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Producer Elena Ioulianou works alongside James Franco on new film

Elena Ioulianou

Life often goes in the way we least expect it. The person that decides to play the lottery on a fluke tends to be the one that wins. Sometimes, when the odds are stacked against us, or the circumstances normally aren’t quite right, that is when something amazing happens.

This was the case for producer Elena Ioulianou, who recently worked alongside James Franco with Rabbit Bandini and Studio 4. Ioulianou was doing some research on how to get more producing experience in LA when she came across an article about James Franco and Studio 4, and decided to apply.

“At the back of my mind, I knew that the chances of my acceptance would be rare being a South African and being so far away,” she said. “I also received word that there was an influx of applicants. On the off chance I was accepted I would have to walk away from a job and try find the money and the resources to live in Los Angeles for six months. Well, needless to say I was accepted.”

Ioulianou is a producer with Rabbit Bandini Films and Studio 4 Productions on the new film Dark Hours: Typee, which is set to release next year. She had to work alongside six writers and six directors for the film, which is both challenging and exciting.

“It was very difficult task, all the writers had diverse writing styles and all the directors had very distinct visions,” said Ioulianou. “But I loved the approach and I loved the premise of the concept and storyline.”

The film follows Jack Sheffield, who disgraces his aristocratic family’s name with absinthe-fuelled antics abroad. His brother takes him to Rosewood mental institution, which provides him with the one outlet that unhinged him in the first place: the theatre.

“I am a South African film maker working in an environment that was very different to what I was accustomed to. I like to pride myself on being able to adapt to any environment, this really was a huge test for me,” said Ioulianou.

What made the opportunity so amazing for Ioulianou was having Academy-Award nominee James Franco as a mentor. He assisted her throughout the entire process of making the film.

“Obviously learning from James Franco was an added bonus to shooting a feature film in Hollywood for a young South African producer. James assisted and taught throughout the scriptwriting and development phase. He was a brilliant mentor during the course of the film making process,” she said.

However, working with Rabbit Bandini Productions and Studio 4 was not Ioulianou’s first introduction to success. The producer worked with Rolling Thunder productions on many projects, including their Land Rover commercial campaign, which was a finalist in The LOERIE awards this year.

“These spots were produced for the Rugby World Cup, and if you know anything about South Africans, it’s that we absolutely love our rugby, so it was a real sense of nationalistic pride for me working on this,” she said. “The theme was based around all things rugby and includes the performance of a very enigmatic referee calling out humorous relationship behaviors.”

While working on the Land Rover campaign, Ioulianou had the opportunity to work alongside Herman Venter, the CEO of Rolling Thunder, director Harold Holscher, and actor Garth Breytenbach. Everyone was extremely impressed with her professionalism and dedication to the filmmaking process.

“Elena is incredibly passionate about film and commercial work and is always very willing to take on new challenges and responsibilities,” said Venter. “With Elena around we know that once she has been briefed, the job will be completed perfectly first time. We fully trust in her ability to deliver every time as her quality of work, dedication to the project and overall performance is truly remarkable and she is constantly impressing us. She is a very loyal and dedicated producer that inspires her crew and brings out the best in everyone in order to ensure a production that runs efficiently.”

Above all, Ioulianou knows hard work and perseverance are what brings you success in the film industry. Despite her many achievements, she continues to remain level-headed.

“Hollywood is filled with amazing talent. I am not prepared to be just another number,” she concluded. “I understand how long the road is ahead of me. I need to remain present and work hard, but I won’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

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