The Piotr Woźniak-Starak Special Award for the Producer of the Year 2021 is awarded by the Producers Guild of Poland. It is the only award of this kind in Poland.
The Special Award recognises and celebrates work of those, without whom no film would ever be made. Film producers often stand in the shadow of their works. Through this award, we want to honour their courage, determination and intuition as well as commend them for innovation, breaking the glass ceiling and positive influence on the film industry at large. Every year Producers Guild of Poland will present one filmmaker with the Producer of the Year award for a feature film or a TV series released either in cinemas or streaming platforms in Poland in a previous calendar year, regardless of a genre or form.
Behind the idea of the “Wyobraź Sobie” Competition stand friends of the film producer Piotr Woźniak-Starak. For years Piotr has created fantastic films and had a tangible impact on the growth of the Polish film industry. Creators of the project wish to pass on the passion that Piotr inspired in them and, through this initiative, energise the Polish film industry by connecting the talent with the film producers. The annual Producer of the Year Award will in turn be a celebration of the Piotr Woźniak-Starak professional accomplishments.
Piotr was born on July 10, 1980. Family had always been his support system, and his parents – real mentors. Although he grew up in a family with an established position in international business – he chose to follow his own path, which was not always easy…
He graduated from Aiglon College in Villars, Switzerland in 1999, and then studied Marketing Communication: Advertising & PR and Graphics at prestigious American universities: Emerson College in Boston and Parsons School of Design in New York. After graduation, he first worked at McCann Eriksson Worldwide New York as an assistant to the creative director – Michel Gentile – participating in the creation of advertising campaigns for U.S ARMY, CapitalOne, Ortho-McNeil, BlockBuster and later on at the Young & Rubicam agency.
After returning to Poland, he took up film production, and gained knowledge and practical skills by working with such recognized filmmakers as Andrzej Wajda (first as a producer’s assistant and then director’s assistant on the film “Katyń”), Maciej Dejczer (on the TV series “Oficerowie”), Christopher Doyle (as a co-producer on the film “Warsaw Dark”), Volker Schloendorff (as a producer’s assistant on the film “Strajk”) and Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze (as a production assistant on the film “Saviour Square”).
In 2008, he founded Watchout Productions, creating his own path in the film industry. He started by producing advertising and marketing projects and gradually added documentaries and film features to his portfolio, all the while building a dedicated team. The documentary “Mazurek” (Julia Kolberger’s short directorial debut) won 10 awards at seven festivals, while his first feature film “Big Love” (2012) was among the top ten best-selling films of that year.
Piotr was a real pioneer of the new production business model in Poland. He created his own, original idea for producing the whole film by prioritizing a team effort, taking into consideration the influence of the actors and the director on the script, and thus changing the well-worn patterns and canons of film production.
The precision and effectiveness with which he acted as well as a meticulous schedule that did not allow for delays or extending the principal photography. All of this resulted in productions that became both hits among the audience and commercial successes. An unprecedented proof of the right strategy was the film “Gods” (2014), which garnered over two million viewers. Another such film was „The Art of Loving. The story of Michalina Wisłocka” (2017). The production won numerous awards, including Golden Lions at the Gdynia Film Festival, the Eagles of the Polish Film Academy, the award for the best producer at the PKO OFF CAMERA 2015 festival and the Golden Film Tapes of the Polish Filmmakers Association
“The Coldest Game” (Polish title: “Hidden game”) turned out to be Piotr’s last production. It is an extraordinary thriller that can be classified as political fiction, since the story is set within the context of real events surrounding the Cuban crisis. It is the first film made by a Polish producer aimed at an international audience, with a world-class cast and international distribution. The film premiere was a tribute to an extraordinary man who certainly went down in the history of cinema – Piotr Woźniak-Starak.
Piotr had a special gift for telling stories that everyone listened to … He himself said about his gift: “This is my job – telling stories (and I can do it well, as I learned many years ago) that will captivate the director, actors or my business partners. I want them to fall in love with my vision, live my vision and for this “love” to become a catalyst for making new, interesting and high-quality film projects”.
Together with his team Piotr built Watchout Studio, which in recent years, in addition to feature film production, started to also produce commercials, provide services for international partners and is ready to expand into international co-productions.
On August 18, 2019, Piotr Woźniak-Starak died in a tragic accident.
He was the husband of Agnieszka Woźniak-Starak (nee Szulim). They were not only married but also real friends.