The 2021 application window for dok.incubator closes on 27 January 2021 for its 10 season. This year’s dok.incubator will be a six-month long workshop consisting of intensive work on editing, distribution, and audience-building upgrades. Upon completion, projects will then be presented at the 2021 Nordisk Panorama Film Festival.
This year, dok.incubator takes on a slightly different form given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, taking place across three sessions and in a hybrid format. For more on these changes and insight into the dok.incubator approach, Modern Times Review spoke with Project Director Andrea Prenghyová.
How would you describe dok.incubator? What sets it apart from other such accelerator programmes?
There are two most important things that distinguish us from other training programmes and workshops. First thing is that we are the workshop which is coming quite late to the filmmakers – at the stage of the rough cut. Therefore, we are able to work with the real material and to participate in the real creative process. This is very important.
The second thing that distinguishes us is our quite special methodology, we are learning through doing – we are a very pragmatic workshop, but at the same time, we cover various aspects. On one side you get a very high quality of your creative process and on the other, you also get quite a wide perspective on your film – you test your film. You meet around twenty-four tutors from different sectors. Our workshop is not only about the creative side and editing, but we also involve marketing, PR, or distribution strategy in the development of the project. You meet experts from very different fields which you usually don’t meet and thus you get this very wide perspective of your film.
This means great and high-quality creative process and it also gives you a chance to have your film more developed than other films on the market. You are developing not only the content but also the full film project.
What qualities do you look for in a film that applies to the dok.incubator programme? Are there any aspects of a project that you do not privilege as being as important as others?
The most important thing for our selection is the material and its originality. We are simply looking for good films. We don’t care about genre. We take films of all genres and actually we like to mix different kinds of films with different kinds of filmmaking styles. Therefore, we have everything from historical films through current issues to very extravagant intellectual pieces. What is important is of course your language – we are searching for a film language in documentary stories. In the second round, it is also important who the director is and who the editor is, and their previous films. However, the quality of the film material is the first thing we are looking at.
What about within film teams? Aside from the actual subject matter of a film, are there specific criteria you look for in the personnel that make up the production team?
We are always looking for how the team works together because our experience during over twenty-five years with different kinds of workshops says that if you have a bad project with not good material, but you have a great team, you can really shift it two to three layers up. But if you have a very good and high-quality material with a team that is not working, you can never do anything with it. Such a project usually never has a good ending. Therefore, for us, a very important criterion is how the film team works together, if they really cooperate and how much they cooperate and if they all want to make the same film.
The second important thing is that we are looking for the potential of the people. Because at the end of the day, we are not developing the project, but we are developing the people behind the projects and we want them to learn the skills, not only for this film but also for other films. So, we are also looking for the people, where they are in their career, what their abilities are, and what their potential is.
You are developing not only the content but also the full film project
Can you name a few of the prominent films that have participated in dok.incubator over the years?
A famous film from last year is Acasa, My Home. This film started at Sundance, won awards at several festivals, and is now nominated for European Film Award. Another very successful film from last year is The Earth Is Blue as an Orange, a Ukrainian film that won the award for best directing at Sundance. And from the previous years – one of the most famous is A Woman Captured, a film about modern slavery which also traveled all over the world and has been broadcasted to more than four hundred million people in different TVs over the whole year in the frame of a project called «Why Slavery». We can also mention films Over the Limit or Golden Dawn Girls.
What can you tell us about the tutors this year?
I am very happy that all our tutors from 2020 after a year which they spent online, wanted to continue with us. Now we have a very stable and great tutor team. We have great editors like Chris Wright from Germany who has a film at Sundance this year and who has won several prizes for his film Heimat Is a Place in Time. Another great editor is for example Joëlle Alexis. We also have very good professionals for production, like Christine Le Goff, French producer who also won an Oscar, and great film people from marketing like well-known Freddy Neuman from Denmark.
What sort of criteria do you look for in choosing a dok.incubator tutor?
We always take tutors who are not only tutors but who are very active in the international field and are very well updated with what is happening in the industry. Especially in 2021, it is extremely important to give our participants really updated information on how the market is going and what has changed through the coronavirus epidemic in the film industry.
Every year we try to update our tutor team a little bit with one or two new tutors because the fresh air is very important and new people always bring new energy. Normally we work with tutors for about three/four years. And this is a rule. We don’t hire tutors for a long time besides several exceptions, because we think that this is a period when tutors have a lot of energy, they are learning and they are not tired.
This year will be the 10th year that dok.incubator exists. Can you take us back to year 1 and describe a little how the workshop has evolved from there?
At the beginning of dok.incubator was an idea to help filmmakers get out the maximum potential of their material. Because I founded dok.incubator together with Claas Danielsen, former director of Dok Leipzig. It was based on one discussion we had one day when I asked him how he selects his films at Dok Leipzig because he gets three thousand applications. He answered me and said: «You know out of these three thousand applications I know for sure that there are one to two films that I want in my competition.» And I asked him: «And what about the rest?» And he said: «And then we have about fifty films that might be there, but also might not and then we discuss weaknesses and so on, but any out of these fifty films could be between the twelve films of my competition.» And I asked him: «How come that only two films are exceptional and fifty are not?» He replied: «Each of these fifty films always has some ‘if’ – if they would stay longer with the character, if they would be following this aspect of the film more, if they would be editing better this part of the film, if, …there are these ‘ifs’.» And actually when we founded dok.incubator our main aim was to not have these «ifs», to have well-developed films where filmmakers ask all these questions.
Our first edition of dok.incubator was focused mainly on editing and production. Later on, we realized that also marketing and distribution are very important parts of the finishing process. It took us two years to realize this. And we didn’t know much about the process. But we were very lucky because during the first year of dok.incubator one of our films won at Sundance – the best directing award in the international documentary competition. And since that moment the attention of the festivals really pointed at the dok.incubator films. So, I would say we had a lot of luck at the beginning.
Are there any major schedule changes in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
In 2021 we have to count with the coronavirus epidemic impact on the film industry which means that we plan our workshop to be hybrid. Therefore, we organize all the large meetings between participants online. Nevertheless, we will send our tutors to the editing rooms of the participants. They will fly to their countries and they will be working together on the development of the films. We hope that it will be already possible to organise the second and third workshop in the residential form.
Submit your project for dok.incubator 2021 before 27 January 2021 – HERE
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