Interview by Sarah Kilcoyne
Photo credit: Sarah Kilcoyne
Juliana is a screenwriter, producer and superstar mum from Chicago. She’s been working with us at ESDIP since January this year, and we sat down to chat about writing, languages and top secret TV shows.
Sarah: Hi Juliana! So, seeing as this is a Coworking Award, let’s start there – what kind of work do you do?
Juliana: I’m a screenwriter. I work mainly in series development for the international and co-production markets. That’s just a fancy way of saying that most of the shows I help or fully develop are developed directly in English because they involve international partners. And by partners I mean everyone you need on board to finance a show.
S: Sounds fancy! Tell us a bit more about your company, Dehne Lima Film?
J: Good memory! It’s a production company that does little producing at the moment tbh. Instead it’s become a creative endeavour that develops content for film and TV (actually mainly for TV), but one day, when I have my own shows on the air, it’ll most likely go back to being a production company.
Photo credit: Dehne Lima Film
S: What inspired you guys to start the company?
J: My husband and I started DLF when we first moved to Germany back in 2010 because we were awarded a grant from the Bavarian Film Center at the Bavarian Film Studios, and you sorta needed a production company in order to actually receive the grant. We didn’t have one so we had to start one. When I met him he had a ‘prod co’ (that’s short for production company) in Amsterdam that was called Dehne Films (his last name minus Films obvs), so we figured let’s just add Lima (my last name). Then we got married and became the Lima Dehnes and confused the hell out of everyone. To this day some people still think our last name is Dehne Lima. But that’s a whole different story. By the way, the grant still exists and it’s called VGF Stidpendium and I totally recommend it to any newcomers out there.
S: Can you tell us what you’re working on right now? Or is it top secret!
J: I’m working on about 7 different shows at the moment. All in different stages of development. That’s about all I can say. Except for my own show that’s called Back in Time – which is a hybrid crime show and political family drama – I can’t talk about any of the other ones. Boring answer, I know.
S: Have you ever dabbled in acting?
J: Sneaky Sarah! How did you know? Ha! I have. I’m actually classically trained and started out as an actor in theater in NYC but then quickly realized that there was no money in theater – unless you’re on Broadway – and I had to pay rent (which if you’ve ever been to NYC you know isn’t cheap). Then I started taking jobs behind the scene and loved being on set so I knew I wanted to work with moving images instead and definitely wanted to do more than just play a part. I wanted to tell stories and create entire worlds. Cue in evil laughter.
Photo credit: Simone Naumann – Fotografie
S: Would we have seen any of your productions on TV/the silver screen?
J: In other capacities for sure- just check out my IMDb page – but as a writer, unless you can count festivals, NOT YET. I only finally got the guts to solely write 5 years ago. So it hasn’t been that long, but I’ve been very fortunate and have been consistently working ever since. Oh wait, I did co-write (and produce) a Brazilian children’s series back in 2010 that did really well. It was chosen by the Brazilian Ministry of Education as top learning material and got nominated for the renowned ‘Prix Jeunesse’. I completely forgot. It must be sleep deprivation.
S: I’ve heard you speaking any number of languages here in ESDIP, with all of our international clientele – French, Portuguese, German, possibly Spanish too… you must have studied languages at some point?
J: Nothing gets by you! I did indeed. I did my undergrad in Linguistics at the Sorbonne in Paris many moons ago, before I went into theater, then movies and then TV. Granted Linguistics has very little to do with the actual learning of foreign languages, but it still came from my love of languages. I grew up bilingual (English & Portuguese) and have always loved learning languages. Though admittedly the love for languages came later in life, since truth be told, if you were growing up in the Midwest in the 80s/90s, the last thing you wanted was to speak a foreign language.
But once I caught on I realized that with every new language a whole new way of seeing the world opened up and I’ve always been very curious about shared human experience. That’s probably why I ended up becoming a writer.
S: Now it’s time to show off a bit! Have you ever won any awards/Oscars/Golden Globes for your work?
J: Luckily not yet. Otherwise we’d be living in L.A. and not in Berlin, but I have won a Best Screenplay Award from the LYSFF in the USA and have worked on multiple projects that have been nominated for different awards.
S: And now you can add the esteemed Coworker of the Month award to the list! How does it feel?
J: I’m stoked. So flattering, especially since I wasn’t sure about co-working spaces when I first got here and now I totally love it. Not sure how that correlates but I’m sure it does on some level.
Photo credit: Simone Naumann – Fotografie
S: When you’re working here at your Fixed Desk, are you mostly writing?
J: Yep. I’ve got a baby at home so I do ALL my writing here.
S: Would you say that anyone who fancies themselves as a writer could get into screenwriting, or does it also require a certain knowledge of or passion for cinema/acting/theatre, etc? In other words – what sets a screenwriter apart from say, a novelist?
J: Good question. I think you’ve got to be at least very curious about the film-TV-making process in order to become a screenwriter. Something about watching actors say your words up on screen has to be really intriguing to you. You don’t get that writing a novel. Or maybe you just grew up watching film and TV.
I think if you really want to change the world working in a creative field, there’s no better place than television to slip in those positive progressive messages for a more just world or to tackle important social issues. I mean everyone has a TV (or a device) at home. Not everyone picks up a novel to read. Now don’t get me wrong, I love reading. I grew up a bookworm. I think reading is way more important than watching TV, but the truth is, more often than not, people are watching TV over any other medium of communication.
S: Was it always your dream to work in film/TV?
J: Hmm, yeah. Not. Gonna. Lie.
S: And finally! Any advice for aspiring actors/screenwriters/film producers?
J: Yes. Whatever you do, if you want to do it professionally then get to know the market you work in; understand your own USP, what you bring to the table in this competitive field that nobody else does; familiarize yourself with the business models that allow for films and TV to get made.
Half of the battle of creating is being able to sell it.
So don’t neglect the business side of writing or acting or directing. As a producer you’re already exposed to the business side of filmmaking, so my advice there would be: if you don’t know the nitty-gritty of storytelling, trust the writer. Don’t forget that all film and TV, at least in fiction, starts with a script. And that means it starts with the writer.
Are you also interested in coworking? Then check out our pricing plans here, or just drop by the space any day within the opening hours, Mon-Fri 10-19h, and we’ll show you around.