This was the Industry Day – Go Short 2022
After two years of going from one lockdown into the other, mental health has been neglected in society. Because Go Short was one of the first festivals to commence this year after another winter in lockdown, the festival should be something more than just a way to step outside the bubble. It was a place where filmmakers could work on their own mental health.
The day began with a plenary session in one of the largest film halls in LUX film theater, Netherlands. From far and wide, filmmakers came to see Stephane Kaas speaking to the audience about the power of failure. He showed fragments of stories that seemed to be success stories – however, these stories proved to be quite the contrary of success stories. He started off with the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse from Eleanor Coppola. This film shows the mental breakdown of Francis Ford Coppola and all his setbacks from up close during the making of Apocalypse Now. Terry Gillian’s proces of making Lost in la Mancha was also used as an example. His lead role gets hospitalized and during shooting, a huge storm comes to almost destroy the entire set and all the equipment there. It didn’t help that such a storm at such a place was considered an anomaly.
The point? Every seemingly successful story can actually be a huge f*ck-up story instead when you really look at what happened during the making process. Failure is not a bad thing; the biggest of the world wouldn’t have been able to do their work without it.
Panel financial and mental health
And with that in mind, we went on to a panel talk with Rebecca Day (founder & psychotherapist at Film In Mind), Pien van Gemert (Coaching in de Cultuur) and Stephane Kaas. The panel was moderated by Emilia Mazik from Short Waves Festival. They spoke about how to stay mentally healthy and financially stable as a filmmaker or -professional. How do you make sure that you get paid a fair share for your work as a creative? And what tools are available to make it easier for filmmakers to keep financial independence?
These sort of questions were asked by makers that were in the audience. With a so-called catch box, a cube made of foam with a microphone in it, the audience was made a participant with the discussion. Whether a filmmaker had a burning question or just wanted to make a statement: it didn’t matter, any form of participating was allowed.
Lastly, festival director Kirsten Ruber mentioned that Go Short and Coaching in de Cultuur would soon start a intervision course by filmmakers for filmmakers. This intervision course is meant to be a safe space where makers can speak about their struggles confidentially. This will be spread out into different sessions and will, in total, take several months.
“This is something I wished we’d do more in the U.K. as well. Taking responsibility and learning from peers is extremely helpful.”Rebecca Day on the intervision training
“Share the moments in which you fail”
In comes Remko, a failure fitness coach. Dressed in a blue Adidas jacket, he takes the audience with him in his infectious enthusiasm and his energetic appearance. He hammers the importance of giving up control and embrace your own failures instead of condemning them. “By sharing your failures instead of keeping them to yourself, it no longer remains an individual process. By doing that, it’s far easier to shrug that negative feeling away,” he tells the audience. His wisdom is followed by exercises that challenge the audience in a rather peculiar way. The exercises were designed to let the members of the audience fail miserably. But, to fail miserably together is what bonded the filmmakers and film professionals in that brief moment of shared failure – and shared joy.
Speed date sessions
For some filmmakers, it can be a big step up to get in contact with professionals from the film industry. Mails with great pitches or astonishing ideas remain unanswered and end up at a producer’s pile, labeled ‘things we should definitely maybe do something with sometime perhaps in the future’. Many filmmakers ask themselves how they’ll ever get their grand and fantastic film ideas done. That’s why Go Short wanted to make this process more accessible.
Aspiring filmmakers were offered a chance to talk to one of those film producers and other film professionals and received tailor-made advise.
According to Sara van Lookeren, a freelance dramaturge who was present as one of the film professionals, this meeting was incredibly useful for starting filmmakers. Her advice? “Study projects you admire and learn from the way these films were distributed and produced.” Jolijn van Rees, NL Filmfonds: “Sometimes aspiring filmmakers don’t know when they should pitch their ideas to a producer. My advice to them is to diversify in order to get the producer that’s fit for you.”
Erik van Drunen, also from NL Filmfonds, resorted to the failure fitness from Remko during the plenary session in the morning. “A common mistake that I see with aspiring filmmakers is that they’re too cautious. Take the risk to fail and enter the realm of filmmaking actively; you have a story to tell.”
Producers meet scriptwriters
Another group of filmmakers, who applied in advance of the festival, were aiming their arrows at their pitch. In another meeting inside the library, scriptwriters could pitch their film ideas in front of a producer. The writer was given five minutes to blow away the producer with a fantastic pitch. If the producer didn’t bite, it was on to the next one and try the same thing over again. There were six producers present.
Every writer had their own way of pitching ideas. One writer pitched six ideas in one take, hoping that one of the ideas would stick. The other had only one idea, but this was then entirely worked out, in details. It was obviously a nerve-wrecking experience for the writers, but luckily, the delicious sandwiches eased the tension a little bit.
After lunch, it’s time for interactive workshops. One of these workshops is about NFT’s, Web3 and DAO’s and on how these new inventions may be used in the future for filmmakers and on how it can change the future. Another workshop, called First Impressions put filmmakers to the test by having them show the first scene of their newest film project to a panel of film experts – if they dared. Yet another session covered the intimacy coaches and the importance of their presence on set and in the fil industry in general in the workshop Sex on set: don’t screw it up! by Philine Janssens and Marjan Lammers.
When the tummies were filled and everyone was hydrated enough, filmmakers and -professionals could get into conversation with one another about a diversity of themes that dominate the film industry momentarily. In total there were six different roundtable sessions to choose from that were all going on at the same time. One table covered how to work together with streaming services like Netflix and the Dutch Videoland without losing your authenticity as a filmmaker, or risk losing your idea as soon as you pitch it at a meeting with the streaming service. Marthe Naber Heuer, founder of Mediamonster and filmmaker of the Dutch documentary De Lachgaskoning, was asked to explain why she took this risk anyway: “You’re not giving away a part of yourself; it’s rather a chance, a learning experience, instead of a restriction of your own way of creating.”
At another table, professionals were fiercely discussing a totally different subject, the Fair Practice Code. Rosa Scholtens from Laat Je Niet Naaien (translation: don’t get screwed) lead the session, including among others Emma O’Hare from Dutch Culture. The conclusion was that filmmakers should organize themselves better and stand for their rights as individual artists to get paid a fair share. O’Hare: “The difference between producers and filmmakers is quite distressing; ask a room full of producers if they’re able to pay for their monthly expenses, and every single one in that room will raise their hand. Do that in a room filled with filmmakers and you’ll see just a couple hands touching the sky.”
What better way to end the day than a drink? After a productive day, filmmakers assembled in the Festival Pavilion to share their experiences of the day and the knowledge they gained. Since Go Short’s subtitle was Outside the Bubble, it was only logical that a glass of bubbly was waiting for them inside.
And that’s the Industry Day of Go Short 2022! After this informative day, filmmakers and professionals could relax and get entertained by visiting the program of the Music Video Competition. The people who wanted to continue into the late hours, they could visit the Industry Party at Café De Wit Wasserij.