Monday’s Talent Feedback Sessions enabled a selection of young filmmakers to receive top level guidance and support from a stable of industry experts. In the main these experts were also young and not so far advanced in their career, and therefore highly conversant with the needs, fears and frustrations of the new talents.
The format is simple. The talent sits silently as the table discusses their project plan. After twenty minutes they are invited to reflect on what they have heard and to respond with questions of their own.
“This process is acted out on four tables,” stresses Dorien van de Pas, Head of New Screen NL at the Netherlands Film Fund and the Dutch representative at Eurimages.
“Sometimes you get the same reflection from all the tables so you know that there is something tangible for the talents to react to, or sometimes they are completely different comments. Obviously they feel vulnerable when sharing their ideas so we try to create a safe environment for them, and also it is very important that they start to develop their network here. It’s not all about the plan, the experts were constructive in addressing this aspect of their HFM attendance as well.”
Filmmaker Anna Berlis didn’t quite know what to expect but found the experience exhilarating. “I didn’t know that they were going to put you outside the box, and talk about the plan as if you are not there. That feels a little uncomfortable at first but I think this way makes it really valuable because they can say everything that they think of, uninterrupted, before I give an answer.”
Her project concerns a farmer’s daughter who wants to go away to study but whose father wants her to take over the farm on her 18th birthday, which is itself marked by the ritual slaughter of a chicken.
“The experts gave me a lot of new insights, one being to get it all down on the page. I expect the reader to know everything that is in my head,” Berlis comments, adding, “It was nice to hear that people like my story, were getting excited and want to know more about it.”
Expert Ashar Medina (screenwriter) reflected on the event. “For me, feedback is a mirror on what you are trying to tell with your story. For us, the most we can do is not tell the talents what their story should be but to ask questions, mostly about their intentions. As a writer I also get a lot of feedback and what sometimes happens is that people take things out of your plan or your synopsis or your treatment and say ‘this doesn’t work and needs to be this or that’, instead of going to the core of it and asking ‘why is it that?’ So what I try to do is to go to the core and really try to discover why they started telling the story and what it is about this story or this character that they want to say.”
“There were a couple pf stories that were really elaborate and visually interesting, talking about lenses and 4K, and the script was very descriptive about what we are going to see, but not yet what we were supposed to feel,” Medina continues. “Also some were doubting their endings. Does the character spread her wings or does she stay caged? I think when they pinpoint which the two they want to tell, or which rings more true, then they will find their direction more easily.”
Written by Nick Cunningham