Progress since November was pretty varied project to project, our group including Stefan Lechner, Lieven Corthouts & Emmy Oost, Madhureeta Anand & Johannes Rosenberger, Walo Deuber & Rose-Marie Schneider and Ruslana Berndl. Some directors had shot material, but mainly people had reworked Treatment texts and worked on selecting their Characters (a term that non-doc filmmakers find a bit weird, but it's just short-hand for 'casting' the strongest people on screen). I was the only native English speaker although the workshop was conducted in English, and I rather delighted in the peculiarly expressive hybrid language we all seemed to learn to speak across the week. The tutor, Argentian-born Gualberto Ferrari has a very Latin way of saying 'radical' extremely motivationally - 'Rrrraaaadeeeecallll" - It certainly helps explain a few things about how things get fired up in Latin American culture and politics and makes everyone in the room instantly agree to making a 'radical feelm'. Projects are skilfully passed around the room for feedback, and rushes (video footage) watched and interrogated - this way I enjoyed spending some time in India and Lisbon as well as in my parents' living room. Specific gaps in our plans - usually structural ones - are picked apart by Gualberto, who rightly forbids stepping into the edit without sorting these out. In general most projects find they have the first and last 12 mins sorted but the middle bit remains stubbornly muddy. Each nationality present uses a different metaphor for this problem - I especially like Johannes' one of the structure being the 'tree trunk' which you only allow branches to grow from if they are in the right place. I love a horticultural metaphor.
The suffocating context of 'television hours' (actually 52 mins when you add the ad breaks) is also given short shrift by Gualberto - we are here to make cinema, not entertain the lowest-common-denominator by compromising our vision. All this sounds pleasantly arrogant in a way that really wouldn't happen in a UK-based workshop. We'd all just mumble about what it would be like if we were 'in an ideal world' etc.
As before, hearing an international peer group's response to your work is gold-dust. How else do you find out (in my case) that the British custom of sporting paper hats at Christmas is hysterically funny to every other nation, that what's a great joke in Switzerland just obstinately won't translate, or that Europeans really don't know the first thing about Africa. Not the first thing. So each project benefits from both support and criticism, and also recognises that there are new assets within them - ones that can only be recognised by outsiders - that can be developed and exploited.
The group also pitched in some brilliant foreign-language titles for my film, though the struggle to find the right English language title continues: In Spanish 'Una Famiglia miu Britannica' seems to work, as does 'L'Amour Vrai' in French.
Another delight of Sources2 is the cursory treatment given to the production / funding issues that tend to mire so many other professional development workshops for film. Film-makers love a chance to moan about money, and of course we all want to believe you can really learn how to make it, but it's a rare and precious delight just to put the real world aside and concentrate on imagining our own little utopias for a while, which is of course what making cinema - whether documentary or fiction- is about.
Many thanks to the Scottish Documentary Institute for supporting my attendence at Sources2