Home Events EUROPE! How to Co-Produce an Indie Film Between the US and Europe

EUROPE! How to Co-Produce an Indie Film Between the US and Europe

A case study on STOWAWAY (directed by Joe Penna, main cast Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick) – the US and German co-producers share their journey of a true creative co-production.

They speak about lucky breaks, sharing creative visions, trusting and understanding each other despite different cultures and industry habits, and about how important it is to have or get the knowledge about how to combine the different financing options with  talent (cast and crew).

Sonja Heinen, Managing Director, European Film Promotion

Maxime Cottray, Producer, XYZ Films
Maximilian Leo, Producer, augenschein Filmproduktion GmbH
Ulrich Schwarz, Producer & Head of Production, RISE PICTURES

presented in partnership with European Film Promotion


Nov 02 2021


9:00 am - 10:30 am




  • Maxime Cottray
    Maxime Cottray
    Producer, XYZ Films

    Maxime oversees the production and financing activities at the Los Angeles-based independent film production and distribution company XYZ Films, where he produces and executive produces many of the company’s titles, including most recently Stowaway starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette and Dual starring Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul.

    Furthermore, Maxime spearheads the execution of all financing arrangements for both the company and individual films produced and distributed by the company, most recently raising a $100M production financing fund for XYZ in collaboration with the Finnish venture capital fund IPR.VC.

    Before joining XYZ in 2017, Maxime spent many years at the film financing group Ingenious Media in London where he was responsible for and involved in sourcing, evaluating and negotiating investments in studio and independent film projects, ranging from studio blockbusters including Life of Pi and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes to award-winning independent films including Selma, Carol and Brooklyn.

    A French and German national by way of the UK, Maxime resides in Los Angeles.

  • Maximilian Leo
    Maximilian Leo
    Producer, augenschein Filmproduktion GmbH

    Maximilian Leo (b. 1979) graduated in film directing from the Cologne Academy of Media Arts in 2009. His debut feature MY BROTHER’S KEEPER premiered at the Berlinale in 2014 and was nominated for the Best First Feature Award. Max is an alumnus of prestigious programs focused on international producing such as Inside Pictures, Simon Perry’s International Producing program and Berlinale Talents.

    Together with Jonas Katzenstein he founded augenschein Filmproduktion in 2008. Max and Jonas have produced and co-produced more than 25 international films including ANA, MON AMOUR which won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the Berlinale, HUNTING SEASON, winner of the Venice Film Festival Critics’ Week, MY HAPPY FAMILY, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and sold to Netflix, LOS PERROS which premiered in the Cannes Critics’ Week, and APPRENTICE selected for Un Certain Regard in Cannes.

    Max and Jonas have earned a solid reputation as go to producers by focusing on international English-language productions including the predominantly German-financed thriller 7500, the sci-fi thriller STOWAWAY and the drama HOME. They have worked with Hollywood stars including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kathy Bates, Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette and are always ready to support emerging talent.

  • Sonja Heinen
    Sonja Heinen
    Managing Director, European Film Promotion

    Sonja Heinen is the Managing Director of European Film Promotion (EFP), a pan-European network dedicated to the promotion of European movies worldwide.

    As Head of the Berlinale Co-Production Market for twelve years and Project Manager of the Berlin-based World Cinema Fund (2003-2016), she has been a driving force behind the international co-productions of films and funding films from developing countries.

    Before joining the Berlinale, she worked as a producer and project coordinator for Gemini Film and International West in Cologne. She started out at the Filmstiftung NRW in Düsseldorf, where she became Assistant to Executive Director Dieter Kosslick and especially responsible for international contacts, organizing the Co-Production Meetings and developing the International Co-Production Market Cologne.

  • Ulrich Schwarz
    Ulrich Schwarz
    Producer & Head of Production, RISE PICTURES

    Ulrich Schwarz is spearheading RISE PICTURES and serves as Producer & Head of Production for the company’s entire production slate and international co-productions.

    Most recently, Ulrich produced the sci-fi thriller STOWAWAY, directed by Joe Penna and starring OscarⒸ Nominees Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette, and co-produced Constantin Film’s high-end 3D animated adventure DRAGON RIDER, directed by Tomer Eshed and featuring Freddie Highmore, Felicity Jones and Patrick Stewart – both released in German theaters and available on Netflix worldwide in selected territories.

    Prior to his current role, Ulrich served as Creative Producer for UFA Cinema in Germany and produced Universal Pictures epic THE PHYSICIAN, directed by Philipp Stoelzl and starring Tom Payne, Ben Kingsley and Stellan Skarsgard.

    In 2019, Ulrich was selected for the prestigious Cannes Producers Network and he received his MFA from the UCLA Producers Program.