The first workshop of the 2019-20 CLOSE UP Co-Production training program concluded six days of intensive work in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
16 projects and their inspiring filmmakers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Turkey participated in the workshop. They worked intensely with their mentors John Appel, Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Nino Kirtadze and Bruni Burres on the development of their written proposals, visual materials and trailers.
Six Nordic Producers from Sweden, Finland and Denmark joined the workshop and participated as observers in order to examine possible Co-Productions with the selected Filmmakers.
On the first day of the workshop, the participants watched two feature length documentaries by the acclaimed French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert – “Every Little Thing” and ‘In the Land of the Deaf” followed by a fascinating Masterclass Philibert gave to both filmmakers and producers in which he spoke about his storytelling, cinematic approach and relationship with his characters.
Two Lectures on storytelling were given by Close Up partner & mentor John Appel, in his first lecture John defined the projects’ genre and presented examples from successful films with similar themes and styles. He spoke about the challenges and fruitful solutions found by the filmmakers of those films while emphasizing the use of different and variable storytelling technics in documentaries. In his second lecture, John used his vast experience as a Filmmaker and showed excerpts from his films while discussing the concept of storytelling. He gave examples of finding the dramatic focal point of a film and how to structure the narrative and the layout of the story.
Two Lectures were given by Close Up mentor Hans Robert Eisenhauer, in the first one he unfolded his personal outlook as a former commissioning editor and independent producer in the present on Co-Productions and the challenges directors and producers are facing during the filmmaking. He used examples from his own professional experience working with first time Filmmakers. In his second lecture, Hans Robert discussed the ways to write a comprehensive and strong written proposal and gave examples of projects’ he worked on and screened their trailers.
Throughout the workshop, the participants had both group and one-to-one tutorial sessions with their mentors. The Nordic Co-Producers observed these meetings and got to know both the filmmakers and their projects in depth. In addition, they had one-to-one meetings with each filmmaker to discuss what and how they could be involved with their projects as Producers.
On the fifth day, the participants attended a co-production case study by Moroccan director Hind Bensari and Danish producer Vibeke Vogel.
Hind & Vibeke shared the artistic and financial challenges they dealt with while working on the first feature length documentary directed by Hind Bensari. The film was developed at the Greenhouse program in 2014-2015 and won the Best Feature Documentary at 2018 Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival.
On the final day of the workshop, there was a pitching simulation session moderated by Executive Director Sigal Yehuda, the filmmakers presented their projects to the Close Up team & mentors and received feedback on their projects’ content and footage, as well as concrete thoughts on how to further develop and improve their projects.
At the end of the session, the Close Up team and mentors gave each filmmaker individual assignments. These assignments touch upon research, writing, filming and editing footage, which the filmmakers will need to complete in preparations for the second workshop, scheduled for March 2020.
The second workshop of the 2019/2020 CLOSE UP Co-Production training program materialized in an unexpected – but inspiring & productive way!
The Workshop took place last week over Skype. We scheduled Skype sessions between our 18 filmmakers and their mentors together with two prominent editing consultants, Joelle Alexis and Anne Fabini. They discussed with the filmmakers their project’s developments in regards to storytelling, dramaturgy, character’s development and cinematic vision based on edited materials & written proposals that our filmmakers have shared with our mentors & editors in advance. Each filmmaker had 2.5 hour’s session, it was intense, inspiring and constructive!It ended on Friday 13th of March, successfully without any risk taken and particularly in most productive way!
We were all saddened we couldn’t meet all in Izmir, but as the Covid-19 crisis continues to grow all over the world, we are happy that we maintained the safety of everyone at Close Up.
In preparations for our Final Workshop & Pitching Forum scheduled for June 2020, the mentors gave each filmmaker specific assignments in regards to the editing materials & the development of the written proposal, which the filmmakers will deliver in the next coming weeks.
In addition, the Close Up filmmakers will be having one-on-one Skype meetings with Nordic Producers in order to discuss further Co-Production possibilities.
After the completion of the Second Close Up Workshop, online meetings were scheduled between Close Up filmmakers from Southwest Asia & North Africa and Nordic Producers from Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The conversations were inspiring and very productive. The producers shared with the filmmakers their point of view and perspective on their projects. In addition they discussed together future co-production possibilities.
We’re extremely happy about our Co-production Training Program that promotes a valuable culture exchange between artists from different cultural, religious and ethic backgrounds.
We continue to work with our filmmakers on the development of their projects and looking forward to our final workshop and pitching forum in June.
The Third Workshop and Pitching Forum have ended succussfully after a week of virtual pitching sessions between 14-23 June 2020.
