Berlinale 2012: Wrapup

The Berlinale 2012 Wrapped up and the Golden Bear went to Italian Documenary „Cesar Must Die“, by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. The Film follows the staging of Shakespeare´s Julius Ceaesar at the Rebbibia maximum security prison in Rome by its immates.

For me, this Berlinale was not about the films screened, but about the panels at the Talent Campus.

The only film I went to see was Iron Sky which I must say impressed me for its visuals and production design. Yes, the acting and dialogues are weak at times, but the witty political sarcasm and the fun of the visuals makes it an entertaining night at the cinemas. And hey, if you know the story behind the production and understand what a laughable Budget of 7,5 million Euros for this kind of films is, from which 1 million was crowd funded, then it makes a hell of a story for independent filmmakers around the world.


The first panel I visited was „Kill your darlings“ with editor and lecuturer Susan Korda. Her talk was based on Walter Murch´s book „In the blink of an eye“ in which he discusses the hiererchy of a cut.

Illustrating her and his point with scenes of Bonnie and Clyde, she discussed how Walter Murch puts on the top of its hiererchy the „emotional cut“ stating how continuity is an overrated reason for obsessed editors in creating an „iinvisible cut“ in detriments of an important moment, reaction and overall emotional effect. In the end the moral is what she likes to refer as her catch phrase „What works, works“, encouraging editors to go with their guts and really evaluate shots and scenes for their meaning and not for mistakes that need to be covered.

The „Directing scripts, Editing Stories“ panels brought German director Volker Schlöndorf, Lars Von Trier´s editor Molly Malene and Chinese writer Yan Geling to the chairs. I couldn´t get much out of this talk since it simply went as a chat of crafts from all three and less than real tips or discussing techniques.

We saw fragments of the Tin Drum and Schlöndorf told some anecdotes about it and said that he can´t work without getting involved in the writing process. Malene explained that the editing process with Von Trier is a very meticulous one and they start after wrapping up photography wathicng all the material. And Geling said how different it is to write for a novel as it is for a script.

Then came the really long named Cross Media sessions („The Indie Filmmaker´s guide to Cross-Media: Engaging 21st century audiences across multiple platforms) part I and II. And that´s when things got exciting for me.

The first of the panels had ARTE France comissioner Michel Reilhac, Swedish transmedia pioneer Martin Elriscsson and IDFA Doclab´s Caspar Sonnen.


Reilhac discussed how Arte is pioneering what TV networks should be putting their eyes on, as in funding cross media projects that live outside the TV screen. Partnering with new media producers, designers and filmmakers they encourage young producers to think out of the box and create new engagement programmes across platforms. For him, we are now at the end of the hype in terms what the word corssmedia or transmedia means and at the beginning of the real flesh of the matter, where projects are finally bieng made and tested in front of audiences. The real challenges lie in the funding and monitizing mechanisms which are not clear for anyone, but Arte is willing to risk it and fund projects that fall out of the TV box.


Then Elricsson presented their exciting „The truth about Marika“ project which they launched a couple of years back in Sweden. A combination of a TV series broadcassted by swedish public network, was combined with a real life „game“ that engaged audiences in a Multi Platform experience that captured thousands of hard core fans in an exciting project that bended the limits of fiction and reality. He also stressed out that producers should use already available platforms for their projects to cut costs in developing cross media content.

Sonnen presented the challenges and possibilites that documetarians face in the 21st centruy presenting a canadian project named Bear 71 in which an interactive platform makes it possible to follow the fate of Grizzly bears.

He introduced new genres that are emerging like Interactive Web-docunemtaries, Web Series, Multimedia Photostory, Participatory and collaborative sotrytelling, Serious games and ARG, Remix and Mashup Projects, etc.

He gave also a few tips to create good projects by telling complicated stories using a simple interface and not the other way around, to use interaction to create a personal narrative and use the interface as an artistic device.

The question on the panel was mainly, how to financially sustain all this projects and how to monetize the experiences. All concurred that these are all new territories and no one has answers which makes it all a fertile ground to experiment and find solutions on the way.

The second part of the panesl saw Iron Sky director Timo Vuorensola and Group Sre´s Jigar Mehta.

Vuorensola presented of course his Iron Sky scheme in engaging audiences to create his film. A 6 year process that included a three way plan to make people participate in Crowd Funding, Crowd Sourcing or Crowd Investing.

Crowd Funding would utilize small donations in exchange of perks that ranged from t-shirts, cups or dvd-pro orders that formed a small chunk of the funding pie. Crowd Investing required a bigger financial commintemt for the general public, but having in return financial participation in case the film produces profit. These formed a bigger chunk of the finantial cake which was completed by the biggest chunk through traditional funding schemes with equity investment, financial institutions, government film funding plans and co-productions (Finland-Germany-Australia).

Even though the crowd funding-investing part of the scheme only represented 1 Miliion € out of the 7,5 Million total budget, Vuronsuela explains that it was the engagement of his audience and the rumble they produced what convinced other investors to jump in and believe in the project.

Mehta then introduced and amazing documentary project called „18 days in Egypt“ in which through a web interface, people would tell their own stories during the 18 day Egiptian revolution that culminated in the resignation of president Mubarak. Through his interface people can create streams to tell a specific part of a story relate to the events. By compiling youtube videos, flicker images, tweets, facebook statuses, phots and text, a timeline is created with these material to interactively form pieces of the bigger puzzle. This puts the people as protagonists of their own story and makers of their own film, an interactive and endless film.

This amazing project is best to experience live on the web than explained in a few words, so visit their website to get a glimpse of their story and watch this trailer:


The last panel I visited was a master class by this year´s international Jury president Mike Leigh.

This talk was a real eye opener in terms of filmmaking process and inspiration. Mike Leigh explained his creative process consisting mainly

in improvisational exercises to develop a character and situations. He doesn´t write a script before hand but he does extensive rehearsals and writes a script once he gets on location with his developed characters. He does extensive preparation to find the world of the film and sometimes he doesn´t even know how a film will end until he gets there.

He talked about how hard it is for him to find funding because of his way of work. How does he approaches investors and producers without a script. His answer was that during the early days of the BBC they needed directors to create content for their channels. Having worked in theater he came on board to direct TV movies where he started to develop his creative process and because of his track record he was able to establish trust relationships that permit him to convince investors to give him money without even knowing what the film is about. He left us with an important lesson: Never compromise, do what you believe in.



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About xagudo

Xavier Agudo is a Berlin-based Venezuelan filmmaker.