Labbies unleashed

By Nick Cunningham

Two Rotterdam Lab participants, Dutch producer Loes Komen of N279 Entertainment and Manuela Blandón from Colombian outfit M Cinema, talked to PRO online about masterclasses, networking and Student Oscars… and how to transport a horse.

As apprentice to leading Dutch and international producer Els Vandevorst, Loes Komen has already gained a lot of experience. Add in a Student Oscar, won last year for When Grey is a Colour (Marit Weerheijm), and you begin to understand why she is considered a significant talent for the future. That said, she underlines the enormous value of her 2018 Rotterdam Lab experience.

"I knew a lot of the stuff that we were discussing, but it is so good to talk and listen. I have heard about ten projects and ten different finance structures and have made 60 new friends, so my network has expanded enormously over the past five days," she says. "And we heard so many inspirational talks, such as Katriel Schory from the Israel Film Fund. He gave an hour but everybody was in awe, and he gave us some quotes that we are still using together in the Lab now."

Rotterdam Lab 2018

Rotterdam Lab will welcome 59 participants from 28 countries to its 18th edition

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  • Loes Komen

"And I really like the fact that while you are talking about stories and pitching, you are thinking about what you would do differently. But it is also very nice to step back and reflect a bit. You are away from your normal life and have five days to think about where you plan to go, and what projects you want to do," she adds.

Komen points out how she is continually on the look-out for Dutch directors and writers to work with. She is currently in post-production on the short film Walls by Marit Weerheijm and in development on an as-yet-untitled film (for NTR Kort) about a frog who, after turning into a man, decides he wants to be a frog again.

As for the Student Oscar, she is reluctant to use it as a calling card. "Ido Abrams [EYE] always says you should give yourself a context, but it is a weird thing as I like to be a bit more modest, but of course he is right. But then again, you are only as good as last your last film."

Colombian Manuela Blando secured her Rotterdam Lab slot after her inspiring pitch at the Bogotá Audiovisual Market for the project The Last Paisa Man. The road movie, in development, tells the story of a man who must collect a horse by foot from the city within three days in order to save his house.

"I want to know people and create connections because the Colombian industry is growing up. I want to make this first movie happen, so CineMart is a very good place to start to learn more about the industry, like post-production, sales, distribution and pitching, all of which we did at the Rotterdam Lab."

  • Manuela Blandón

She adds: "It is a place where you can open your mind and exchange knowledge and therefore this is a remarkable and important festival for me, We learned a lot of things, the pitch training was very professional, and you can talk with all the mentors who are so generous in telling you what they know."

Blandón is confident that she will be collaborating in the future with the labbies of 2018. "Everybody was so professional and open and we discussed co-production for the future. I have a lot of cards from the people."

Rotterdam Lab

The aim of Rotterdam Lab is to provide emerging professionals with the means to build and develop an international network.

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The great Belá Tarr may have kept a very low profile at the festival but Blandón tracked him down and gained a crucial piece of advice when taking selfie, which she is happy to share. Never go for portait. Always do landscape. "It's more cinematic."

Photo in header: Rotterdam Lab participants 2018 © Melanie Lemahieu