As a new initiative that started in 2012, the Biennale College – Cinema has the ambitious goal of developing and producing three micro-budget feature films every year, providing lectures and workshops to selected emerging filmmakers and offering them a debut at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime. Daazo talked to Savina Neirotti, Head of Programme at the Biennale College – Cinema.

Even though this programme is new for the film festival section, the Biennale has had similar programmes in other fields. “The Biennale College is an initiative of the Venice Biennale also operating in the areas of Dance, Theatre and Music, with the aim of fostering young talents, allowing them to work in contact with masters, tutors and trainers in order to develop “creations”. The primary goal of the Biennale College – Cinema, which is realised in partnership with Gucci, is to supplement the Film Festival with an advanced training workshop for the development and production of micro-budget audio-visual works”, says Savina Neirotti.

As there are 12 selected filmmakers and projects on board, the participants go trough a certain kind of natural selection process since only three projects are realised at the end. “The quality of the concept/idea comes first. But also the overall coherence of the project – as you can see in the application, we ask for a lot of supporting material: budget, previous works, audience engagement plan, casting idea, director’s vision. These help us understand if the project is well thought out, if there is a plan (that can change during the development process) and how it can be carried out to become a feature.” This overall coherence seems very important when talking about micro-budget filmmaking, where both the artistic and production side have to stay on ground to ensure the success.

Script and concept development is special and has to take all of this into account while working with personal stories and visions. “The real purpose of a well guided development process is that of bringing the director even closer to his/her project – enforcing the intimacy, strengthening the ties between the director and his/her story. Also, the BC-C works only with teams, composed of the director and the creative producer, making sure that the development and production “journeys” run in parallel, so that the process of bringing the film to the screen is the most organic possible. By exploring the aesthetics of micro-budget filmmaking and the new integrated models of production, which engage an audience from the outset, each team has the opportunity to fully explore the potential of their project.”

After this first year of the programme, three productions will have their premiere at the festival. Yuri Esposito by Alessio Fava, Memphis by Tim Sutton and The Year of June by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit. Their stories and concepts are just as complex as any other normal budget feature films but they had a deal with a budget of only €150 000.  “The teams selected for the first edition have been handling it extremely well: these teams not only had the budget restrictions, but also less time compared to the teams that will come next.

From the beginning, each team has a script consultant and a producer consultant attached to the project, and from the last workshop the teams are constantly supported as they come closer to the final budget”, explains Savina Neirotti, who adds: “The second edition of the Biennale College – Cinema already incorporates some significant modifications: launching the second call after only six months will allow the teams more time to produce and edit, since the first workshops will start in October (instead of January); also, the teams will benefit of one additional workshop dedicated only to script development.” Even though the programme needs some fine-tuning, it will close a successful first edition with the premieres in Venice. The films will be available online for a while as well.

by Zoltán Aprily 

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Find out more about the Biennale College Cinema here.