Attendance at this year’s RealScreen Summit (Washington, February 16-18) was up about 30% over last year’s inaugural effort. With close to 700 attendees (over a third being reps from international broadcasters), the event offered the anticipated opportunity to meet in a doc-only environment to talk craft and business.
Added for this year’s event, the Master Classes attracted an especially strong turn-out, and produced some of the more memorable quotes. Carol Fleisher of Fleisherfilm and Greg Diefenbach of Devillier Donegan Enterprises teamed up to coach filmmakers on working with executive producers. Diefenbach contended that the first order of business for an EP is to ‘do no harm,’ and he compared the class to ‘relationship counseling.’ In what is probably good advice generally these days, Fleisher cautioned against the risk of multiple partners. She also noted an added boon for prodcos using modern technology: ‘e-mail is not only a great thing for communication, but also for ass-covering.’
In the effective pitching session, Cafe’s Simon Nasht and Jonathan Stack of Gabriel Films offered sound (albeit harsh) advice for producers on getting the message across. Added Stack ‘the only difference between film and documentaries is we don’t pay our actors.’ The producing in HD session was also a lively affair, as digital devotees squared off against Kodak reps who were lurking in the audience.
As it is everywhere, convergence was on the lips of many at this year’s Summit. In one of the central meeting rooms, BNN’s Steve Rosenbaum observed that there used to be a guy on every street corner with a sandwich board proclaiming the Messiah was coming. That same sign now warns that convergence is coming. Home Page producer Doug Block of Copacetic Pictures summed up the entire internet experience when he observed that ‘attention is the commodity of the web.’
The event wrapped with the second annual Award for Innovation in Documentaries. Unlike last year, this year’s award was accompanied by a check for US$5,000. The winners were announced in an awards show which demonstrated the awesome power of technology run amok (or at least behaving very contrarily).
The second and third places went to the Academy Award nominated King Gimp from the University of Maryland Video Press (Susan Hadary and William Whiteford, executive producer Nancy Walzog of Tapestry International), and Cannibal Mites from Paris-based Mona Lisa Productions (coproducers Thierry Berrod and Quincy Russell) respectively.
This year’s ID winner came from Chicago-based Nomadic Pictures, for its remarkable film, Legacy. Nomadic principal Tod Lending and coproduction partner Daniel Alpert were not on hand for the ceremony, as the weather in Chicago was as cooperative as the video hardware on stage.
Partial Summit attendees breakdown:
Production services 40
Guild representatives 2
Where they were from: (Partial List)
United States 502
United Kingdom 37
South America 8
South Africa 3
Republic of Ireland 1