THE SUMMARY EBOOK 2013
CONTENT page 1. Introduction
2. Gloves and cameras needed!
3. Networking at Generator
4. Back to simplicity -on the present state of culture and the future of cultural management
6. The use on new media in filmmaking
7. NISI MASA and the future of European film criticism
8. Re-shaping the European cinema landscape via funding
9. How to successfully submit your film to festivals in 10 points
10. Looking for the future of short film distribution
11. The art of co-productions
12. Generator that generates falling in love again... with movie making
GENERATOR Team 2013 Michaela Pňačeková Project Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Mirona Nicola Program Coordinator and Guest Manager email@example.com Léa Triboulet Local and Venue Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org Lucía Ros Serra PR and Marketing Manager email@example.com Leslie Saussereau Fundraising and Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org Catherine Poueyto NISI MASA Showcase Coordinator email@example.com Francesca Merlo Graphic Designer firstname.lastname@example.org Aurélie Réveillaud Local Partner Antenne MEDIA Strasbourg email@example.com Photos credit: Florentina Bratfanof Julien Pierrefeu Lucia Ros Serra Viviana Carlet Adriana Zgardan Merli Anstmaa Tess Löwenhardt
GENERATOR E-Book editors: Fernando Vasquez Luisa Riviere Michaela Pňačeková Mirona Nicola NISI MASA European Office 99, rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris www.nisimasa.com / firstname.lastname@example.org http://generatornisimasa.wordpress.com email@example.com
1. Introduction: Generating trans-European Dialogue at GENERATOR From the 25th to the 27th of January 2013, the City of Strasbourg hosted GENERATOR: Youth Audiovisual Forum. The event was organized by NISI MASA â€“ European Network of Young Cinema supported by the Youth in Action Programme, the City of Strasbourg, MEDIA Antenne Strasbourg and MEDIA Desk France. GENERATOR was created as a trans-national event in order to facilitate a direct dialogue between the institutions linked to audiovisual culture and those who interact with them looking for funding or other types of support for their projects. NISI MASA alongside its network member organisations aimed to confront the future challenges faced within a rapidly changing youth culture environment in Europe. Through its different activities, the forum was a generator in several ways: as a stimulus for dialogue between young people and decision makers, and as a motor for concrete action, both in terms of new audiovisual initiatives created by youth and for youth, and the development of youth policy in the audiovisual/cultural sector. 5
During these three days, more than 150 participants coming from 31 countries all around Europe gathered in Strasbourg to participate in GENERATOR, which aimed to create a dialogue among young professionals and students about the future of the audiovisual and culture in Europe. The attendants participated in workshops and seminars, conducted by a total of 26 experts and decision makers from different fields of the audiovisual industry and the youth sector. Representatives from MEDIA, Youth in Action, City of Strasbourg, Région d’Alsace, ARTE, KurzfilmAngentur Hamburg, Encounters Short and Animation Film Festival, Cineuropa, Interfilm, Daazo.com and many more were part of debates and panels with the participants. They discussed, proposed and answered questions about topics such as the future of EU culture funding and the direction the MEDIA programme is going to take in the future, or gave tips on how to acquire youth funding from the European Commission. They tried to help the participants have a better grasp of the concept of transmedia and they discussed new technologies in filmmaking and culture management. Another big topic discussed between the guest speakers and participants themselves was the future of the short film industry, which outside Germany and France is a minor part of the film industry as a whole. The participants were offered several workshops – from scriptwriting, through film journalism to culture management and distribution of short films workshops. Besides the workshops and panels, the participants had the chance to present their activities during the Project Pitching Fair and Feedback Me! sessions, two unique opportunities to show and present their projects in front of an audience and get a constructive feedback as well as to build new professional collaborations. The participants, together with the audience from Strasbourg, were able to watch 15 short films realized, produced or selected by NISI MASA Network associations during two screenings at Cinéma Star. It all culminated during the final evening in Strasbourg when 14 films, resulting from the GENERATOR Kino Kabaret, were screened at Cinéma l’Odyssée. The films were the result of collaborative work by more than 40 of the GENERATOR participants. The e-book you are about to read is the result of the Generazine workshop, whose participants monitored, discussed and reported on GENERATOR during the event itself. It is a collection of short sketches, debates and articles about the event itself but also about the current discourse in the area of youth audiovisual. We are very happy to present you this collaborative piece of work and we hope to continue with it through the next edition of GENERATOR 2014. Michaela Pňačeková GENERATOR 2013 Project Manager and Head of Network Department NISI MASA 6
2. Gloves and cameras needed! By Klára Trsková
6 am, January 24, a dark Strasbourg bus station. Your bones are shivering with extreme morning cold. Everything around is closed, except your red blurry eyes. So you catch a tram without a valid ticket, which might go to the center, and you keep x-raying every strange looking guy in a gray jacket. This is how it starts – the NISI MASA GENERATOR trip. Then you spend a day walking around, complaining, having a cup of tea every thirty minutes so you don’t freeze to death. When you are almost bankrupt, you try to find a way to any possible warm place. The Museum of Modern Art seems like a good address. You ask somebody how to get there using English. A random man gives you a lesson not to use English because “you’re not in England, young lady“. Unfortunately the only word you know is merci just because of a brand commercial advertising chocolate boxes in the Czech Republic. You finally manage to sneak into the museum without paying any entrance fee, survive the rest of the day and find some kind French person willing to lend you a couch for one night. The next morning when you are almost back to be a smiling social butterfly, it’s time to search for GENERATOR 2013. From the wide list of activities we decided to join Kino Kabaret so we spent most of 7
the time working on our short movie and there wasn‘t any time left to join the other workshops. That was such a pity because then we heard from the other participants how well prepared and inspiring they were. What we missed during the daytime because of shooting, we tried to make up for in the evenings. One of the programme events which I liked the most was the screening in the nearby cinema. You could see how the genre of short film has developed in the past couple of years and what amazing work can be done in less then two days during the kabarets. And GENERATOR parties? Don’t expect any raving naked film makers and splitting headaches in the mornings. It was all quite calm, pleasant pub talking and getting in touch with new people which might be a good help in your future projects. Once you come to Strasbourg and you get used to its slow French rhythm, you can’t leave very easily. Through this article I send one huge red merci to the organisers for preparing these great three days.
