As previous attendees will attest, if you are serious about the business of film production, are looking to widen your international network and if co-pro is your thing, then selection for the Rotterdam Lab is worth its weight in gold.
BY NICK CUNNINGHAM
This year's sixteenth Lab programme offers 61 fledgling producers from 26 countries an array of key industry panels, roundtable sessions and networking opportunities with leading producers, financiers, distributors and festival heads/programmers working within the international film trade. Previous ‘labbies’ active at IFFR 2016 include Bettina Brokemper, whose Wild screens in the VPRO Big Screen Competition, Gilles De Schryver who will present Bevergem (The Natives) in Episodic/Epidemic and Brett Potter whose Jacqueline is in Bright Future.
This year's CineMart selection includes projects from three Rotterdam Lab alumni, Christine Alderson with The Devil Outside, Erik Hemmendorff with Jessica and Matheus Peçanha (Sick, sick, sick). Jaap Hermans, who attended the Lab in 2014 is a production partner on the IFFR short film programme This is Where Reconstruction Starts.
All Lab producers are nominated by 29 partner institutions that include the likes of ACE (Ateliers du Cinéma Européen), Proimagenes Colombia and the Sundance Institute. Additional partners in 2016 are the Arab
Cinema Center Egypt, Docskool (Clinik.Kathmandu) Nepal and the Singapore Film Commission. Lab activity runs to Wednesday February 3, with panels on the perennially tricky business of film funding, co-producing between European and non-European states and how to manage international private equity.
"A big part of Rotterdam Lab selection is about developing a larger network," points out Rotterdam Lab's Inke van Loocke. "We urge them to join in as many of the CineMart activities as possible and really get them to keep talking to people and build it up from there. That's what we get back from the producers when we ask them to do an evaluation. Also what they really value is the openness of the speakers we invite, who are more than prepared to share their experiences."
CineMart's Marit van den Elshout underlines the fact that the Rotterdam Lab isn't designed to be a picnic. The nominated producers may come highly recommended, but the business they are entering is tough and unforgiving and only the savviest, and those willing to adapt, will succeed in the long term. "Producers of the future will have to include a lot more new competences in their company plans and look at different creative and more entrepreneurial ways of setting up their businesses in order to survive, and the same goes for sales companies too," she stresses. "They [producers] will be taking on different roles. He or she may have to put a lot more effort and money into marketing during the early stages of development in order to find the right audience. Right now that seems to be the role of the distributor – but in future that is as likely to be the job of the producer."
Going to the Rotterdam Lab in 2005 was one of my most important experiences as a young producer
Alumnus Erik Hemmerdorff of Plattform Produktion AB (Sweden) told the Tiger Pro about his Lab experience. "Going to the Rotterdam Lab in 2005 was one of my most important experiences as a young producer. The Lab was international, open-minded and super intensive. Rotterdam and the festival was so nice and full of life and all the international professionals I ever wanted to talk to were there during the drinks. I decided there and then to try for CineMart the year after with the film Involuntary, a film me and Ruben Östlund had decided to shoot. I have been coming back to Rotterdam as often as I can ever since.