Emerging Dutch screenwriting and directing talents were given the opportunity September 29 to hear expert feedback on their current scripts and film plans. Attendees were also encouraged to make the most of the networking opportunities that the event, and NFF Professionals in general, has to offer.
By: Nick Cunningham
The event was fruitful for young filmmaker Carlijn Fransen who was receiving feedback on her De Onopvallende Gast (working title) which she describes as “somewhere on the border between film and fine art” and designed to “shake the audience.”
“For me it is also an opportunity to get to know the Dutch film industry a bit better because I come from an art academy, and I am looking for a producer,” she underlines. “The reception was good. It was nice that they said all the things that I already kind of knew, which means that you are on the right path in a way. They pointed out the exact things that I myself am a little worried about or working on. It was good confirmation for me, and they helped in giving me names of people I could contact to help me, and to find a producer who would dare to risk making this very ambitious film.”
Likewise, emerging scriptwriter Roel van Eijk, here to discuss his “absurdist” screenplay about an ADHD-suffering crematorium director who descends into “emotional decay”, was eager to act immediately on the advice he received. Feedback focussed on making his narrative more cinematically vivid, and to energise his central character. “The advice was given from a very human perspective. Now I want to get all the mess out of it [the script]. The experience was fruitful not just for the feedback but especially for the network opportunities and the professional recommendations I am receiving.”
Junior producer Emma Kuijper (DOXY) was in attendance to get to know new talents as her documentary-driven company is looking to extend its remit to fiction. “I found it really diverse, the ideas are all very different, and talking about new film plans is always good. It is good to develop together and talk about how the visions of more and more people (can be combined).
“It is interesting to hear what the experts and moderators are saying about the projects, as they have a different view from me both about the script and the whole package,” she adds, underlining how such experiences develop her opinions of, and approach to, film plans. “I am also learning (from the experience).”
Screenwriter Jeroen Scholten van Asschat also underlined how an event such as this works for professional talents who haven’t taken the standard path through film school. “The networking possibilities here are very important. If you graduate from the film academy you already have a network, but if you don’t have then it is more of a problem. The film world within the Netherlands is a village. If you are in it you know everyone, but if you are on the outside then it is difficult to get in. “But I saw a participant today (who hadn’t gone to film school) who was introduced to a producer immediately after the talent meeting. This introduction is already the first step on her future trajectory.”
Moderator Dorien van de Pas, head of New Screen NL at the Netherlands Film Fund, was enthusiastic about her first participation at the event. “The thing I really like about this concept is that it is a very small, very safe environment for these young talents who feel very vulnerable pitching their new projects and asking for feedback both on their plans and on the style. They also received suggestions about which other people could be interesting for them to get in touch with, such as producer and writers.”
“I moderated one table with six different projects and I could see that the feedback was great from the experts, very honest and arrived at often by raising straightforward questions on the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’. Also I felt from the young talents that there were a lot of questions that they were not aware of, because they haven’t developed an advanced sense of reflection yet. This was maybe the first time that they would have spoken about their projects to people other than their close friends… Because of my Fund background I could also give feedback on film lengths as required for festivals and funding. That helped a lot.”
Leading Dutch producer Hans de Wolf takes up the theme. “We had talks on a number of feasible projects. Content-wise and artistically they were good, but there is a practical thing which can be complicated. One person said that their’s was a feature film project of 90 minutes, and then I am thinking ‘why not a short of 9 minutes?’, and the people are a little shocked, a little offended. So it is good to listen (at this kind of event) as it is about how practical you want to be… This event is a very effective tool and up to now we have picked talents who are now making some big films.” He cited the example of Floor van der Meulen whose documentary Storming Paradise his company KeyDocs produced in 2014. (Her feature debut Methusalem, produced by Dutch production house Keplerfilm, is selected for this year’s Boost NL).
“There is a lot of talent present here,” he continues. “But an event like this has also to do with the practical [aspect] of whether you are willing to work in a producer/writer/director team? Also content-wise, what is the film about? Does it work? These are the more exciting kinds of question that are asked here.”