3. Networking at Generator By Petar Mitric
GENERATOR included two workshops whose objective was networking for young European filmmakers. The first event, “Feedback Me”, was targeted at directors and producers who wish to receive constructive criticism on their work from European colleagues. The second event, the “Project Pitching Fair”, had the structure of a classical pitching forum, where participants were invited to present their projects to find co-producers. The idea behind the two events was to make as many projects as possible circulate and thus become more visible and realistic. What follows below is a short overview of the talent profile of the young filmmakers and producers who came to GENERATOR to share ideas about their evolving projects with other peers. The general impression is that the projects presented were characterized by cultural diversity, originating in several different European countries. On the other hand, what connects the majority of them is the fact that they tend to showcase socially engaging topics and therefore draw attention to a number of underrepresented local and global issues and phenomena. We can say that the mission of both “Feedback Me” and the “Project Pitching Fair” events was accomplished as the feedback allowed all those interested to broaden their horizons. Feedback Me The “Feedback Me” panel included presentations of three films. Brindusa Ioana Nastasa from Romania showed a docudrama, which 9
resulted after 48 hours of following a young, gay man in Berlin. The director explained that she intended to convey the feeling of loneliness and isolation that people living in big vibrant cities like Berlin face today. She said “you meet tons of people when you go out in the evening but in the morning you feel alone again. The idea of my film is to demonstrate how people learn to be alone in Berlin”. The director received concrete feedback in terms of the film-editing style and dramaturgy as well as for music that can be used for the soundtrack. Gözde Efe presented a documentary, currently in postproduction, about the unfortunante destiny of an old vineyard which is about to be destroyed as a result of aggresive urbanization. People’s refusal to grow up is the topic of the short film that Rebeca Sanchez Lopez presented during the panel. Both these directors received feedback on how their initial ideas can be communicated in a clearer and more effective way and how they can try to put in place the missing finances. Project Pitching Fair At the Project Pitching Fair, the GENERATOR participants had a chance to encounter possible co-production partners for their nascent projects. The diversity of projects also characterized this event. The young Slovak production company Almostar presented a slate of their low-budget documentary and feature projects that are in different phases of development and production. Among other things, they are working on a movie project that consists of a few short mockumentaries. The project is called “Heroes” and speaks about those people who are, as the Almostar producers explained, “among us, but they give the impression of living on another planet”. Albeit sharing a common theme, all films from this documentary series use different techniques to tell their story. The Portuguese producer Luisa Alvão pitched a project, still in pre-development phase, about the anarchist island of Christiania in Copenhagen and how the 10
initial utopian concept of the Christiania zone is changing nowadays. The representatives of the Viennese group “Batesian” pitched a project that aims to complete a collaborative feature film – an omnibus that would consist of 5 science fiction short movies directed by filmmakers from 5 different countries, with scripts based on the previously set rules of an alternative universe. The project was already awarded a grant from the Austrian Ministry of Culture within the scheme for the new film format funding. The common ground of all the projects pitched here is the search for foreign co-producers that would be interested to contribute creatively and financially to the projects’ realization. All the producers have applied or are planning to apply to film funds in their home countries; however national support is almost never enough. Producers do have an opportunity to apply for European funds, such as those offered by the MEDIA programme. For co-produced feature films, national funds can be obtained in all the countries involved. However, the competition is extremely high and usually young producers have to fight against established names applying for the most well-known funding schemes. Such a situation implies that projects must be of very high quality and extremely innovative. Therefore, pitching forums and “Feedback Me” sessions are an excellent testing ground for these projects. In such a context, filmmakers and producers can evaluate how competitive and authentic their project is and what should be improved in case it fails to attract attention of producers, financiers and potential audience. Many successful movies have been made after the 8th or 10th pitching. Maybe we would have never seen them on screen, had their ideas, messages, scripts, and aesthetics not been re-visited and adjusted over and over again before the first day of shooting began.
