Today was the first day of the festival and honestly -there wasn’t a lot going on. There were very few screenings, the biggest being Tom Tykwer’s opener The International. Rather the day is mostly spent gearing up for the festival; people arrive, check into hotels, receive accreditations and generally scope things -and each other -out. I’m sure there’s some big opening night party happening somewhere, but I’m just as sure that I won’t be invited so we’ll skip that.
I wake up later than intended and quietly pick my way through the still sleeping bodies of my room mates.
Regarding myself in the mirror it occurrs to me that I’m not exactly looking like a man you would trust with £400,000. In fact, I look a bit like Shaggy’s homeless cousin -as in Scooby-Doo not Mr Boombastic -who the mystery gang keep telling Shaggy not to invite because he’s making them look bad. Damn those pesky kids!
After a conference with my Eterny [sic] I decide to get a haircut. A quick check on finances tells me that it’ll have to be homemade and after struggling with the scissors for a while I convince my designer-in-chief, who also designed my business cards, identity and website to come and have a chop. Branding in the extreme.
Half an hour later I emerge from the bathroom looking certainly more respectable, but also somehow like a small child that has been taken to the barber’s by a stern mother who wants him to fit in at school. Frankly I’m just not very good at looking respectable -never have been -I’ll just have to play the ‘Arty’ card instead, always a dangerous move as it wreaks of ‘Flakey’ and ‘Unprofessional’.
You may wonder why I’m banging on about my hair-cut so much, but this represents the final part of a process that has lasted the whole of this last month and some time before -it’s the final stage of preparation before entering the Lion’s Den (not to be confused with the ‘Dragons’ Den’). Therefore, I guess now would be as good a time as any to impart my rough guide to getting ready for an adventure such as this. Apart from the obvious; jockstrap, goggles, kneepads -I can only offer you what perspective my limited experience has afforded me but I hope it will be of some use.
**GO TO Max Sobol’s Filmmaker’s Guide to Preparedness at Film Festivals to find out more**
Ah! Much better. So, back to the Lion’s Den. I head down in the late afternoon to get my pass for the European Film Market. I get off the U Bahn and surface into Potsdammer Platz; the whole place is awash with festival goers, hung with red Berlinale festival bags like mobile Christmas decorations. I make my way past them and out to the apendage that holds the EFM a few hundred yards away. More bags, more festival goers, only meaner looking ones with a frightening air of self importance. Head down -don’t make eye contact. After 45 minutes or so and the afore mentioned â‚¬120 I have a laminated pass around my neck -the picture makes me look like an albino aubergine -and am walking into the inner sanctum.
The Market is held in a lofty hall with ornate ballastrades and marble steps; it’s fancy. It has a strange layout compared to the typical open hall that I was expecting, it essentially works like an onion; with a bar/cafÃ© at the centre (priorities!) and a two story warren of stands that circle around the edge. I circle around the edge. I check out who is where, pick up leaflets, booklets, magazines and then look down on the open bar area from upstairs.
Sitting in the bar I flick through the details of the exhibitors present at this years Market; each company has mug shots of the staff that will be representing them; crack-heads, thugs, pimps, ladies of the night. Okay I admit it -I’m just scared. I do some research and make a list of appropriate companies based on: their nationality, the type of films they produce, the scale of productions they deal with, the feel of their blurb and of course whether they actually deal with production rather than just sales and distribution. I find about 10 candidates that are worth a shot and look up their details. This is a list I’d hope to buld on once I start schmoozing. Tomorrow, I make first contact. Until then I’ll just sit back, drink a beer and feel insignificant in the middle of this vast cathedral to cinema.
p.s. Tomorrow I promise to actually talk about some of the films, I’ll also drivvel on about how much I love Tilda Swinton, the head of this year’s jury and I’ll even upload some of that video/photographic content I promised. Boom!
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