Country Focus: Belgium
A boost for projects in development and post-production
by Birgit Heidsiek
- As the most important event in the Dutch film industry’s calendar, the Holland Film Meeting in Utrecht brings together producers, financiers, representatives from film funds and festivals as well as distributors and world sales companies in order to discover projects or discuss strategies spanning from development through to release. This year, the Holland Film Meeting started off with “Europe Day”, posing the problem of “How to reach your audience”.
“Audience development is becoming an important issue,” stated Signe Zeilich-Jensen, head of Holland Film Meeting. During the audience development session, Dag Asbjørnsen, policy officer in the MEDIA Unit of the European Commission, raised the question of how a European perspective can be added to the film projects. While British psychologist Richard Hadley was present as part of a network team that provides training on how to communicate better with the audience, Marek Bien from Polish distributor Gutek Film presented the new Scope 70 project, which will be launched together with Festival Scope to distribute festival films.
The centrepiece of the four-day event was the HFM Co-Production Platform, where 21 film projects from the Netherlands and other countries were pitched to the professionals. “We had a preparation day and provided coaching for the pitching,” said Zeilich-Jensen. Meanwhile, Ellis Driessen, the founder of the HFM Market, coordinated the “Script and Beyond” analyses. In one-to-one meetings with script consultants, the writers had to outline the approach they were adopting for their project in development, define their target audience and describe what kind of support they were looking for.
Furthermore, five works in progress in post-production were presented, which had previously been pitched at the HFM. “This is a great opportunity to see how the projects turn out after we saw them only on paper before,” underlined Simon Ofenloch, commissioning editor at ZDF/Arte. “Over here, the projects get their last chance to close a gap in post-production.” Ofenloch was also enthusiastic about the first images from Eisenstein in Guanajuato by Peter Greenaway, which he had picked up as a project at the HFM Co-Production Platform 2013.
During this year’s HFM, German producer Jakob D Weydemann, of Weydemann Bros, who pitched the clever character study Little Paradise by Philipp Döring, instantly found a Dutch co-production partner. “We already received a lot of interest when our project appeared in the HFM line-up,” reported Weydemann, who managed to get producer Raymond van der Kaaij from Revolver Amsterdam on board.
In total, about 80 projects had been submitted to the HFM. “We like to have a broad variety of different genres,” concluded Zeilich-Jensen. Among this year’s projects were a rom-com, a psychological thriller and a historical drama. About half of all the projects were pitched by female directors and producers. “Nine out of 21 films are going to be directed by women and ten produced by women – that is almost 50:50.”