Our 22 filmmakers from Algeria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan & Turkey pitched their projects to an acclaimed group of decision makers from around the world including Robin Smith from Blue Ice Docs, Lisa Kleiner Chanoff from Catapult Film Fund, Karen Sloe Goodman from Silver Sun Foundation, Sean Weiner from Jacob Burns Film Center & Institute, Alex Szalat from Doc Up Fund, Sophie Chegaray from France TV, Karen Mikael from ARTE, Hajnal Molnar-Szakacs and Kristin Feeley from Sundance Film Institute, Lucila Moctezuma from Chicken & Egg Pictures, Amy Hobby from Tribeca Film Institute, Margje de Koning from Movies That Matter, Cecilia Lidin from the Danish Film Institute, Gudrun Hanke-ElGomri from SWR, Jess Gormley from The Guardian, Adriek van Nieuwenhuyzen and Isabel Arrate Fernandez from IDFA, Christine Camdessus and Christian Popp from FIPADOC, and Gitte Hansen from First Hand Films.
It was the first time most of our filmmakers had ever pitched, meeting the panel members who are passionate about the creative process of filmmaking and having such a diverse experience was incredibly inspiring for their development process.
Alex Szalat, the Director of Docs Up Fund was very impressed by the presentations of our filmmakers and offered to two awards of 1000 EUR for two Close Up projects, KAMAY & ROTTEN STRAWBERRY.
Alex is longtime friend of Close Up, he served as a member of our International Selection Committee this year and knows the projects when they were still ideas submitted to Close Up in July 2019.
Residency Awards are generously offered to our filmmakers by our wonderful partners Karen Sloe Goodman from The Silver Sun Foundation in Woodstock, NY and Sean Weiner from The Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville New York. As part of our collaboration, the selected filmmakers will be invited to work in the beautiful calm environment, surrounded by inspiring people in NY, USA in the spring of 2021. Karen Sloe Goodman and Sean Weiner are our longtime friends at Close Up and we are thankful for the precious support & wonderful opportunity they are providing to our filmmakers.
Another wonderful collaboration initiated with Margje De Koning the Artist Director of Movies that Matter Film Festival in the Netherlands. During the 2021 Movies that Matter festival, filmmakers from CLOSE UP will be invited to screen their rough cuts, work on their impact campaigns and get inspired by meeting filmmakers from all over the world. Movies that Matter will offer a tailor made program for them with experts to make their films stronger and will consult them on designing impact campaigns for their film.
In addition, we continue our collaboration with Sergi Dolade the Director of MEDIMED: The Euro-Mediterranean Documentary Market in Spain. One of the Close Up filmmakers will be invited to pitch their project at the MEDIMED Market in October 2020. We would like to thank Sergi for this fantastic opportunity he provides to our filmmakers.
Prior to our Pitching Forum, the filmmakers worked with their mentors and the prominent editors as part of the Third Close Up Workshop.
Throughout May 2020, the filmmakers had editing consultancy sessions with prominent editors: Giles Gardner, Joelle Alexis and Phil Jandaly to discuss how to improve their trailers.Thanks to the fantastic recommendations they received, their trailers progressed so much. All these sessions were very productive and gave a clearer vision to the filmmakers on how to make a great trailer. In early June, our filmmakers recorded their pitches, they received feedback and valuable recommendations from their mentors and the Close Up Executive Director Sigal Yehuda. In between, they also attended a Zoom lecture by producer and mentor Hans Robert Eisenhauer on Budget and Financial Planning. This lecture / Q&A session greatly helped them finalize their Production File for the 2019-2020 Close Up Catalog! The Final Close Up catalog was sent to the decision makers together with the trailer and recorded pitches prior to the pitching sessions.
We’d like to use the opportunity and thank Close Up supporters. As an international non-profit cultural organization, we rely on our committed supporters who share our values and believe in our vision with great passion and enthusiasm, we would like to deeply thank our incredibly committed donors!
Thanks to our significant long-time supporter, a family foundation based in NY, who supports us for more than 7 years and prefers to be anonymous. We would like to thank Neil Tabatznik and Robin Smith at Blue-Ice Docs, Lisa Chanoff, Barbara & Eric Dobkin, Karen Sloe Goodman & Rusty Goodman at Silver Sun Foundation, the Nordic Culture Fund, Pamela Jones & Craig Russel – Goldman Sacks, Ricki Roer & Paul McIsaac. We wouldn’t be able to do it without your sincere engagement & valuable support!
We would like to thank also our fantastic & committed mentors John Appel, Bruni Burres and Hans Robert Eisenhauer that worked intensely with our filmmakers! All Close Up filmmakers have gone through inspiring development processes with their projects and we’re very glad to see how all their hard work has come together and that they are receiving such great and productive feedback from prestigious decision-makers.
We would also like to thank Oren Moverman & Richard Gere for the encouragement & support provided to the Close Up initiation!
We are looking forward to continuing working with you all and connect with new colleagues & institutions.