Seven years after his directorial debut, New Line's horror Lost Souls, Janusz Kaminski has begun filming on Hania - a contemporary Polish-language drama the director is co-producing with Zebra Film Studio, Gremi Film Production and OTO Film Studio.
Kaminski is best known for his cinematography on Steven Spielberg's films, having won Oscars for his work on Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. He is attached to three Spielberg projects in pre-production: Lincoln, Indiana Jones 4 and Interstellar. Meanwhile, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, which he shot for director Julian Schnabel, is in post-production.
"I never plan to stop being a cinematographer," he says. "I do like to direct movies, but I want to direct them on my terms."
With Hania, which began filming on December 4, Kaminski is realising long-held plans to direct in his native Poland, having emigrated to the US as a young man and studied film-making at Columbia University. "I hope with this movie I can make another step forward in introducing Polish cinema to the rest of Europe as a competitive and equal cinema," he says.
Hania is shooting on location in and around Warsaw without using studio facilities. The 30-day shoot will conclude, after a holiday break, this month.
In the story, written by Andrzej Golda, a young married couple take in a small boy from an orphanage to spend Christmas with them. "It's a very sweet, warm and happy movie that deals with very essential and important themes that are universal to anyone who is married," Kaminski says.
The film will have a holiday 2007 release in Poland. Abroad, marketing will rely in part on Kaminski's stature as a double Oscar winner. "I certainly will do everything in my power to bring the movie to America," he says.
Kaminski would not disclose his budget but said he was pleased with the value he was getting for the film's relatively low price tag. "It's a very comfortable budget," he says. "Definitely the production value for the dollar here in Poland is high quality."
There are no pre-sales on the film. A third of the financing comes from the Polish Film Institute while another third comes from Polish land developer Grzegorz Hajdarowicz. Kaminski is contributing a small part of the budget himself. Producer Juliusz Machulski has been behind numerous successful Polish titles, including My Nikifor, Saviour's Square and Vinci.
Next winter Kaminski plans to direct White Rose, another independent film about female Soviet pilots during the Second World War. "It's a very romantic, epic story that's set in the background of the Battle of Stalingrad but it's a real love story," Kaminski says. "You may think it's a story that's very specific and very unique for Russia, but the story is as big as Lawrence Of Arabia or War And Peace."