The Czech Film Fund aims to reinvigorate the underestimated role of script consultants
by Martin Kudláč
- The new Script Consulting Incubator commissioned by the fund is intended to support a new generation of Czech dramaturges
The lack of dramaturges and the under-prioritisation of the role itself on projects have been a subject of discussion in professional circles for some time now. A study commissioned by the Czech Film Fund in 2015 revealed, according to the testimonies of selected producers, that current dramaturges are not able to offer qualified or concrete analysis. Younger producers claimed there was a shortage of experienced professionals whose skillset would match those of combined script editors and heads of development. Screenwriters also agree that there is a dearth of capable dramaturges, but they regard the role as expendable. The directors questioned said that dramaturges are an essential but under-financed and overly neglected factor. Dramaturges themselves declared that the role was generally underestimated and did not have adequate prestige attached to it.
The Czech Film Fund thus decided to take steps to redress the situation by launching an initiative called the Script Consulting Incubator, in cooperation with MIDPOINT, an institution in the Central and Eastern Europe region that provides a wide range of professional training programmes for emerging film talents. The initiative aims to “heighten the quality of feature-film scripts” and to nurture a new generation of Czech script consultants. The script incubator commissioned by the Czech Film Fund will cater to selected script consultant trainees who will learn the trade from leading international experts. At the same time, these experts will consult on scripts supported by the fund, as the incubator has two separate programmes: Training the Script Consultants and Development of Czech Scripts, running in parallel with each other as well as partially overlapping.
The initiative starts in January 2018 and will demand a two-year commitment from the participants under the mentorship of Gyula Gazdag, artistic director of the Sundance Directors Lab, and three experienced tutors. Fifty-six applications were received during the open call, and the international committee picked four candidates. Oscar-winning Czech director Jan Svěrák was a member of the fund’s council from 2016-17, when he proposed and initiated the Script Consulting Incubator, saying, “The incubator should serve two purposes – in the short run, it should improve the quality of the participating projects in development. But it is in the long term that the programme is even more important – it should educate a new generation of Czech script consultants and teach the screenwriter, producer and director to understand the importance of the work of a script consultant.”
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