DOCS BY THE SEA. LAB: JULY 11–21, FORUM: AUGUST 18–26
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Masterclass Series Highlights: Festival and Distribution Strategies with Irena Taskovski

Masterclass Series Highlights: Festival and Distribution Strategies with Irena Taskovski

July, 20 - 2022

Irena Taskovski is the founder of Taskovski Film Training, developed to keep the European and world cultural & documentary industry up and running in this new pandemic scenario and beyond, and to enable their participants to have access to knowledge, connection to film industry colleagues, and develop perspectives on the new reality. 

This Masterclass talks about strategies on distribution and festival submission, especially in relation to her own experience with Taskovski Film in getting many different films to circulate around the world. Irena has been producing, distributing, and do planning for film professionals for 20 years.

Watch the YouTube record here.

Can you share a bit about your experience working with Asian filmmakers?

We love to find good films and good stories, so for us it doesn’t really matter where the films come from. When we like something, we can make it happen for that film. However, the truth is, different parts of the world are interested in certain stories from different parts of the world.

It’s always good to question yourself, why your film, even if it’s about your family in Indonesia, or if it’s about some issues that most possibly only relevant for Indonesians in one way, can be also relevant in other parts of the world, because every single film has that. 

This is the art of pitching. Pitching is a form that we use when we want to present your film to people, so that they can get you funded. You need to pitch when you have finished film, because you want festivals people, buyers, to be attracted to it. That’s the art of pitching. How do you say what your film is about? In one training we do in Taskovski, it is to ‘look into deeply’ on the core of your story, then how to present this core into the world. 

Everytime you want to present your film, always think between the lines. Every single story has its local aspect, but we can always, if you look deeply, find universal points that can be presented to people outside of your country, to make your film travel.

Would you advise first-time documentary producer to go through series of script development labs before getting started, or just go and try to find their own funding?

Basically, going to labs or funding the films, you can go do it in parallel. You need to be able to say how ready your project is to go out there and look for the funding.

Check international funds to see if you’re eligible. If you are, check their application form and what is it that you need to write about the film. See if you feel confident enough that you’re able to put it together now. This will be an answer to you whether you need to go to further labs or not. 

Labs, some of them are for free, some of them you need to pay, that’s also the thing for you to decide. Do you have money for it? Can you just really go? If you have money and you have the chance to go, then why not. Every time, you can learn something new. You also meet people from other parts of the world who can potentially become your future collaborators.

How to effectively craft an ideal promotion to get funding?

It’s a big question, but it’s very subjective too. 

We will need to know more about your film. If maybe you tell one line about it, we can think of the best image we can use to present this film. 

In terms of promotional materials, because of budget restriction, you don’t need to spend money printing a lot of posters. It’s enough to create something attractive, which can be in different formats. 

Currently many people start using QR code. You create materials and you can send it as a PDF file or a picture in your email. One day if your film gets selected in festivals, then you can print few posters, but most of the time it will only function digitally, which makes it more ecological and more economically accessible. 

Nowadays, people don’t really want to carry anything really. For example, instead of DVD, now we have protected Vimeo links through which you can send your film for people to review. I think you don’t have to make too many different things. The most important is to write a good synopsis and choose few good images that you can use to represent your film. 

You also need to write something that talks about your motivation as director, why you wanted to make this film. There’s also press kit, containing information that needs to be put together if you have a world premiere, so that you can send it to journalists, and they can know more about your film and write about it.

Can I apply to join the training in Taskovski if I don’t have any project in hand?

Yes, you can. We offer different training programmes. For example, if you want to learn about distribution, you don’t need to have a project. You can just learn on how distribution works, or you can also maybe learn to try getting the job on distribution. 

If you want to join development training or workshop, which is working on specific project, then yes, you’ll be applying with the project. In that case, if you don’t have a project ready, you can always come as an observer. You can also learn just by listening to stories from other people, and comments or feedbacks from experts.

What do I do if I want my film to be submitted to Taskovski Film? What are the steps to take?

What we need for a film to be in distribution is a rough cut stage. We also need to know if you have a TV cut. Most of you would be making films that are feature-length documentary, 90 minutes, but in order to sell your 90-minute film to TV stations they would ask to have 52-minute or 58-minute versions, so it will be need to be cut into a shorter version. 

Also important to know, if your film is ready to be submitted to festivals, you should check the deadlines of other big festivals that are coming. For us, we have a list of all the film festivals around the world we work with, and we list all their deadlines so that we won’t miss anything. There’s also a website called FilmFreeway where you can register and they give you deadlines of film festivals happening around the world. 

So, basically you can send us an email with a link of your film, we’ll review the film, and we’ll get back to you to say if we can consider it for distribution. We’ll also ask you some additional questions if we’re interested, such as: Do you have TV cut? What have you done about festivals submission? Do you clear all the rights regarding your film? This will help us to get to know your films better.

Explore more about what Irena and her team are doing in Taskovski Film on taskovskifilms.com, or contact her through irena@taskovskifilms.com.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.