Jean-Pierre Candeloro • Head of the Laboratory of Visual Culture
by Valerio Caruso
- Cineuropa chatted to Jean-Pierre Candeloro, head of the Laboratory of Visual Culture (SUPSI) and of the i_doc workshop, to find out more about his school
Cineuropa: What are the main strengths of your school?
Jean-Pierre Candeloro: The Laboratory of Visual Culture is part of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), and we offer continuing education, consulting, and interdisciplinary applied research and development at the crossroads of media studies, cultural communication and interaction design. Practical application and innovation are the major factors that have influenced our development, and we place particular importance on an international approach and attitude.
You have been developing the i_doc training course, co-financed by the MEDIA Programme, for several years. What is the purpose of this initiative?
We have been organising the i_doc workshop since 2013, in collaboration with Visions du Réel International Film Festival’s Doc Outlook-International Market (DOCM) and, from this year on, also thanks to the invaluable support of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture. Our aim is to enable European professionals to seize some of the opportunities and challenges presented by unfolding audiovisual trends by equipping participants with precise, comprehensive and practical skills and knowledge in developing, producing, financing and distributing interactive documentaries and transmedia non-fiction projects. Our initiative offers creative and cultural industry professionals a chance to be innovative in their productions, to keep up to date with the evolution of audiences’ practices and expectations, and to increase competitiveness.
For us it’s very important to adopt a project-orientated approach, meaning that participants applying with a project will acquire the skills and methods while they are learning them during the practical development of a working concept for an interactive documentary conceived for the web, tablets or other mobile devices – in other words, a non-linear, “factual” project where the new potential of digital technologies and an active user participation are integrated at different stages of the project.
What kind of support and follow-up are you providing to the participants?
Networking is a key element in our programme, among participants and trainers, but also among all the professionals attending the Festival’s Doc-Outlook International Market. The i_doc workshop takes place as part of the official DOCM activities, where participants will be able to network with producers, commissioning editors and decision-makers. For us, encouraging networking also means fostering the broader international mobility of our participants and their projects in development. For this reason, we are very proud to announce that from this year on, an official partnership with the MEDIA-supported Cross Video Days (CVD) will reward the best project resulting from our workshop with an official invitation to attend the highly competitive CVD content market, to be held in June in Paris.
Your school works extensively with documentaries. Given that you are based in Switzerland, what are your impressions of documentary production in the country, especially with regard to distribution and circulation?
In Switzerland, where a film industry barely exists, documentary films have long been the strength of our national cinema: Swiss filmmakers are supported by government funding and are viewed as essential contributors to our national culture. The Swiss public television has also always fulfilled the role of the principal producer and distributor of documentaries. It is a situation that encourages the creation of small-scale works in amongst the grandest ones in Europe, making it to the mainstream cinemas and circulating at the most internationally renowned festivals. On the other hand, the positive impacts of media convergence and documentary-format experimentation – in particular in the field of digital storytelling – are lagging behind somewhat compared to the rest of Northern and Central Europe, a gap that has been targeted only in the last few years by the government and the public broadcaster. And it’s just starting to show some valuable results.