Producing films: Distinguishing the essential from the non-essential.
Producing films is a hugely challenging but necessary undertaking. The world is already overflowing with audiovisual material, and it is tempting for artists to reproduce what they have already seen. Through working with others, producing students create an environment of collaboration and discovery, as well as structures that allow for visionary cinema to come to life.
At the DFFB, we educate and train courageous producers who undertake this journey with grace and self-awareness. They examine current models of production, and research and create new ones. They develop their capacity to discern and separate the essential from the non-essential. They take full responsibility for their projects and produce with an eye on the big picture.
But a producer who truly wishes to succeed must also be willing to fail. The DFFB wishes for its students to understand failure as a necessary and inevitable part of learning – this is a core value of the academy.
During the first academic year of the basic studies programme, producing students learn together with students of the other specialisations, and acquaint themselves with all phases and disciplines of the filmmaking process. During the second academic year of this programme, they are ready to assume their duties as producers on various short film projects – from overseeing the story development to the finalised film, and beyond.
Producing students work continuously and collaboratively on the development of project ideas. The aim of this approach is to develop methods for brainstorming ideas and storylines, and to further students’ capacities to analyse narrative structures. They also learn how to cast films, break down a script, access dailies and rough cuts, and navigate all phases of post-production and distribution. Producing students attend film markets with their projects. For example, they attend the Berlinale as part of a mentorship programme alongside an experienced producer.
Producing students are expected to also work as production managers, and to plan, organise, and manage short film projects. They should be able to move between the roles of producer and production manager with ease.
In the main studies programme, producing students will be able to deepen and expand their skills through classes on dramaturgy, genre films, negotiation, contract drafting, and sales. They oversee their own film projects, which can include documentary films and television series, as producers and/or production managers.
In cooperation with experienced producers and production managers, producing students will prepare projects that are ready to be financed. They have the possibility to explore and examine a wide range of financing and distribution opportunities as well as various financial options for a film’s release and for recouping costs. At the end of their main studies, the groundwork has been established for starting their own production companies, and the students now have a better understanding of their unique characteristics and talents as producers.
The VGF-DFFB International Producers’ Programme offers seminars, workshops, and visits to major international markets to producing students throughout their studies. Students of the main studies programme can gain practical work experience through internships, or explore positions within the DFFB International Film Festival in the areas of curating, marketing, and distribution. In the final year of study, students are also supported through a mentoring programme to prepare them to leave the DFFB and enter the film industry.
Anna de Paoli, Senior Lecturer Film Producing, 2018