stateside financing. He partnered with Santa Monica-based Blue Rider Pictures, which provided bridge and gap lending on “Surveillance.”

“Since I’ve worked extensively with ‘other people’s money,’ I always intend to secure the financing in the best possible way and make sure that they have the highest potential to have the investment returned,” Mehlitz says. “I cannot get myself to waste money — and it doesn’t matter how ‘soft’ the money source is.”

His next film under Lago is Jaco van Dormael’s “Mr. Nobody,” starring Jared Leto. Co-producing with Philippe Godeau’s Pan-Europeenne and Alfred Huermer’s Integral Film, Mehlitz raised coin for the $50 million production by way of an $8 million credit guarantee from the German state of Brandenburg as well as from a number of German funding orgs. Pic, a co-production of France, Belgium, Canada and Germany, is due out next year, with the producers aiming for another May premiere in France.

In addition, Mehlitz is producing Istvan Szabo’s contemporary love story “A Half of Two Lives,” loosely based on the biography of late writer Alison Waley. The $20 million production is to be shot in London and possibly at Studio Babelsberg in Berlin early next year. Liv Tyler is set to star in the pic, penned by Christine Olsen (“Rabbit Proof Fence”) and produced with Jeff and Rodney Spitzer.

Also in the works is Catherine Jarvis’ “Maestro,” produced with Daniel Harvey. Set in the 1960s in the Australian Outback, “Maestro” stars Tom Sturridge and Klaus Maria Brandauer in a story about a young pianist and his teacher.

Mehlitz additionally is prepping “Nuvolari,” a $50 million-$70 million production about 1930s Italian auto racer Tazio Nuvolari. Pic will likely become a European co-production.

“Films with European content and settings are financed easier when co-produced with other countries — and I have done this extensively,” Mehlitz says. “Every project has its ideal financing built into it — it just takes some time to discover.”

BACK STORY

AGE: 40

PROVENANCE: Berlin

INSPIRATION: “Big movies,” from “Taxi Driver” to “Godfather,” as well as the works of David Lynch, Peter Greenaway, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, “but also smaller European titles that outside of me maybe few people will remember — in general anything that pressed me into the theater seat and changed my life for at least 90 minutes. My chance to work with the visionary theater director Robert Wilson and David Byrne of the Talking Heads at age 19 changed my world for good.”

WEB: LagoFilm.de

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