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Interview with Producer James P. Axiotis at the 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Interview with Producer James P. Axiotis at the 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival Producer James P. Axiotis 

Born in Athens, Greece, producer James P. Axiotis was adopted at a young age and raised in Southern California. A multi-range producer of feature films, shorts, original TV content, TV series and Post-Production, James serves on the National Board of Directors at the PGA (Producers Guild of America) and is also a member of The Producers Guild of Europe, The Television Academy and American Film Institute. James also spends his time as a volunteer to the Children of War Foundation and is a sponsor for the PWB (Producers Without Borders) initiative, founded by producer Kayvan Mashayekh. James lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Jerri Axiotis and daughters Sophia and Georgia Axiotis.

In an interview with James shortly following the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival, here is what he had to say:

 

James, can you talk about your career path to becoming a producer? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do? 

JAMES: Growing up in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of getting to be around production from a young age. When I was thirteen, I was on my first film set as an extra and was captivated by the world of production. Back then, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to work as but I knew it was going to be something to do with production and being on set. By the time I got older and worked my way up, I discovered being a producer was my true passion and got my first producer's credit when I was twenty-four years old.

 

You grew up in California, but you were born in Greece. How has your personal history influenced your producing career and the projects you work on? 

JAMES: Having come from nothing in an orphanage in Athens, I was lucky enough to be given the motivation of wanting to be successful in order to give back. I am now happy to say I am in the position to use my experience to help others, especially by promoting women in the industry as a way to honor my birth mother, Georgia, who has been such a big influence and inspiration in my life even though I have never met her. My history has also led me to now work on producing a short film about my birth mother as a way to share her story and that of countless other women in her position. Being an immigrant has also given me purpose in taking an international stance in my projects and volunteerism, having now gotten the amazing opportunity to volunteer my free time and expertise to the Children of War Foundation, which helps children around the world affected by war and other issues. 

 

Do you have a project you have worked on that you are most proud of? 

JAMES: While I am happy to have been a part of all of the projects that I have worked on, I truly believe the most gratifying of them all is the current short film I am producing, "Georgia," which pulls back the curtain on my adoption story and that of my birth mother. More than anything else I have ever done, "Georgia" is really a passion project of mine. It has been a rewarding experience telling this story and I don't believe any of my other projects have or will ever rival it. 

 

There is a huge focus on Greece these days for filming. Can you tell us about why Greece is so hot right now for international productions? 

JAMES: Really, I think that film is revving up in Greece due to the government's offering of a 40% rebate to those who produce works there. In fact, production has gotten so high in Greece that I had to postpone filming my short film because of how crowded production has gotten. I do believe Greece needs to build a stronger infrastructure to allow such high levels of production in a sustainable manner, but I am very happy to hear that this is happening and believe Greece is on the right track to be a major production location.  

 

You hosted Producers Without Borders events in LA in May and in Cannes in July. Can you tell us about those? And how well received they were, especially after Covid?  

JAMES: Both of our parties in LA and Cannes were very well received and attended. Especially with the LA party, we had multiple guests that approached us and mentioned how it was the first party they had attended since Covid pandemic. In fact, for both parties, we were at maximum capacity and had a waiting list of other people who wanted to attend. It seemed many people were happy that someone was finally throwing in-person parties again and since we were able to be safe and Covid-compliant at both of our parties, Kayvan Mashayekh and I just felt it was the right time to host them.

 

Can we expect to see Producers Without Borders extend to more festivals and locations around the world? Where will the PWB travel next? 

JAMES: I am very excited to say that we are indeed expecting to spread PWB to other festivals and locations. Our next event will take place at the Venice Film Festival and then we will have two more this year, both in London. Next year has a wide range of possibilities and at this time we do not know exactly where we will be, but we are very optimistic about increasing our range of venues.

 

You attended the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. While many thought it would not be a successful edition, it went very well. In your opinion, why is it crucial for producers and production companies to attend Cannes, even if the marketplace is not at peak performance? 

JAMES: Kayvan and I felt that because it was a kind of awkward year for film festivals that this was actually the most opportune year to have PWB attend Cannes. I do think that film festivals will change in the upcoming years with online hybrids, but I always believe that producers coming together and meeting face-to-face to share projects and recourses will always be a vital aspect of our industry.

 

What are your hopes for PWB (Producers Without Borders) down the line? Where would you like to see it go in the next 5-10 years? 

JAMES: I want to make it clear that PWB is fully Kayvan’s project and I am only a sponsor and avid supporter. I am a sponsor because I strongly believe in his vision and mission. I believe that PWB will greatly expand in the coming years and become a truly international group. It is my hope and vision that someday soon PWB will be a global network for producers and will be able to offer scholarships helping the youth around the world to pursue their passions in the industry as well as help share stories through film and television that people have around the world. I hope that PWB will also be able to create a fund one day to help women in film globally.

 

Interview with Producer James P. Axiotis at the 74th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Photo of Producers James P. Axiotis and Kayvan Mashayekh at 74th Cannes Film Festival. 

 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon. 74th Cannes Film Festival. 

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