4. Back to simplicity on the present state of culture and the future of cultural management By Moritz Piehler
There was a sullen and somewhat sombre atmosphere in the seminar room on the first afternoon of the cultural management workshop at GENERATOR, as Tomáš Prášek announced the end of culture to a room full of young film makers and cultural management. Basically, the solution the former head of hospitality at the Czech Karlovy Vary Film Festival offers is time travel. The modern overflow of information has lead to a critically blown-up state of the culture scene, says Prášek. “If we went back to the 60s now, we would discover simplicity of things. You had to actually show something for your work. There was no such thing as a cultural manager,” he said addressing the hard-to-determine content of many occupations in today’s cultural management. Of course the thesis is meant to be provocative and to trigger the new generation’s inspiration for changing the way the cultural field is working today. It was time to sit down with the co-founder of Eventival and find out more about his opinions on the complex construction that is the cultural circus. Prášek, who attends between forty and fifty festivals a year, has been around for a long time and doesn’t believe in flat hierarchies. In a film festival, there are all kind of different levels of motivation to be found, especially as many of the jobs are filled by volunteers or low-paid enthusiasts. “Basically it is like running a McDonald’s restaurant. You need someone to be there in the morning and tell the employees: You need to make the fries, you need to work at the counter. If one of them doesn’t know what their job is, the whole thing doesn’t work out.” Motivation is a key factor, according to Prášek. “Look in the mirror and ask yourself if this is what you 12
really want to be doing.” Naturally new media has changed the scene considerably in the last couple of years. “There is an overwhelming amount of sounds, images, shapes, colours, smells” said Prášek, only to add half jokingly, “That was one good thing about communism; you were deprived of any choice. There was one brand of guitar, it was a crappy one, but everybody bought it.” The constant flood of information and the tools and opportunities it offers to those in the cultural world has also rearranged the possibilities of funding and distribution, especially in film making. “It has become so hard to show loyalty today with the way that the exchange of information and cultural products has developed. Nobody knows anymore what is theft and what isn’t,” Prášek explained. “So supporting creative people online can be a valid way of showing support.” He names Iron Sky as the most successful example of functioning crowdfunding and even sees an added profit for creatives in there. Especially in the music business where so much of the artist’s actual profit is taken away by labels, finding their own support online can be a valid solution. “The additional value of not letting those criminals take away most of the earnings is worth taking the leap. It really is empowering people in a way, so it is a good period of time right now. Of course piracy is the other side of the coin” Prášek added. “The whole system is very bureaucratic and confusing. In my opinion, if you have an artistic soul and the gift of seeing beauty, the worst thing is to have to think strategic”, he emphasized. “Even the language surrounding culture has changed so much. Something genuine, beautiful and innovative is presented in the language do management and business”. Still the Czech entrepreneur did not want to discourage the young audience. “My mission for this workshop was to get these young people to question the meaning of their own position. I want them to take control of the definition of their jobs and thus be more concrete about their goals and their direction. Everybody has a ‘project’ they are ‘involved’ in nowadays. I hate that language, it is the comfort of the vague.” As a last tip for a career in cultural management Prášek has two priorities for the new generation: “Less is more and: Don’t hire friends!”
5. Transmedia Interview with Domenico La Porta By Lynn Klein
Transmedia appears to be one of those new fashionable words that emerge in nowadaysâ€™ culture, but hardly anybody knows what it means. You hear a word, associate it with something, but what is actually hiding behind it? At GENERATOR, Domenico La Porta had all the answers. As Editor in chief for Cineuropa, Domenico has plenty of experience in traditional media and film, but also in the new emerging formats that media, and the people behind it, develop. Supported by a great presentation, Domenico passed on his knowledge and explained what transmedia is and what you need to be successful with it. Transmedia is a device with which you can take the viewer experience to ano14
ther level by involving them in the project. The public cannot only consume the film, game, or story, but they actually get involved in it, and even take it to the next level. A popular example would be fan fiction, such as Pottermore. On this website, over 600.000 (and still counting) Harry Potter stories have been written keeping Potterâ€™s fantasy world alive, and allowing for a deeper exploration of the seriesâ€™ characters. Unlike crossmedia, transmedia not only copies a story, but it develops it, and turns it into different media, for example by turning a book into a video game, an app, or a film that adds to the storyline. Talking to Domenico, one realizes where his knowledge comes from and why this new format is so interesting to him, and
many other people. His first experience with transmedia is a very early one. Video games are part of this, as they are a medium that has been incorporating several media for decades. Commando was just a video game to Domenico, but then he realized that it was actually also a film, and that it was in his power to change the storyline in the game, thus being part of the creative process. Another example of transmedia is the TV show Lost, whose producers developed, in between seasons, a video game as well. This was rewarding for several reasons. Not only did this add new themes and storylines to the show, but Domenico was proud to be part of it, and was able to know more about the show than the regular viewer. It became a shared experience rather than a one-sided one. While projects do not necessarily have to be established to become big through transmedia, Domenico knows that one needs the right strategy to succeed. If you are starting from scratch, â€œaim at some realistic goals with the possibility to expandâ€?, Domenico says. With proper funding, one can achieve a lot, but even so, you have to know your limits. Especially if a project is too broad, and there are too many components to it, it can be ruined by the sheer number of impulses. On the other hand, Domenico knows plenty of projects that surprised as they were very well done, and the money provided was used effectively. The game Angry Birds would be such an example. A simple idea that is carried out skillfully can expand into a multimillion business. Transmedia is definitely a concept that is in transition, and that will keep transforming 15
throughout the next years. People will use it more, and it will be funded more extensively. But, “a film will always be a film”, says Domenico, meaning that it is an old, but not dated medium. However, it will be taken to different levels, and the audience will be involved to a much greater extent. It is a consequence of audience behaviour as it is auto-regulating and the people decide what they want. Domenico incorporates games into his projects not because he likes playing games, but because the audience tells him that they want to play games. With people’s personal values influencing projects, they can even become moral tales about ecology or other important issues. Either way, Domenico knows that people’s behaviour is changing. His daughter, for instance, used to love bedtime stories, but now she uses an iPad to be creative. This doesn’t mean that the pattern shifts. Progress in mentalities brings about changes in focus, but it is important to work with this shift to create cultural products instead of things.
