Sunday morning, Brussels National Airport. On my way to Zagreb Dox, for a week of documentary screenings, workshops, debates and info-sessions. I’m very curious to find out what awaits me.
I have to admit that in my former professional life I’ve never been a festival buff. As a producer, I never felt the urge to tell my own stories. I found my happiness in helping other (and more talented people) tell theirs. In a way, I think that my behaviour towards the documentaries I produced was a bit animal-like. I enjoyed the process of conceiving, happily went through the months during which the project grew and was preparing itself to be shown to the world, and then I gave birth with a smile. After a short while, however, I’d leave my pup in the hands of the cruel outside world, hoping that it would be well received and would make a decent life for itself. Very soon my intellectual hormones would then push me to start looking for a new partner to conceive another (hopefully) masterpiece. When the documentaries travelled to festivals, I waved them out but didn’t accompany them. A member of EDN’s executive committee phrased it like this: when the working day is over, the baker doesn’t eat cake. Well, this baker certainly didn’t.
I only went to festivals when there would be an industry event attached to it, and – once the business done – I would speedily return to my office where work of a very practical nature would be waiting for me. I have no doubt that be doing so I missed a lot of fun and – certainly – a lot of good documentaries. And maybe some drunk evenings too.
That’s why I’m so grateful that Zagreb Dox invited me for the full duration of the festival. Although I most certainly will disappear now and again in the dark corners of my hotel room to take care of EDN business (I really have to start writing that keynote speech for Rio’s Content Market!) I am fully intended to see a lot of films and talk to a lot of colleagues, finding out what keeps them busy, what makes them happy and what are the problems they are confronted with in this fast-changing media environment.
In relation to the growing on-line distribution of documentaries, there’s one issue that really interests me: how do we want to deal with our films in that environment? Do we work with aggregators, who either create their own platform or (acting as go-betweens) place the documentary on an existing platform (Amazon, I-tunes, Google Play…), whereby we have to accept the rules that are set by the other party, or do we as a community support platforms that might be less well-known, but on which the owner of the film him/herself decides at what price it will be made available? Or can both systems co-exist? Very much looking forward to hearing some opinions about that.
OK. Boarding call. I drain my cup of coffee, pick up my bookcase and set out for a week of adventure. Stay tuned. More to follow.