This February our Head of Industry Amos Geva took part in the prestigious Berlinale Talents programme, a talent development programme that explores the how and why of movie making. The programme describes itself as “a one-of-a-kind forum for film professionals and cinema lovers alike, featuring public talks, discipline-specific workshops, project development Labs and networking events.”
We caught up with Amos to find out more about his experience in the programme, what he learned, and his advice for upcoming filmmakers who would also like to take part.
Hi Amos, how are you?
Mostly good, and we’re working to make the rest better too! 🙂 One of my best friends always replies like this, and I decided to adapt it for today.
Firstly, would you mind talking us through the process of applying for Berlinale Talents – what drove you to want to take part and what was the application process like?
Life has funny ways sometimes. I’ve been aware of the programme for many years, and used to think it’s more relevant for directors, actors, DOPs, you know – the more “on set” part of the industry. I even applied once when I was a fresh graduate from film school and didn’t get selected, in hindsight I’m thankful for that because things have their time and it simply wasn’t the right one back then.
Florian Weghorn, Programme Manager of Berlinale Talents mentioned to me that this year’s focus was on the idea of Audience Design, which I find crucial to the industry. This was part of a relatively new section under the “Market Studio”, for industry professionals who bring films to an audience – like distributors, sales agents, producers, festival programmers, and so on.
I also understood that the program had shifted from very “young,” just-out-of-film-school participants, to slightly more experienced people who already had a feature or two under their belt. I figured – why not apply?
Once I went through the application process I realised it was a perfect match with this year’s headline: “Humour in Serious Times.” It was like a sign that it was for me, so I applied.
How did it feel to know you’d qualified?
Great, truly great. My very first big international film festival experience was at Berlinale in 2014 and it opened my mind to so many different new ideas, concepts, people and approaches, much of which has led me to where I am today; It was great circle closure.
What was the programme like itself, what kinds of events and meetings were you attending?
To sum up in one word – Intense. As part of the Market Studio you are not only a festival participant but also a market participant at the European Film Market (EFM) and at some point you start to feel like a ping-pong ball heading back and forth. But one needs strong legs to make the most of a festival, and the proof for that is on my step tracker during Berlinale which averaged at around 10K a day.
The events ranged from the studio workshops where we discussed the different aspects of audience design, both within our group but also with guest professionals like the World Cinema Fund, to events open to the public like talks and masterclasses with Cate Blanchett, Ruben Ostlund, John Malkovich and more…(All of which can be viewed online here).
What was a highlight?
There were so many, it’s really hard to pick one out, so I guess I’ll just stick to the general sensation of being able to meet face-to-face with film talents from all aspects of the industry, and from all corners of the world.
I know it almost seems obvious, but thinking back to just two to three years ago, when it wasn’t possible to meet people from around the corner, now meeting people from countries I wouldn’t even be able to travel to is simply magic. The most amazing thing about it is, how much we have in common despite so many different approaches, cultures, and backgrounds.
What is an important thing you learned from this experience?
While these times call for many artists, filmmakers, and even just anyone living under very difficult times to act with bravery, being brave isn’t only about doing something dangerous, but also about having faith that what you do matters.
People will doubt what you do, they will doubt why and how you do it. While you shouldn’t be deaf to all advice – the ability to filter the constructive feedback that understands what you are trying to do, from the negative feedback that just doesn’t get what your end goal is – is a priceless ability that one must sharpen and work on endlessly.
In a way this also requires a certain level of not taking yourself or your work too seriously and being able to look at it with humour and a smile.
Would you recommend this experience to a young filmmaking professional? Why?
In one word – YES. In 2 words – it depends 🙂
As is in many things in life, the question isn’t only IF this is right for me, but also, WHEN is this right for me. I think this isn’t unique to Berlinale Talents, it can be said about any training and development platform out there.
The key is to be able to honestly assess your position at the moment, and what would help you reach your next step. I think Berlinale Talents is an amazing opportunity for filmmakers and film professionals that have experience, have done some significant work in the field, but want to expand their mind, network and hearts to new ideas, people and projects. Also age-wise, the participants that I met have varied between 26 and 42, so the range is wide and age is just a number in your ID.
What’s your number 1 piece of advice for upcoming filmmakers who are interested in taking part in the programme?
Read the regulations carefully and ask yourself if the profile they are looking for sounds fitting to yours. If the answer is yes – go for it, if the answer is no – ask yourself why you are interested in it, and if there may be better opportunities fitting your profile right now. If the answer is not sure – absolutely go for it, and the worst thing that could happen is that they say no, and then you can re-think what might be a better way for gaining the experience you wish for.
If you are a film industry professional and would like access to the catalogue and more, find out here how to sign up.
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