THE USE OF NEW MEDIA IN FILMMAKING
6. Breaking bad habits By Miha Veingerl
Utopia is a state that vanished about 100 years ago, at least in terms of pure, direct, honest advertising, or media and their relationship with the audiences. Media manipulation began to intensify with the implementation of psychoanalytical approaches by Sigmund Freud´s nephew Edward Bernays – those interested can check his methods in his book “Propaganda” – and it is getting increasingly radical with every new technological tool. Those tools, their usability in regard to filmmaking and their connection with recent scientific research were the topics of a workshop led by the media artist and filmmaker Synes Elischka. For his PhD project he is researching the structures of immersion, which could be defined as the levels of engagement of audiences into a film or other media, and that could rise up to the point of forgetting the environment around us. Scholars currently differentiate between three types of immersion: a physical one, recognizing the different technological approaches to storytelling; an emotional kind, building up a narrative identification with the characters as well as incorporating the rules of a particular storytelling structure; and a cognitive kind, the intentional active involvement of the audience into completing story gaps, cracking mysteries which should be a task that is not boring but also not prompting rejection. To sum it up and hereby allegorize Fritz Lang: to make a really persuasive media product, one needs to combine the hand(craft), the brain and the heart. Neuroscience and similar fields of science are in general widely concerned with the topic of perception. Research was recently supplemented with the discovery of the so-called mirror neurons. These send the same signals to the brain, regardless if we personally apply an action or just watch somebody realizing the same action. Among the new tools that translate this knowledge into practical work two measuring devices were presented. Cinemetrics, a computer-generated film data visualisation tool, that measures the intensity of individual units of films, whereas gaze tracking measures of what people pay attention to when they are watching visual media. With the help of other tools, artists can also enhance the already inherent illusionistic character of moving images. One of the processes available to merge 17
the physical and the virtual world together is mapping, whereby the precise photographic copy of a surface, for example a building, is projected over that surface to allow animated manipulations of the texture. Another process is augmented reality, which is the implementation of an interactive holographic or other virtual environment into the physical world, realized for example with the help of Kinect. But the possibilities seem endless and the development of new tools or the restructuring of old ones is a constant work in progress. Two good examples are the reuse of EEG devices as multimedia tools and the development of the Google Glass project. With the potential of these new technologies comes the danger that a primarily good idea could get corrupted, as far as it is suitable to call persuasion tools a good idea. Anyhow, Orwell would have fun in commenting on the current state of society.
What’s wrong with new technology? By Ida Skoko The leading question of the workshop “Breaking bad habits” was “How will technology help us make better films?”, and in my personal opinion, the issue is questionable. We cannot mistake ourselves and see solely hope or potential in technology, and it will bring only development and evolution. Good films are good because of their content, as well as because of the way they were made, but do not depend on technology. It does contribute to adding something extra, but it is not the core. On the other hand, yes, new stuff is very persuasive and very powerful; new possibilities of creating stories exist and why not use them. But how are they used? We see many examples where new technologies are having a bad effect on individuals. Our memory capacity 18
is decreasing, our orientation skills start to depend on the GPS systems, we like fast, snappy news and we find comfort in the screens around us. Television, computer, phone, tablet - internet connected glasses soon? And the majority of the people accepts all these innovations that make themselves necessary and have a strong and direct influence on the quality of our everyday life. I see many positive sides to it, but the problem is, most of the people are not consciously or spiritually strong enough to be in control over their relation with technology. How many people are addicted to Facebook, video games and their computers? Because they canâ€™t keep a balance between virtuality and reality. And these things are stronger than people. They are hypnotizing. I am not against technology and I see much good in it, but there is something inside me that says that this is going against my nature. That by submitting myself to these things I am losing my freedom of thought. They are so powerful and hard to question because they are new. I get information that I didnâ€™t even ask for, and I even like it, I can switch my concentration from tab to tab, jumping from reading about neuroscience to reading about beavers. Imagining a world where you will be reachable constantly, where there will be commercials popping up wherever you look, where you will get instant information about what is happening all around and you are not asked to know anything, because all the information is in the reach of a few clicks: this is frightening, but already happening.
7. NISI MASA and the future of European Film Criticism By Konstanty Kuzma
This winter, Schnitt, a leading German film magazine, announced it would discontinue publishing its print edition in 2013 after 17 years of existence. In January, the announcement was followed by a notice saying the journal would also end its web presence. These statements reflect the European-wide situation in a market where films flourish, but high-quality criticism is struggling to sustain itself. In France the picture may be brighter than in neighbouring Germany, but in a country of 65 million, even the famous Cahiers du Cinema can´t point to more than 30 000 copies sold monthly. At GENERATOR, 14 out of the over 120 participants took part in Generazine - a workshop on film journalism covering the various sections of the event by writing reviews and interviewing key speakers. While the workshop was led by NISI MASA staff, the workshop participants were assisted by two experienced film critics giving advice and feedback: Vladan Petkovic, from Cineuropa, and Clément Gramininies, from Critikat. com. Cineuropa and Critikat.com are built on two distinct financial and political models, but they both give aspiring writers an idea of the state film criticism is in. While the Generazine workshop teaches participants how to write, it also illustrates how difficult being a professional critic in Europe really is.
