Filmmakers learn from experts at Immersion (September 27, 2015)

TTFF RBC article Sept 27 2015 B37As part of its focus on encouraging local talent, the T&T Film Festival (ttFF) has announced the participants in the 5th iteration of the RBC Focus: Filmmaker’s Immersion.
TtFF Program Director Annabelle Alcazar said the program takes participants to a higher level, as they have to have made at least a short film before and not be completely new to the field.
Previous participants say the program was invaluable in helping them to become better filmmakers. 2011 participant, director Sean Hodgkinson, took his script for his successful film, A Story About Wendy, to the program. “It was a good chance to get in to meet the filmmakers and get some of the Film Festival experience, from that Wendy 1 came out, which sold out the Film Festival the year after, we did Wendy 2, sold out again and I guess your name gets out there by doing this, so I’m very appreciative of Annabelle organizing it for me, because people know who you are and your work and they’re more willing to back you if you have something that’s successful. I think it was a great opportunity to meet other filmmakers, I met some really cool people and you create bonds and linkages and it’s awesome.”
Director Ryan Khan said the immersion was worth it and a very constructive workshop. “Film Festivals usually have these immersion programs for filmmakers where you take a project that you’re currently working on and amongst other creatives you’re able to push it forward or restructure it or polish it. Even though a lot of the stories might have been a little more independent, unlike mine, a zombie comedy called “Trini to the Bones,” which is a little more mainstream, we still managed to come together as Caribbean filmmakers and I had a lot of input from other filmmakers who were like “oh man we totally get that reference you’re going for” and they understood the film as well as I understood their films. I think we could definitely use more workshops like these but there obviously has to be the same level of buzz because they’re established brands like ttFF and RBC Immersion program and then you get a chance to interact with a very prestigious filmmaker, in my case award-winning Argentinian writer, director and producer Julia Solomonoff, who didn’t just tell us what to do, she brought us together, gave us her own experiences, thoughts and ideas and we would all collaborate based on her tempo and direction. I was able to, after I did that workshop, get a fuller treatment and from there write my script. I can’t really say if it’s the same for everybody.”
2014 participant, Miquel Galofré, who is a transplant from Spain to T&T, said the workshop was a great experience which he wished could have continued for a year. “I enjoyed and learned a lot. Sharing ideas and listening to the mentor and the participants was priceless and very inspiring. It’s very hard to make a film and it takes a lot of effort, usually years, so I don’t expect that all the projects will become films. Anyway it is very helpful to understand better why we make films and what is possible or not. The project I had there is not a film yet. But since then I have done a new feature documentary that is world premiering at ttFF, called ‘My Father’s Land’ and I also have a new Trini project that got selected at the Caribbean Film Mart called “Hello Nicki.”
Alcazar said “the workshop is a three-day intensive, really to kind of have them deconstruct their idea and then reconstruct it, hopefully in a much better, more presentable way.” She said this is at the treatment stage before the script is written. “A lot of people don’t have their scripts ready when they’re trying to get their project funded, so this is an interim exercise for them, and it just really covers all aspects of script writing, character breakdown, plot points, everything you could possibly imagine.”
“We’ve had some pretty amazing facilitators and this year is no exception, we’ve got a lady called Christina Lazaridi, who teaches script writing at Princeton and Columbia University in the US so she’s very highly qualified and she’s very interested in the Caribbean. She’s originally from a small island in Greece, so she associates with islands and is generally very enthusiastic. We’re thrilled to be having her and I think she’ll be a wonderful presenter.” Other participants who have gone on to do well after the Immersion Program are Damian Marcano, who produced “God Loves the Fighter,” and Mariel Brown, who produced a two-part documentary on Eric Williams.
Alcazar said the ttFF was grateful to RBC for their sponsorship of the event.

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