East Silver is the largest digitized documentary market in Central and Eastern Europe, averaging 350 films per year available to Europe’s most active buyers, commissioning editors, distributors and festival programmers at the world’s biggest documentary arenas, including Berlinale Film Festival, Hot Docs and Dok Leipzig.
But what’s most unique to East Silver’s reputation is its continual support of the next wave of burgeoning East European doc-makers. Based in Prague, Czech Republic, East Silver programs its content from local filmmakers and the neighboring doc communities in the Eastern region. Through its accessible online application, any Eastern or Central documentary filmmaker with a finished film in-hand is encouraged to submit to the market. The result is a multi-culti perspective on life, culture and politics from emerging to established filmmakers.
This autumn, in addition to the market’s video-library, catalogue, and specialized on-line database, East Silver launched its TV Focus initiative. If bringing the market to doc-dealing festivals wasn’t promotional enough, East Silver is now packaging the docs straight to the networks, with the intent to reach at least 10 top-notch European broadcasters. In November, East Silver organizers began directly sending promising documentaries to suitable television slots – namely to buyers and commissioning editors, thus enlarging the exposure of East European docs to willing broadcasters. The titles are selected from East Silver’s extensive database and match the profile and criteria of the particular slot.
East Silver acts as a middleman between producers and networks, which means they’re still waiting for broadcaster response from the first round of mail-outs. But getting cozy with the networks is only half the task. Says East Silver organizer, Anna Kaslova, ‘it’s become apparent that we must work very closely with each producer to earn their trust, because we cannot yet guarantee the results.’ This relationship also raises the question of whether East Silver should act as sales agent for the selected docs, while at the same time forming a stronger face-to-face relationship with target networks.
As it stands, East Silver is looking at some 30 documentaries to send in smaller, topic-specific packages to carefully chosen buyers. The initiative is slowly evolving because, adds Kaslova, ‘we really have to study the slots and the actual needs of the programming. That’s why this simply cannot be a rushed process.’ Advice on buyers and broadcasters comes from informed colleagues, many of who annually participate in the East European Forum at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival in the Czech Republic. Kaslova is hopeful, however, as ‘TV Focus is potentially a great way to support producers who, for different reasons, are finding it rather difficult to locate a sales agent, but nevertheless make films which can succeed on television.’
East Silver TV Focus is open for submissions year round. More for info, please visit eastsilver.net