How to be successful in the film industry? Visegrad Film Forum Day Two

27.04.2017

On Wednesday the participant of 6th Visegrad Film Forum, tried to find the answer to the question above. As expected there is no one good solution.

Tuesday evening turned out to be a late night party. And yet, although we danced all night, the morning master class with Ludovica Ferrario was rather crowded. The lecture revolved around the backstage of the work of a production designer. Ludovica has worked with Wim Wenders on “Palermo shooting” and for the last couple of years she joined the Paolo Sorrentino team. Her speech “From the script to the set: Make it real” revealed details concerning building and designing various elements of scenography. We had the opportunity to learn how the audience is tricked to believe in the reality of the world portrayed on screen. Thanks to Ludovica we know how it was possible that St. Mark’s square was full of water in “Youth” and how the Sistine Chapel was recreated in “The Young Pope”. Ludovica claimed that the most crucial element of a film is the script. She compared it with a recipe. Everything is already in there and it’s up to the cook or the film crew how delicious the outcome will be. Being Buddhist doesn’t stop Ludovica from having a Bible - by which, of course, she meant the script.

Wednesday was the first day when the invited film schools presented their productions. We watched films from Ukraine (KNUTCT Kiev) and Slovakia (FTF VSMU Bratislava). The pieces represented different topics and standards. However, the meeting afterwards was a bit chaotic, especially because of the shy audience and the fear of microphones on the part of the filmmakers themselves.

The Second Master class of the day changed the approach and was more like a Q&A. For the shy members of the audience the hosts prepared a special app, slipd.com, which enabled them to post questions anonymously onto the main screen.  Next, we met with the representatives of nutprodukce (a Czech production company), Tomas Hruby and Stepan Hulik. They told a couple of funny anecdotes about their first experience in trying to convince Agnieszka Holland to direct their HBO miniseries, “Burning Bush”. Fortunately, they succeeded and teamed up with Holland, which allowed them to start working on their new project for HBO, “The Wasteland” (“Pustina”).  Not only did we learn about the backstage details of working on these two projects but also gained knowledge about the specifics of a script writer’s work. There was also a discussion about the quality of modern TV and its origins. Stepan claimed that it all started thanks to the development of DVD. This new format allowed the viewers to record their favourite shows so they wouldn’t miss any episode. Because of this the plot of TV series no longer had to be repeatable and the formula could evolve. Stepan accurately compared the evolutionary work of Bergman or Fellini in the 50s to the current rapid progress of quality TV production. During a vivid discussion the topic of new streaming channels such as Netflix or HBO GO was raised. nutprodukce stated that in the next two years this phenomenon will grow and Netflix will dominate the market of online VOD, due to its user-friendly simplicity.

Stepan and Tomas stated that there is no easy instruction as to how to succeed in the film industry. Based on their experience of the meeting with Agnieszka Holland, they recommend to always be honest. In building relations with more experienced filmmakers one should keep in mind that the more experienced colleague was once in the same place as them, so being honest about their situation will be an asset. With this useful advice we finished the meeting.  

The second day at VSMU ended with the screening of two documentary films of Sergei Loznitsa, Blocade & Landscape. Unfortunately, due to his other commitments director wasn’t able to participate in the case study of his films. On Thursday instead of his master class there will be exclusive screening of his newest film project, “Austerlitz” shows scenes of modern-day tourists at Holocaust sites. 

© Klaudia Stokowska & Zuza Woźniak