DIFF Daily 2011

Variety: Mixing genres in films is dangerous, experts say

Dec 09,2011 - 06:22 PM

BY BADAR SALEM

It seems that the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is determined to offer something new each year. This year, the fest’s Dubai Film Forum has introduced the “How to” series of sessions, which offers young filmmakers the opportunity to learn more about filmmaking basics including how to tell a story, finance, and sell your film.

The first session of the forum, which unspooled on Thursday, focused on the bare bones: storytelling and story development. The session discussed how a filmmaker, a producer or even creative partner choose which projects to get involved in and how can they shape their ideas into a story and eventually into a successful film.

Veteran producers Mohamed Hefzi from Egypt (whose pic “Microphone” picked up a Muhr Award for best editor at last year’s DIFF), Amy Hobby (“Secretary”) and Paul Miller from the US and Savina Neirotti of TorinoFilmLab attended the panel focused on the elements of storytelling, which was moderated by Dubai Film Market’s consultant Colin Stanfield.

Hefzi flew the flag for ‘simple’ stories, believing that even the most simple of ideas can make good films.

‘Personally, I am a big fan of simple stories,’ said Hefzi. ‘When you tell a simple story you have to be careful though, you need to be clear about where you want to start. You should have all the elements in place. Think of your film as a journey. It starts somewhere and moves towards a climax before it reaches the end.’

Additionally, speakers argued that, in order to be a successful storyteller, focus should remain on one genre, as mixing genres could, they said, easily backfire.

‘Always avoid mixing genres when you do a film or a novel for that matter,’ said Miller. ‘A film audience is smart - they’ll get the genre of your film in the first 15 minutes after watching. If they couldn’t tell what type of film they’re watching, you as a filmmaker missed your opportunity to leave an impression; you lost them.’

But what do filmmakers do when they are requested to remove parts of their scripts or are asked to reshape the story entirely, asked Stanfield.

‘As a producer you need to highlight the filmmaker you’re working with the problems or the limitations in his or her script,’ said Hobby. ‘They should trust each other in order to reach a mutual understanding of what to keep and what to change.’

Neirotti agreed: ‘As a filmmaker you need to keep an open mind, do listen to your producer’s suggestions, take the best part of that comment, process it and then decide whether you want to take a different approach or not.’

‘When a producer talks about audience, filmmakers usually think that they think money and that they will compromise their creativity or artistic vision,’ she added. ‘This is not the right attitude, there is always a room for discussion.’

More editions of the ‘How To’ segment of the DIFF are expected to unfold over the upcoming days including a session focused on film finance and a session focused on how to distribute pics.

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