¨Be independent¨ Clément Gramininies, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Critikat.com, a French online journal, sees the crisis of film criticism as part of a larger problem: the state of the press in the internet age. Though the internet and its universal accessibility have led to a democratisation of journalism, similar to what digital technology did for cinema, the notorious by-product of this development has been an oversaturation of the market and a general decline in journalistic quality (ironically, what has allowed projects like Critikat.com to emerge also gave a platform to less thoughtful and qualitative initiatives). Still, the most visible effects of the internet´s new reign may yet be economic: the discontinuation, in recent months, of Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany) and France Soir (France), two daily newspapers, confirmed the early prognosis of experts that rather than paying for their everyday reads, consumers may seek free alternatives elsewhere. This brings even wor20
se prospects to film criticism, because, as Gramininies argues, criticism provides “opinions and perspectives, not controversial information. It is difficult to give financial value to that nowadays.” To aspiring film critics, Gramininies’ solution to this problem will seem sobering to say the least. Critikat. com´s 40 contributors are all volunteers who earn their living freelancing or working “real life” jobs – including Gramininies himself. Though he says this is in part an ethical decision, as Gramininies “wouldn´t tolerate earning money if my colleagues don´t also do, the prospects of adjusting the budget to 40 paid contributors are poor”, he admits. Critikat.com is practically adfree, its only continuous revenue coming from member fees which are used to cover invoices. To change its web appearance, last year the website raised 6000 Euros from its readers via ulule.com – a French fundraising platform similar to Kickstarter -, a sum that can be explained by the fact that it was the first time the website asked for financial support since it launched, eight years ago. But Gramininies insists he avoids entering commercial partnerships intentionally. “If you loose financial independence, that will also harm your journalistic credibility – we want to be able to say whatever we want. Right now, we don´t have an alternative model for remaining independent than doing our work for free.” With 150 000 readers a month, Critikat.com is one of the top addresses for serious francophone criticism. With philosophical, sociological and political perspectives, the angle of the reviews varies from contributor to contributor, the only common denominators being an argumentative-analytic style and a strong editorial line, a fact that Gramininies is particularly proud of: “It´s both rare and important in a magazine to recognize a strong stance towards films and directors.” Critikat.com lives up to this idea, with its verdicts from passionate approval to categorical dismissal, a rarely honest approach in a subjective matter where fall-outs with the reader are inevitable. But to Gramininies and his colleagues, “the point is not to be in constant agreement with the reader. It´s to convince the reader that your personal viewpoint is justified.” The Rational Alternative Vladan Petkovic, another tutor at the Generazine workshop, is a professional film critic based in Serbia. Apart from contributing to Screen International and Serbian publications, he covers the region of ex-Yugoslavia for Cineuropa, a multilingual online platform 21
with a half-professional half-amateur readership. Though Cineuropa´s staff mainly consists of paid contributors, like Critikat.com, they face the challenge of raising enough money to pay them independently. Limited to the coverage of European cinema, the website is supported by the MEDIA programme, the EU´s audiovisual fund (which, with a budget of Eur 755 million for the period of 2007-2013, constitutes a relatively modest contribution to a cause as important as film criticism). Indeed, Cineuropa´s financial dependence seems to have political implications: Cineuropa covers European films more than it critiques them, with production details and political or social attitudes often concealing the lack of artistic quality in a production. Though Petkovic says he can support a film on Cineuropa through interviews and positive reviews, he admits that editorial lines are beyond his reach. But the crucial question is whether Cineuropa is at all interested in a discernible editorial line: when asked about the problem of editorial lines, Petkovic addressed the possibility of positive attitudes, not negative ones, and it is telling that on Cineuropa the former outnumber the latter unproportionally. Perhaps Cineuropa is too committed to ‘promoting´ European cinema to give an honest account of it, an unfortunate adjustment of a mutual initiative that is promising. Crossroads So what image of film criticism do Generazine participants get? The message is indeed ambiguous. On the one hand, the workshop encourages journalistic independence, on the other hand, this independence seems to be a privilege reserved to those who are already financially independent. With commercial criticism being in the state it is in, film criticism is a discipline dominated by non-professionals. It is conceivable that this will also bring film criticism closer to academia, but this third model for criticism – which is hardly represented within workshop - is not free of its own downsides. Academia is great at contextualizing films, but many academic discussions get tangled up in theories and concepts that disregard the essential question of how good a film is artistically. Typical academic questions can fall wayside of such considerations because they are more focused on explaining objectively than on judging subjectively. Where Europe´s independent-friendly, growing film industry is admirable, we lack a business model to support high-quality, commercially and journalistically independent film criticism. It is true that this is part of the larger problem of journalism in general, which in turn is also part of the more fundamental question of what commercial value intellectual property can and should play in our society, but European film production increasing and estimated yearly admissions being at nearly 1 billion (European Audiovisual Observatory), it would be hypocritical to claim that we lack the resources for good criticism. This is not just a financial problem, but mainly an ethical one: how much money do we want to spare for criticism? The film industry, European ´leaders´ and viewers should ask themselves whether film 22
culture only consists of producing and watching movies, or whether the time for a European critical culture has finally come. And this, I take, is a question a workshop alone wonÂ´t answer.
8. Re-shaping the European cinema landscape via funding By Emilie Toomela
The MEDIA Programme is the European Commission’s programme for the cinema and audiovisual sector as a whole. We spoke with the head of one of the 44 MEDIA desks in Europe, Aurélie Réveillaud (L’Antenne MEDIA Strasbourg) and Aviva Silver, the Head of Unit of the MEDIA Programme. The programme supports audiovisual culture in Europe through its branches in 33 countries. The main target group of MEDIA are professionals working in the media field, who can find funding for cross-European collaborations. Through various trainings and workshops students and other film enthusiast are also supported.
