The day kicks off with a lecture about the Berlinale Co-Production market. Described as a facility for putting together financiers and filmmakers, this is something that you apply for before the festival and it sets up two days of meetings about your project.
Again this is something that requires one to be a lot farther along than myself. For a start you need a full and fully developed script, they prefer you to have some money already in place and, like the MEDIA schemes, it is only open to companies which are already established and have a track record of at least one theatrical release feature. There is also a strand open to current and former members of the Talent Campus, this is easier to get into in terms of requirements, but you still have to get selected for the Talent Campus first.
This talk is perhaps the best I’ve attended, certainly in terms of practical advice about getting my film made. Although they’re talking about something specific, the lecture is packed full of great advice about trying to get a co-production started and also pitching in general. The resounding advice for me, I think, is that timing is everything -don’t try and pitch a project before it’s ready. If you do and then you try and pitch it later down the line, people will have already heard about it rattling around markets and festivals for a while, they’ll assume something is wrong with it, they won’t even read a page, they just won’t touch it.
Although my project is developed as a story, this lecture again highlights the gap between where it needs to be as a film package and where it is now. It’s in some ways hard to hear but the fact is -I need to hear this and further more I need to act on what I’m hearing. Lot of work to do back in old Albion then.
In the afternoon I attend my last Talent Campus lecture, a discussion with Sharon Lockhart. Lockhart is essentially a fine artist working with film and photography. She wins me over instantly by showing a picture of one of her biggest influences, John Casavettes (he’s one of my favourite filmmakers).
It has to be said that her work is absolutely stunning and along with the two moderators and the audience an incredibly interesting and intellectual discussion ensues.
The only problem here is that, being fine artists, they’re not exactly zinging off the stage with presence and charisma. It’s more like a muffled and slightly apologetic conversation between friends -which is also kind of refreshing, I guess. Lockhart is also highly regarded by certain members of the audience and the moderators and we get a little stuck sometimes by people trying to ask the most intelligent and ingratiating question.
After that we head to see a film, my first from competition, Katalin Varga. Directed by Englishman Peter Strickland, the film is an intense exploration of morality, guilt and justice. Strickland apparently got so sick of the funding situation in his native country that he went to Romania and made his film on a tiny budget there instead. It’s a clear level up from anything I’ve seen so far, as you would expect from a film in competition, and the lead performance is completely engrossing. There are a few problems here and there, for example I felt the character of Katalin’s son was underdeveloped, but the film is pretty fantastic.
To round the evening off we head to the Shooting People party at a famous old club called Tresor. Geoff manages to work some magic and -oh dear – it’s another free drinks situation, things get fairly silly fairly quickly.
I meet a great couple from London. He’s a very established editor and she’s a comedy producer taking part in the Berlinale co-production market. Co-incidence? I think not. We take advantage of the free bar and I take advantage of the opportunity to get some advice about co-productions. Then we all go and dance to cheesey techno like only sweaty, ungainly, English people can.
Posted by Max Sobol
(image: John Casavettes )
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