Consultant/mentor Selina Murat and participant Polina Teif (pictured) spoke to Business Doc Europe at the end of the 4-day pilot DocSalon Toolbox Programme, designed to deliver doc business know-how and connections to creatives from underrepresented groups, under the tutelage of expert consultants and coordinators.
Seventeen participants benefited from the programme which was a joint venture between EFM’s DocSalon and its D&I initiative.
“What is important to understand is that the participants on the Toolbox Initiative are already very skilled professional producers who, in their own territories, are doing very well,” pointed out Selin Murat (RIDM – Montreal International Documentary Festival & DAE).
“What the Toolbox was great for, and was meant to do, was to give ongoing support before, during and hopefully after [EFM] to allow them to take as much advantage of the Berlinale as possible,” she adds.
A core aspect of the Toolbox offer was the covering of major costs (market badge, flight and accommodation), which can be crippling for first-time market attendees trying to find their way, often alone, at a new event.
“That is exactly how you achieve a sense of equality, where the producers who don’t have financial privilege can participate in the Berlinale [on equal terms]. That is how this [programme] bridges a gap,” says Murat.
“Everybody has to go through a first market,” she adds. “It’s a trial by fire where you never think you are doing enough… I think we took away that trial aspect by preparing the participants in advance to take full advantage of the initiative from the get-go.”
Canadian participant Polina Teif concurred. “This was very curated towards navigating the market and making the best of it,” she said.
“It was a seamless experience in terms of transportation and accommodation, as well as a very tailored schedule through the different initiatives arranged in conjunction with DocSalon, meeting with festivals and distributors and also a lot of very insightful workshops about grant writing, impact producing, sales and distribution. From industry experts we got grounded and practical advice.”
Murat points out the sense of camaraderie that the programme bestowed on participants. “EFM has 10,000 visitors and can seem such an alienating space, and you see people around you looking busy all the time as if achieving all these Netflix deals.”
“So what was really good about Toolbox was the sense of community. They [the participants] felt that they had people with them, rooting for them, in the same place as them and there to help them achieve what they want to achieve.”
So does Teif, who was pitching her eco doc project Eulogy for the Dead Sea, feel improved as a producer at the end of the process?
“Absolutely. I am now entering post- and things aren’t so ambiguous and I have a lot of material to show. Here my primary goal was to solidify a festival strategy with this project and I have been able to do that, and I have great leads with distributors that I will be following up.
“It has been a rewarding market experience and it was seamless for us. It was very productive, and I acknowledge the amount of organisation that it took, for which I am super grateful.”
The DocSalon Toolbox Programme was supported by the Goethe-Institut, and was recipient of additional support from CMPA, Creative BC, the New Zealand Film Commission, Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) and Telefilm Canada.