Initiatives of the MEDIA Programme The core value of the MEDIA Programme is to improve the knowledge of cultural diversity through audiovisual mediums. Consequently, they focus on supporting the circulation of European films all over the world. The MEDIA Programme is designed as a measure to open up the internal film market. The intention of stimulating movie circulation serves the purpose of transforming the European audiovisual industry into a true competitor to the dominating U.S. market. Over one thousand films are produced in Europe every year, but a large part of them are not accessible to 24
wider audiences. The second rationale behind the market activation is to make European audiovisual creators known, says Aviva Silver. The MEDIA Programme wishes to develop new European films and festivals and hence gain larger audiences for European cinema. Professionals - the main recipients of MEDIA funds The application criteria for the MEDIA financial funding include a connection with a film company. The applicant needs to be a professional already working in cinema, for instance, for a production company, or for a film festival. Naturally this raises a lot of disappointment for young struggling filmmakers. The rationale behind this principle is the hope of having a greater impact on the market when supporting professionals. This way, the funds they provide would be put to better use in the opinion of the MEDIA members, said our interviewee AurĂŠlie RĂŠveillaud. The programme provides 17 different types of funding. The most consistent funds go to the distribution sector. The central criterion here is to screen movies in many different countries in film theatres or at festivals. The threshold aimed for is having a programme consisting of 70% European films. There are also development funds for producers to use for selling and producing movies in countries other than their own motherland. The same application conditions also go for film festivals. The applicant is supposed to have a European strategy attached to their project. The European strategy means a plan of action for building awareness for European movies worldwide, as well as on the continent.
Nisi Masa is special Taking into account the strictness of the programme, it is especially pleasant to note that Nisi Masa is being supported by one of the MEDIA sub programmes. Nisi Masa consists mostly of young people who are already active in cinematography or hoping to work their way in, but who are not yet professionals. The reason why the organization has been so lucky is that it is a network type of organization. The huge network spreading across Europe serves the same purpose as the MEDIA Programme. Most projects that the MEDIA funds include only one producer or one company. Nisi Masa brings together people from a large number of very different countries and seems to be in good favour in the eyes of the MEDIA executives. Iâ€™m not a professional. What can MEDIA offer me? By and large MEDIA does not support non-professionals, which is probably a disappointment for most members of Nisi Masa. Of course there is always a possibility to take advantage of a production company in your city or a nearby town and ask them to collaborate for the application. The second possibility is to take advantage of the financing that MEDIA offers by joining one of the trainings that MEDIA funds. These smaller programmes include trainings such as the Berlinale Talent Campus. It is a free of charge training, aimed for newcomers in the film industry. The training is very large-scale: yearly 500 young people take part in it. This programme is sort of the hippy cousin of the big bad wolf MEDIA as it is open to all kinds of people. The participants can be interested in various fields connected to cinema â€“ editing, script writing, film criticism, composing music for movies and so on. It takes place during the Berlinale International Film Festival. The reason this training is especially appealing is the fact that the participants will be working together with famous movie directors and producers. 26
Another great programme is the European Short Pitch. It brings together people from different countries to collaborate on creating film projects. The latest edition was still in progress during Generator. Last but not least, there is the Premiers Plans, which is also available free of charge to participants. This is meant for people writing their first feature film. It is a workshop where you can learn about making a full length film. The majority of the participants have been young filmmakers with great ideas but maybe not enough experience. So far MEDIA trainings have been very successful. A large number of participants have continued to work together long after the training is finished and collaborated in film productions, festivals and creating video games. MEDIA will be united into Europe Creative This year is the last for the MEDIA Programme functioning as it has been for the last few years. Starting in 2014 - and planned until end of 2020 - there will be a new facet to the MEDIA programme: Creative Europe. This new entity will unite the various cultural fields such as cinema, music, theatre, dance, etc. The concept will remain the same, support being granted primarily to professionals. However, the focus on non-professionals will be increased. Culture does not have to be accessible only to the elite, so MEDIA will create new initiatives to reach the citizens of the EU directly by working in schools and with children from an early age. The MEDIA programme also shows innovativeness in great interest in the new transmedia projects that will have special attention in the upcoming years.
9. How to successfully submit your film to Festivals in ten points By Silvia Osellini
Have you ever felt that overwhelming sense of frustration generated by sending countless applications over applications without ever receiving even a polite “no, thank you”? Do you feel lost and helpless confronting the tons of film festivals around the world having no clue about which would best suit your style as a director? If the answer to at least one of the preceding questions is “yes”, then this short vade mecum will definitely help you find your way through the difficult task of optimizing your efforts in finding the right festival for your film and not surrender to the winding path and confusing world of film festivals. Russian expert Hanna Mironenko-Usikova, representative of Festagent, a distribution agency specialized in helping Russian film makers to find the right festivals to submit their films, gave a comprehensive seminar on the best strategies to achieve this goal during the Film and Festivals workshop. 1. The first criterion is the length of the film. Try to figure out a complete list including all the festivals which are targeting mostly feature films, short or middle length films. This last category is probably the most problematic one, as sometimes middle length films are either too long to be considered by short film festivals, but, on the other hand, too short for those festivals specialized in features. The best thing is to look for festivals which accept this particular type of film. 28
2. Try to choose the festival according to the genre or category of your film. There are festivals focusing on animation, music videos, fiction, documentaries, etc. 3. Another important aspect to keep in mind is the geographical origin and the language of your film. There are plenty of festivals interested in particular geographical areas or languages. 4. Some festivals just accept films which deal with certain themes. If you succeed in finding festivals which match the main theme of your film, it is more likely that it could be taken into consideration for selection. 5. The author of the film could also be a factor to convince a festival to select your work. There are events which exclusively look for a specific director profile, like for example those targeting women directors. 6. Keep in mind that your film is going to go through different “seasons”: a “high season”, when it is still brand new and is valued by the fact that it can count as a world, international or local premier. This is the moment to push your film as much as possible, as it is more likely to be selected. Once your film has already been selected for a certain number of festivals, it is less and less probable that it will be chosen again as it is entering its “low season”. If your film has not been picked for one or two years after its production, it would be more and more difficult to find a festival willing to accept it, as most events prefer films which have been completed in the year before it takes place. 7. As the main concern of many festivals is to look for premiers, make sure to submit first to the most reputed and important festivals. For sure you don’t want to miss the opportunity to screen your film at a famous festival just because it has already premiered in a lower stage. 8. To determine the real importance of a festival is not a simple task. There are, though, some simple aspects to which you should pay attention: if the festival has a market; an Oscar booster; or it is recognized by FIAPF, this is probably a festival where you should first submit your film. 9. A good organization is crucial for the success of your mission: it is a good and useful idea to create your own database of festivals. Even though there are plenty of them on the internet, it is definitely recommendable to create your personal database with your own criteria. 10. Last but not least it is recommended to always be as precise as possible. Read the regulations carefully and stick to them. Good Luck!
