Yariv Lerner: The man who runs Nu Boyana Film Studios

Written by on June 23, 2017 in People - Comments Off on Yariv Lerner: The man who runs Nu Boyana Film Studios

A guitar is leaning against the wall of his spacious office at Nu Boyana Film Studios. Bob Dylan’s 1979 album “Slow Train Coming”, the vinyl version of it, is on the desk. Large paintings underline the creative atmosphere in this room.

Yariv Lerner, a tall guy, who has lived in Israel, California, South Africa, England, and obviously Bulgaria, comes in. He has a million things to do this afternoon. All those tasks make him move back and forth on the rather large Nu Boyana premises.

Between the office building and the gate, an international crew is using a drone to film a car chase. In front of the huge New York set up there, a big brand commercial is being shot, while what used to be a parking lot for Nu Boyana employees is now the scenery of a bank heist.

Even though he is dealing with countless crews and projects while producing motion pictures and organising events, Yariv Lerner is the calmest person on Earth. 

The Sofia Globe: There is so much activity up here at Nu Boyana right now. What will you guys be doing up here this summer?

Yariv Lerner: We are finishing up “#211”, the Nicolas Cage movie, and then we are going to heavy-prep for a movie called “Hellboy”. It’s a reboot of a very successful franchise created by Mike Mignola. He was basically a guy who worked with (comic creator) Stan Lee from Marvel, and he sort of went off on his own and said “I want to do Marvel, but with monsters”. So, “Hellboy” was then picked up by Universal Studios.

Gerard Butler shooting “London has Fallen” at Nu Boyana. Photo: Nu Boyana Film Studios.

The Sofia Globe: Judging from the actual movie credits, you just became executive producer for a full-length movie for the first time. It’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” with Samuel Jackson. Was it really the first time?

Yariv Lerner: I have been involved in the producer role for many years, but haven’t really taken the credit. The reason I took the credit this time around is that when a director comes in, they look at your imdb.com profile and they ask “What have you done? What kind of authority do you have?”. So I figured this is something that is natural to take. It’s a game, I think. It’s got nothing to do with who you are as a person, based on the title. I always joke that Mariana, who cleans here, at our studio, has been on more movies than most producers have been. Her imdb.com profile would blow any other one. She has more credits than anyone.

The Sofia Globe: How much of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” was shot here, at Nu Boyana?

Yariv Lerner: We shot five weeks here, four weeks in London and two weeks in Amsterdam. Some sequences were done here in the canals of Sofia. And we have computer-generated scenes.

The Sofia Globe: “The Dare” and “Stoic” are listed on imdb.com. Are those future projects?

Yariv Lerner: They are current projects. We are mixing “Stoic” right here, with Isaac Florentine. That is going to be delivered on July 3rd. And “The Dare”? Well, I don’t like the term “low budget”. That’s terrible. Let’s say it’s a cost-effective horror film.

Yariv Lerner on the set. Photo: Nu Boyana Film Studios.

The Sofia Globe: This is South-Eastern Europe. We are 12 flight hours away from Hollywood. Still, people obviously come here. What makes Nu Boyana attractive to all of those directors, producers and actors?

Yariv Lerner: It’s production value, basically. If you spend one dollar here, it makes it look like 10 dollars, you get value and the money ends up on the screen. Money is one thing, but to have a product they stand behind is different. There are many companies which use famous actors, like for instance Bruce Willis, but they can’t afford him for more than a couple of days. Here we have Nicolas Cage, but he is here for a longer period. So, you actually get Nicolas Cage when you see him on the poster.

The Sofia Globe: What kind of reactions do you get from actors, producers and directors, who come to Nu Boyana Film Studios for the first time?

Yariv Lerner: They are pleasantly surprised. You know, I just worked with Paul Solet. And he was sort of amazed of how much he got for what it was. He kept on getting more and more. We don’t say no to them.

The Sofia Globe: You’re a film executive, but you are also an expat in Bulgaria. What’s your favourite spot in this country?

Yariv Lerner: I’m afraid to say, because the reason I like it so much is that not many people know about it. But the mountains here are amazing, there are 134 hot spring here, each of which is unique, the fact that you can drive half way out of the city and you are in a different world, and the nature here is amazing.

The Sofia Globe: Which aspects or traits in Bulgaria do you appreciate?

Yariv Lerner: The warmth. People are very warm and open. I like that.

The first edition of the Udaya Live Yoga and music festival.

The Sofia Globe: There is a reason for this question. Do you do Yoga?

Yariv Lerner: Oh yes, I do. I started at age 18, when I lived in London and started taking it more seriously later.

The Sofia Globe: You organise the “Udaya Live” festival, a Yoga and music event, right here in Bulgaria. It’s already the second time. What is this about?

Yariv Lerner: We started filming Yoga, here at Nu Boyana, in 2011. Every year a number of people, including Yoga teachers, came here to film with us. Two years ago, someone said “This is just like a festival” and I said “Yeah, it’s a festival.” But because we grew, the combination of the studio and the hotel accommodation wasn’t sufficient anymore. So, last year we went to the Rila Hotel in Borovets, and this year we are going to the Riu in Pravets, to do the Udaya festival. Because of construction, which is going on at the Rila location, we looked at places in the entire country and could not find a space that was good enough. In Pravets, as soon as we walked in we realised they built it for us.

The Udaya Live festival Yariv Lerner is organising, which takes place in Pravets from August 16 to 21, can be found here.





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