The Biennale College – Cinema is a higher educational workshop for the development and production of micro-budget works, launched at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, 2012. At the close of an international call for participation, the initial submission counted 433 projects from 77 countries from around the world. The BCC’s mission is to promote emerging filmmaking talent by offering them the opportunity to work closely with well-know professionals toward the goal of producing a low-budget film. As many as three of the 12 projects will receive 150,000 Euro in funding to make three feature-length films, which will be presented at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. From director Adam Breier and producer Ákos Schneider comes a project titled The Strike, which was one of the 12 projects invited to the Biennale College – Cinema workshop. We met up in Budapest and talk about their experiences.
How did you become part of the Biennale College section of the Venice Film Fest and decide to have your project called ‘The Strike’ launch here?
Adam Breier: I just started to develop this project, The Strike in Cuba – where I was studying at the EICTV – after finishing my thesis short film, “Tides”. Akos told me about this opportunity, and we’ve decided that we should participate together.
These conversations of course were taking place with Cuban internet connection from my side, which made the working together part even harder and a bit more absurd. No Skype, no Facebook chat. Just e-mails. The Biennale asked a lot of things from the director and a lot of things from the producer’s side. Therefore we started to work with an even higher speed with my Cuban co-writer Nurielis Duarte, to be able to get everything done by the shortly upcoming deadline.
Akos Schneider: Last year my production company AZT-Media applied with another project of Aron Matyassy, but that project did not get selected. This year I also applied and l think we were lucky – there were many great projects all over the world who applied, so I considered myself very honored to be selected.
Tell us about the process you went through. Who was in the selection committee? What did you learn from them? What was the most challenging part of the workshop experience?
Adam Breier: Firstly, they required a basic package: synopsis, treatment, director’s statement, casting plan, budget, timing, references, cv-s. We submitted all the material, and with Nuri, I started to work on the first draft. When I came home from Cuba in August we received an email from the Biennale that our project was selected into the 12 projects out of 250 applicants. We were thrilled.
Overall it was a 4 month constant project development and we have learned a great deal from the tutors as well as from the fellow applicants about our project. There was no general information, but individual hands-on project development. The most challenging part was the speed of the whole workshop. The development and the new drafts what they were asking were made really fast and it was really hard to keep up with that speed.
Akos Schneider: The selection committee were very prestigious, it included Michel Reilhac (producer of Wim Wenders and Lars von Trier films), Tristan Goligher (producer at the Bureau), Amy Dotson (program manager of IFP and Torino Filmlab decision maker), Mike S. Ryan (producer of Choke, Turin Horse) and many more. Overall they were very supportive about our project and encouraged us not to make compromises but to explore the hidden potentials of our movie.
San Servolo Island, Venice
As a working duo, do you ever feel the need to compromise with projects the other is particularly passionate about?
Adam Breier: If you work together with somebody there are always compromises and there is nothing wrong with that within a limit. I think we have a lot of respect towards each other therefore we don’t push each other into bad compromises.
Akos Schneider: I would say that Adam is instinctively passionate, and I am rationally more structured, that is a good fit in my opinion.
Róbert Kardos actor
What will happen with your project? What’s next on the horizon?
Adam Breier: We are working on the third draft of the script right now. The Biennale College development brought up a lot of new questions and possible directions, that we are resolving in this period. And also we will send this draft to the Hungarian Film Fund very soon, in hope of continuing developing with them. We would love to make this as a Hungarian film, with Hungarian crew and actors from Hungary.
Akos Schneider: Definitely we need to work more on the script, we try to take part in other script development workshops and gain more feedback.
What is your best memory of Venice?
Adam Breier: The pitch was my first real big pitch in front of a big crowd that could really change my carreer. It was an enormous and glorious ball room with Head of the Biennale, Paolo Baratta, Head of the Venice Film Festival, Alberto Barbara, the people from Gucci and mostly some Italian news agencies. And I think we did a good job. We got a lot of great feedback and I have learnt a lot about how to sell a project, and how to stay confident in front of a huge audience.
Akos Schneider: I could name many great memories…For example, when the producing tutors showcased their movies and we had a full review of their budgets and production plans. Another good memory was when a British script tutor Paul Tyler visited us and we played a great psychological game on our project with Lego building blocks – that was very interesting. Or when the festival director Alberto Barbara give his hand to me and personally congratulated to us, that was encouraging.
Where do you see your filmmaking going in the future? What kind of movies do you want to do?
Adam Breier: I would love to do a lot of things. Right now I would say that on one hand I want to make smaller, more personal more auteur – type movies, and on the other hand more funny, more commercial comedies. I feel a bit uneducated in new media, so I most likely will try to change that and let myself get carried away with some new ways of filmmaking.
Akos Schneider: I would love to take part in any project that is brave and sincere.