10. Looking for the future of short film distribution By Leila Hamour and Hugo Pascual Bordon
Are we living a revolution in film making? Is the Internet the future of cinema? How do professionals manage with the huge quantity of films being created today all around the world and how do traditional distribution companies manage to survive when free online platforms allow filmmakers to be their own distributors? Nowadays this is one of the main dilemmas the film industry needs to address: the ways to deal with more and more media products being created through technological innovation. NISI MASA felt it was about time to address this situation and help develop our understanding of the sector through a Distribution and Sales Seminar. Four short-film professionals were invited to talk about the current European situation in the distribution and sales sector: Gaia Meucci, programmer of Encounters Short and Animation Film Festival in Bristol; Hannes Brühwiler from Interfilm in Berlin; Ron Dyens from Sacrebleu Productions in Paris; and Alexandra Haneka from the Sales Department at KurzfilmAgentur in Hamburg. Short film circuits and strategies Distribution is the process through which a film is made available to audiences. Before the Internet era, short films could only travel around the world with the support of traditional structures such as movie theatres, film festivals and markets. Now, short films can obtain wider recognition, being screened at film festivals around the world gaining a broader coverage with new media technologies. The possibility 30
for filmmakers to make their own work available to the public completely modified the traditional distribution process. They can use new media platforms such as Daily Motion, You Tube or Vimeo (to name a few). Being able to distribute their own product, artists have become increasingly less depend on the good will of producers, distributors and festival programmers. As Gaia Meucci shared with the audience of the seminar, the Internet is now the most accessible and popular form to endorse short films because them being online made them accessible to everybody with just a click, and perhaps most importantly, for free. Traditional distribution processes are at risk. It is important to try to understand the actual dynamics in short film distribution in order to put the situation in perspective and fully identify the new challenges distributors have to deal with to adapt to the changes brought along by innovation. When distributing short films it is necessary to have a strategy from the beginning of the project, just like for a feature film- where professionals know from day one what to expect from the film. The first step is to define the genre of the production so that you can target the appropriate audience and find the most efficient way to promote it. According to Hannes Br端hwiler, traditional distribution is still considered a strong medium in Germany, thanks to the involvement of the government in the matter. He explained that support for short film production in Germany comes mainly from a special circuit in movie theatres. He personally does not use free platforms to distribute his projects because the more exclusive the short film is, the more value it gets, especially in finacials terms. On the other hand French movie theatres, like most around the world, have made the choice to broadcast advertising instead of short films before screening features. As Ron Dyens, director of Sacrebleu Productions, reminded us, this situation highlights the important support provided by the television sector in France. ARTE, Canal Plus or France 2 provide valuable aid to distributors by buying and offering 31
coverage to shorts programmes. Equally important is the fact that in order to expand the scope of broadcasting, TV channels also have been creating structures where media products are made available through their websites and Video On Demand (VOD) services. Having said that, VOD in particular, still needs a lot of development in order to turn it into a financially viable alternative for distributing these works. The traditional distribution industry cannot ignore for much longer the immense possibilities that are available free of charge through the Internet. Particularly important is the fact that these alternatives create opportunities to promote productions that donâ€™t usually get financed via traditional institutions. BrĂźhwiler admits free platforms and social networks are great instruments to track new trends by allowing a direct contact with new audiences. For Roy Dyens it is possible to make the best out of these new free tools. Platforms give multiple benefits, like the opportunity to introduce the filmmakers he collaborates to a wider audience. This is particularly important as in many cases the actual value of a short film depends on how famous the filmmaker actually is. Unfortunately, at the same time, it drastically increases competition within a traditionally closed film industry. Tradition within innovation New media have made their way in the film business at a very fast pace. But it is still too soon to understand those changes in their entirety. Even if free platforms have revolutionized the broadcasting industry, traditional methods of distribution are still very important when it comes to funding short films. Overall, if technological innovation changes the distribution landscape in some measure, distributors can use it to their advantage by increasing the value of their work. For now at least, the new and the old distribution paths are complementary and guarantee a positive and diverse future for short film distribution. 32
11. The art of co-productions by Mirona Nicola
“It is not so much the creative decisions that are overtaken by business decision, but rather that business decisions in film have become a highly creative process in their own right. (…) maybe the real art in film today is to get it financed.” (Morawetz, Hardy, Haslan & Randle, 2007, pp. 441) The film industry is confronted, by nature, with a high degree of uncertain demand which, considering the high cost of production brings along significant risks. This is why a form of clustering is considered viable and even desirable. While Hollywood exemplifies a local cluster formed in the attempt to overcome this problem, in Europe co-productions (which can be considered ‘temporary clusters’) are more common. The practice was initiated in the 50s, with France and Italy uniting forces to rebuild their cinematographic industries after World War II. Through the years they became more specific for small film industries with little market potential. These types of associations involve multiple countries that have various amounts of market-power in the film industry, different legal systems, as well as a lot of variation in the size of the industry itself. Both official and informal agreements in this situation have a great deal to do with the way risk is spread, considering the participants’ risk profiles (either risk seeking or risk averse). In Europe it is typical for the state to provide safeguarding through subsidies, meaning that it takes most of the responsibility at the benefit of other investors.
