Interview with Andrea Prenghyova
We interviewed Andrea Prenghyova, creator of the DOK.Incubator documentary workshop, journalist and film director, who had served for 10 years as the head of the Institute of Documentary film in Prague, an institution dedicated to supporting filmmakers from Eastern and Central Europe.
What is the target group for the DOK.Incubator workshop?
In Europe, there are more than twelve workshops and ten pitching programmes that help filmmakers with the development of their films. So much energy and money is invested… But then, when filmmakers are actually making the film, they are left to themselves – in the crucial moments that really decide about the quality of the film and its success. This is why we chose a different way; we want filmmakers to come to us in the rough cut stage of production. We work together for six months before the premiere – working on the cut and on the marketing, distribution and promotion strategy. This phase is especially crucial for feature films that aims to go internationally (cinemas and major festivals); it can really change the life of the film.
How many projects participate in DOK Incubator?
Once we accept the project, we really take care of it. We invite the director, producer and editor, sometimes even the scriptwriter, to come to the workshop. Each project gets two editing mentors, a supervisor for production and distribution, and a supporting sales agent (in the final stage). Because of this high level of individual involvement, we can allow to have only eight films at a time. But we also have observers at the workshop; they can learn how to develop major festival films and can consult their projects.
How many sessions have you planned for 2013?
At the first workshop, we focus on storytelling. We spend a lot of time in the editing room. But questions regarding production and good release strategy are also important for us. At the second workshop, we require that the films be almost in their final cut. The feedback from sales agents and from supervising editors is important. After this workshop, participants can lock the picture and focus on marketing deliveries, because during the third workshop (at the Leipzig festival) they meet with festival programmers and decision makers from around Europe. Most of our projects this year already had sales agents attached, which helped a lot.
After only one edition, some of your projects have already become very successful (i.e. The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear). How was this film workshopped?
At the moment, four out of our eight projects have been released. All of them premiered at major festivals – some started at CPH:DOX or in Leipzig, we also had two films in competition at IDFA. Another project will soon premiere in competition at the Visions du Réel festival. But our biggest success is the Georgian film The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, which won the Best Director award at Sundance.
A big success for a small production.
The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear won the Best Director award despite its many handicaps – this was a documentary made by two sisters on a very small budget in a country that sees almost no documentaries screening in cinemas. There was no money for postproduction, no experienced producer, and all the sales agents had initially rejected the film, as it is not an easy movie for audiences – it is a real piece of art. But the filmmakers believed in their project and they made it. Today, their film has worldwide distribution, and is screening at major festivals. So this particular story also carries a message for all filmmakers: Never give up!
Why should Polish filmmakers attend DOK Incubator? What film personalities could they meet and what could they learn?
First of all, we really have some of the best experts from all of Europe – great sales agents like Deckert Distribution, Autlook and First Hand Films, as well as great acclaimed editors. Secondly, we offer very unique knowledge – how to really develop big films and everything that goes with them. Here in Eastern Europe, we really lack such know-how, and have limited sources of obtaining it. At this stage of the filmmaking process, we usually work hard on the content, but who really thinks about good marketing, communication with the audience, or a clever distribution strategy? If other parts of Europe have the same percentage of young film talents, then why are some countries more successful with their films? My answer is that it is not just a question of talent, but also of knowing how to develop the film. We want people to learn how to do that.
Andrea Prenghyova was interviewed by Marta Sikorska
The call for applications for the DOK.Incubator workshop is open until March 5.
Further details available at: www.dokincubator.net.
Translated by Karolina Kołtun