Master classes and workshops with directors and other film professionals are welcomed across the board, however, as Jane Rice pointed out, there must be a balance between offering such opportunities for the students, and ensuring that these are not influencing them too far in the search for their own individual voice. In how far discovering this voice depends on the teachers varies in each of the schools, but as the students agreed, attending film school is also about learning how to 'curate' who to take advice from, and creating a balance between collecting formative influences, and personal creative development.
In terms of influences, the discussion touched upon weather students are watching films, weather as part of their courses, or just as (informed) spectators, with many of them confirming that they do. The schools are aiming to encourage that, and more; the representatives generally agreed that their role is also to encourage the student's interest in and engagement with other art forms and “the ideas of the world” (Jane Rice, IADT). One way through which they can work towards that, while also preparing themselves for entering film as a profession, is attending film festivals, which some of the students admitted they don't do too often. There was, however, general consensus that such events are important platforms for young filmmakers to develop and to make connections, despite the fact that the schools generally do not propose compulsory curriculum elements preparing the students in terms of festival submissions and festival attendance. Some institutions do have dedicated departments that monitor existing festivals, as well as training events, and offer counselling in these matters. But it is ultimately the student's responsibility to reach out to the relevant staff members to take advance of such opportunities.
It also often depends of the students to explore other media besides film. Most film schools, those present in this round-table included, don't actively teach cross-overs into new technologies and multi-platform storytelling, or even television. Some of the schools representatives did suggest that they are supportive when students manifest an interest. But the young directors of Future Frames did not seem to have an affinity for these other forms of storytelling. Some of them did intervene to acknowledge that they are aware TV is more and more a lucrative industry that is gradually opening up to offering creative freedom. However, their primary interest lies with cinema.
It is cinema films that these 10 promising filmmakers are aiming to direct. The vast majority of them have now graduated, so the question arose whether they ultimately feel that they have studied enough and are now prepared to take on their first fully professional challenges. None of them rushed to answer affirmatively, but it is understandable that have yet to fully shape their confidence in their own abilities. This will probably be a constantly evolving process- as one young director put it “I don't want to be ready”, explaining that in a fast pacing industry, what they ultimately also learn in school is also how to learn so that they can continue doing that as they advance in their careers.
The round-table undeniably touched on some of the key issues connected to teaching film and it was a welcomed opportunity for schools to exchange ideas. Furthermore, it was important in the sense of having school representatives engage in such a dialogue with their own (former) students. According to Renate Rose, this first edition was treated as a test that brought light on how to better approach the project in the future. Perhaps the existence and growth of initiatives such as Future Frames will ultimately influence a diversification of film education, in the sense of working towards the incorporation of more elements that help the young filmmakers become active and successful players in the film industry. The association of the event with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival can only be beneficial, in terms of offering the students the experience of attending such an event, where they can touch base with the industry, the press and the audience.
EFP Future Frames- The Role of Film Schools
Karlovy Vary 2015- Special Event
Name: Mirona Nicola
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @mironatly
European Film Promotion is running various programmes meant to support young talent in the audiovisual industry in Europe- such as the “Shooting Stars” event taking place during the Berlin Film Festival, or the “10 Directors to Watch” organised for several years in partnership with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. According to Managing Director Renate Rose, their new initiative, Future Frames, came from the need to creating a springboard for the very young directors- those just graduating from film school. After a pre-selection run by the EFP members in their respective countries, the 28 pre-selected short films by graduating directors were further reduced to a final list of 10. These were screened during this first edition of Future Frames, in partnership with the 50th KVIFF.
In addition to organising various events meant to promote the 10 young director selected for Future Frames, EFP also took on the role of engaging a discussion with and about film schools. This round-table discussion touched upon the role of these institutions as the bedrock of new generations of filmmakers. The discussion was moderated by Domenico Laporta, journalist for Cineuropa. It involved the selected directors, as well as representatives of 6 of the schools the filmmakers attended.
The institutions represented here are of various 'ages', and as such have different degrees of experience and have developed their teaching methods also under the influence of the time at which they were created. While some take on 'team-focused' education (acting not just as an education milieu, but also as a space for forming future film professionals of various crafts to meet collaborators for the long run), others take on a more 'auteur-focused' approach. A fact cannot be ignored though: all the ten directors selected for Future Frames are also the authors of the scripts of the films they were presenting here.
The existence of a long tradition of the school is not necessarily correlated with choosing one of the two approaches, but a factor that seems to play a role is ultimately the development of technology. With cameras and editing software readily available nowadays, there is nothing impeaching a student training to become a director from also handling other aspects (such as cinematography or editing) when making their school projects. For many this is a beneficial thing, because, both in the school's and in the student's perspective, a director needs to be pluri-disciplinary. As Jane Rice (teacher at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dublin, Ireland) emphasized, “they need to know how to discuss with a producer”- suggesting that a learning by doing approach is necessary to train the future directors in working with the various other members on the team. According to Despoina Mouzaki (representing the School of Film Studies of the Thessaloniki Aristotle University) going as far as making it compulsory for students to take on different roles and collaborate on each other's films is also beneficial in terms of developing the students' understanding and abilities of team-work.
The film industry is a highly competitive one, so naturally the question arose whether the schools are preparing the students for stepping out of their protective environment into the business. After all, as the moderator suggested, the success of their alumni is something that ultimately plays back into the institutions attracting more students in the future- a topic not many of the school representatives were eager to comment on. Pavel Jech, director of FAMU, intervened to explain that it is important that students feel they are given creative freedom, but ultimately, despite limitations, film education should also touch upon the aspect of their preparation as actors in an industry- “[as a school] you can't become a factory of low-budget projects” Jech stated.
From the students' perspective, a way to touch base with the climate in the industry while in school depends on the institutions introducing more practical-focused elements in the curriculum, but also on their openness in terms of bringing their students in contact with professionals currently active in the film industry. Linda Sterno (representing the Valand Film Academy of Göteborg University) mentioned that the previously discussed 'investment' in the students isn't only connected to their impact on the track record of the school, but also to the willingness of alumni to come back and be involved in such initiatives once they have become established filmmakers.