Last night I went to a Skillset event in preparation for the Berlinale Talent Campus in February. The UK ‘talents’, as we were described, were invited to the Royal Society of Arts in London to meet up, get tips on how to negotiate the festival and get the best out of it, and practice our ‘speed networking’. This is like speed dating, and the idea of it fills me with icy stomach shrivelling terror. Apparently there’s a lot of it at the Berlinale.
First though we had some dutch courage and a bit of mingling, before getting talks from the Skillset staff (Peter Peplow, Kristen Platt & Claire Doughty ) and two of the previous Talent campus attendees, Asitha Ameresekere and Tristan Daws. All of them were incredibly enthusiastic about the Talent campus and the benefits it could bring, and all had (sometimes contradictory) advice about what to do in order to survive / exploit it best. The tips they gave are pretty useful whichever film festival you attend, so I’ll repeat a few of them here below…
The tips included: get business cards, take earplugs, arrive early, stay late, talk to everyone, blag whenever possible, take vitamin C, plan your schedule like a military operation, take a project to pitch/don’t take a project to pitch, watch / don’t watch films at the actual film festival, go to the good parties (Shine and Dine, and the closing night party at the talent campus), take warm clothes (it’s -12 at night apparently), wear fancy clothes under your warm clothes in order to not have to go home to get changed, take headaches tablets, get show reels made, mainline redbull, take snacks as you’ll never have time to eat, take an eye mask, don’t sleep except when the talks are boring, speed network like a demon.
Eventually we did get round to the dreaded ‘speed networking’ and actually it was OK.
I love talking to people but get quite nervous when I have to network so this policed bonding session worked quite well for me, even with the awful overtones of enforced and slightly strained jollity. Interestingly around 75% of the ‘talents’ there were directors, with a smattering of DPs, editors, producers, actors and precisely no journalists, so anyone who wasn’t a straight live action director was an interesting oddity. In comparison with Cannes where people instantly moved on / glazed over the moment I mentioned the word animation (let alone animated doc) the talent campusees were really open and interested in a much more eclectic mix of work. Or maybe it was the freely flowing wine.
Whatever, I met some lovely people whom I’ll be happy to catch up with in Berlin in a couple of weeks, and hopefully I’ll be able to forge some fruitful work connections when I get there. The evening overall was really worth attending (despite the mad dash from teaching all day at Wolves Uni to London for the 6:30 start – I was late, predictably), and gave me more confidence about going to Berlin and hopefully it has armed me with the knowledge to get the most from my time there.