Opening the Toolbox

Opening the Toolbox

EFM DocSalon

DocSalon manager Nadja Tennstedt and Themba Bhebhe, EFM Diversity & Inclusion, talk to Business Doc Europe about the new initiative designed to deliver doc business know-how and connections to creatives from underrepresented groups, under the tutelage of expert consultants and coordinators. 

The DocSalon Toolbox Programme is a joint venture between the EFM’s DocSalon and its D&I initiative.

Supported by the Goeth-Institut, and recipient of additional support from CMPA, Creative BC, the New Zealand Film Commission, Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) and Telefilm Canada, the initiative, that includes a 4-day immersive programme and pre-market guidance, offers support to 17 participants during DocSalon.

“The EFM’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative focuses on the business case for the greater inclusion and empowerment of underrepresented groups in our industry” pointed out Bhebhe. “Beyond industry programming, much of that work has included ad hoc advice to project holders and orientation work with international delegations.”

So how does that impact the doc sector? In two ways, Bhebhe underlines. “Because of the way the film industry is structured, and because documentaries by and large require budgets that are on average lower than fiction budgets, then quite often documentaries are a point of access for filmmakers from marginalized groups seeking to create awareness and embody onscreen their identities, circumstances and perspectives.”

“Also, given that underrepresented groups find themselves affected by societal changes, movements and discrimination, then documentaries are a vector not only for their artistic expression, but concomitantly a vector for social impact,” adds Tennstedt.

Tennstedt further points out that she and Bhebhe have been working “assiduously” with delegations and individual project holders who are women and non-binary, BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour), LGTQI+ and other minority groups, and that the desire to “orient them around the EFM” as they seek to network and acquire greater business knowledge gave rise to the idea for the DocSalon Toolbox Programme.

“This is the first time we are doing this, it is our pilot,” adds Tennstedt. “I don’t think it has to be limited to documentary but this is where we are starting it. It is a workshop that very much connects the participants with the market initiative. And the response from the market has been great. I think there is really a big need for this type of immersive all-inclusive experience. We are starting small, but it could have been much bigger given the number of respondents.”

Concludes Bhebhe: “This programme is for equity seeking film creatives who are enabled to participate by the respective funding bodies. It is a very important characteristic of the programme that the participants don’t have any outlay – flight, accommodation and the market badge are covered by the funders.

“It is very much an initiative that is empowering these film creatives to be here at the EFM and to benefit from the connections that experience affords: what differentiates it from other such programmes is that it is very much focussed on business connections and the acquisition of market intelligence as opposed to pure training or capacity-building. With all these market experts to hand at EFM, it means it is very practical and hands-on. It really fills a gap.”