where the air is full of Ambition and Possibility
WHERE THE AIR IS FULL OF AMBITION AND POSSIBILITY
MakersvoorMakers – Coaching meetings between industry advisors and fiction and documentary filmmakers
25th September 2011 by Binger Reporter Matthew Curlewis
It’s a gorgeously clear, warm Sunday, a rarity in Holland, and people with regular week-day jobs are flocking to parks and beaches in droves. In Utrecht however, the Netherlands Film Festival is in full swing, and Makers for Makers, a festival highlight according to some participants, is about to commence.
In the main room of this year’s new, more spaciously designed Festival Pavilion, 27 participants with 21 projects between them (12 feature and 9 documentary) will meet for an hour long conversation with 21 industry advisors, comprised of writers, directors, producers and script editors. And then, in a new innovation for this year, after a small break the tables will shuffle and participants will get a second meeting with a different advisor.
Passing by an aptly placed banner from the Binger’s new branding platform reading: “Wanted. Foolishly optimistic individuals to pursue impossible dreams”, participants and experts settle in at tables, timers are set, and the work discussions begin in earnest.
A combined initiative of the Festival itself, the Dutch Film Fund and the Binger, this year marks the fourth iteration of MakersvoorMakers. The participants have been pre-selected from treatments they’ve submitted, but only discover which advisors they’ll be meeting with right before their meeting. This keeps lobbying and any unnecessary politics to a minimum, and also infuses the air with a sense of urgency and energy.
Filmmaker Ineke Smits had to miss last year’s Makers because of a work conflict, but is back this year for her third time volunteering as one of the industry advisors. “The thing is, I read a lot of scripts for organisations¬ – like the Hubert Bals Fund, and some others – but it’s only on a very rare occasion that you’ll actually get to discuss one of those scripts with its author. What I love about the process here is that you can ask questions that open up pathways and opportunities, and then right in front of you during this interaction you see a project grow – you get to witness this rapid advancement.”
Philip Rachid is participating for his first time, having submitted a treatment for a transmedia concept. “Storytelling isn’t traditional any more,” he comments. “Even three year olds are using their parents iPads, stories are being conveyed in different ways. Today I had two wonderful, but very different meetings,” he enthuses with a beer in the terrace sunshine afterwards. “In the first I got really practical advice on my actual presentation, on the order I present things in – which was really useful – and then in the second meeting we dug more into the contents of the proposal itself.”
Sander de Regt, a third time participant, is convinced MakersvoorMakers is the best event at the festival. “The high standard of the advisors you get to meet with here is incredible. Last year I was paired with Ben Sombogaart (director of The Storm and current release Isabelle) – there’s no way I would ever have contacted him on my own! And this year’s meetings? Oh, they were great – and confusing,” he muses, with a chuckle. “I came here with two storylines I couldn’t decide between – and I’m leaving with a third, entirely new one! Both advisors were great though at getting me to focus on what approach I want to take – that’s what’s important at this early stage, rather than any details and mechanics of the story itself.”
Writer actor Franky Ribbens wishes MakersvoorMakers had been available when he was starting out his career. “You can just feel the energy and ambition of these projects,” he exclaims, gesturing towards the recently vacated meeting room. “And it’s right here, surrounded by the atmosphere of the festival. Great. I had two very different projects in my meetings, but both writers were very open to the process of the discussion. For one, my advice was to spend some more time on their research, on gathering their background material – they were already leaping too far ahead of themselves. But nevertheless in the space of only an hour, changes began to occur in their project.”
Editor director Julia Strijland was attending for her first time, with a proposal for a new documentary project, plus the hope of discussing a different documentary she is still shooting. “It’s been very inspiring. Part of it, for me, is that I need to make some industry contacts. I’m doing this alone as a director and editor, but for instance need to understand how to make myself known to organisations like Mediafonds. I’ve received some very practical advice on this, and then my second advisor was actually an editor, who took my dvd with him and is going to give me some feedback on the edit so far of my current project. Wonderful!”
Given the great weather, and easy, informal access to top-rate individuals from the industry, smack in the middle of the bustling Festival Pavilion, it turns out that optimism isn’t so foolish after all, and that given the right advice dreams can actually get flipped from being impossible – to being realizable.