In Europe there has been a constant increase in average film budget, though still lagging much behind Hollywood. This is part of the reason why co-productions have become almost a necessity. In general there is a high investment risk for European films because of unfavourable box-office positions and also because of the reversed order in which money is recouped (with the producer being last in line). The fact that European films by large under-perform at the box office is partly caused by fragmentation at multiple levels, including language and policy. This leads to high costs of transaction and enforcement that greatly increase the overall cost of the film. The landscape of European cinematography is characterized by two important elements. Firstly, the high risk leads to extensive government dependence. The situation is further complicated by the fact that policies are issued at both national and EU level and they often lead to tensions. In order to ease these conflicts, the national policies gradually gained more importance, while the EU assumes mostly a complementary role. It cannot be denied that policies and interventions at various levels have increased production and this was partly due to encouraging co-productions. They account for about 30% of the film production in Europe (31 countries). The countries that are most often involved in co-producing are (in this order) France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. These larger industries in general are able to put forward more projects, but they are relatively less likely to receive funding. Their role is mainly that of providing opportunities for lesser known, but nevertheless talented directors. This might be beneficial creatively, but from the industry point of view it does not account for a benefit: co-productions are proven not to generate bigger profit than single-country productions, though it might be the case that they benefit of broader distribution. Tax incentives offered by European countries create an inflow of capital that provides increased leverage (use of credit or borrowed capital to increase the earning potential) and this ultimately allows for more funds to be spread around. Yet tax incentives can also have the effect of attracting more capital even from risk-averse investors and this sudden abundance of funds can lead to capital itself being a motivation for production. But where does the money come from? In 2005, all across Europe (31 countries) there were 182 government-backed support institutions for cinematography. To access the funds they offered since their creation (deemed ‘soft money’) projects had to prove basically that they weren’t commercially viable; then again, that is the very issue that causes Europe’s lag in the international market (‘the subsidy trap’).
However, in the mid-1990s, there was a gradual re-evaluation of the support offered, trying to consider the need for commercial success; aims shifted from ‘protecting the national culture’ to ‘building the local industry’. With this, the role of institutions also changed- they don’t only provide financing, but they also started getting involved in promotion and marketing. While co-production agreements can come with certain obligations (such as using local talent or local labour force in general or spending a certain share of the budget in the local economy) nevertheless competition between countries in terms of offering incentives keeps the ‘soft money’ coming and this encouraged co-productions. Needless to say, the multiple financing sources creates a tangled web of contractual clauses which greatly complicate the already difficult mission of a film producer. When involved in a co-production, the producer is often busier with managing contracts (with lawyers, accountants or government bureaucrats) than with actually producing the movie. Involving multiple countries, professional with diverse skills and cultural backgrounds, as well as potentially offering more funding opportunities, film co-productions seem to have as many drawbacks as they have benefits. Legally and practically the mission of producers is rendered more complex, almost to the point that it could be stated that they need to develop a specific set of skills in order to tackle all the issues that can raise.
Sources: Dale, M. (1997). The Movie Game. The Film Business in Britain, Europe and America. London: Cassell De Vinck, S. (2009). Europudding or Europaradise? A performance evaluation of the Eurimages co-production film fund, 20 years after its inception. Communications, 34. 257-285 Morawetz, N. Hardy, J. Haslan, C. Randle, K. (2007). Finance, policy and industrial dynamics- the rise of co-productions in the film industry. Industry and Innovation 14(4). 421-443
12. Generator that generates falling in love again... with movie making By Florentina Bratfanof
I came to GENERATOR to network, attend lectures and watch some short films in the evenings. And also mostly to put myself into a rhythm of writing â€“ rhythm rather lost in my everyday duties back home, but nothing worked as I planned. Stay tuned, as in fact it got better. After the first day of meeting the Generazine coordinators (Luisa Riviere, Severine Beaudot and Mirona Nicola), I also planned to attend some different workshops related to the film industry: culture management; sessions about distribution of shorts; about systems of financing and ways to get funds; films festivals; and last but not least, to observe a Kino Kabaret group making a short movie in a very short period of time. I started with the last thing and I was drawn into participating in the Generator Kino Kabaret. The process was impressive and rapidly evolving. With the inspiring thoughts and directing of Simon Bonanni, with the help of Cornelia Iordache, both actually participants of the workshop, we were able to write down a concept and four scenes, find a cameraman, create a call sheet and the right timing for shooting and also shoot everything in an entire night, from 7pm to 12pm. The first idea was to create a story around different secret and hidden beautiful 36
places in Strasbourg and somehow get the characters to show them to us. Soon we agreed not to make a documentary, but a short fiction, so Simon had the initiative to make something about the impossibility of being involved again in another relationship. Somehow the ideas mixed but our collaborative process was smoothly evolving because we found ourselves on the same page and we were very willing to really make a movie, so we found the magic in the making. Actually, we ended up shooting one interior scene, in the pub La Taverne, and three exterior scenes in three wonderfully built old bridges in Strasbourg. I will vividly remember the spots, the lights of the city – the only ones available to us, because we didn’t have any extra light, and the sound of the wind – a character in itself – very present in the scene at the first bridge. Closer to the end of the shooting it began to snow and the perspective of shooting the last scene surrounded by snowflakes gave something magical to the whole process. Then, on the last day of GENERATOR we were able to edit everything and finish a 6 minutes short film: FRANCESCA. So the Generator Kino Kabaret generated a great encounter, based on our mindset and spontaneity for finding creative and logistic solutions, creating a fruitful team work.