Thursday, January 31, 2008

2 Stephens & 2 Mikes at the BTC 6

I just got the BTC programme sched today and yay! I really have to hold my breath now and I am so overwhelmed, more like blown away. Much of the interesting talks and lectures collide at the same hour, so I guess its really a matter of choosing where you want to be and who you want to hear from the most. For the In the Limelight series are two British directors, Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, the Hours) will be discussing the art of filmic adaptation of novels while Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky) will talk about his method of improvisation. There has been a slew of biopics the past year, so I'm not surprised that there's a lecture on biographical films, in the forum would be Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) along with French actress Sandrine Bonnaire and filmmaker, Bernd Eichinger. Also in attendance in various lectures and events are Mike Figgis, István Szabó, Alex McDowell, Gustavo Santaolalla, Julie Delphy, Maria Schrader and Wim Wenders.

The overall theme for this year is “Screening emotions”- not that I lack any, maybe it would do me some good to immerse in it =) I look forward to the lectures on the Dark Side of Cinema and the showcase on Short Films Expand Cinema.

January with Janus

The whole process of securing your visa and other travel requirements at short notice has really maxxed me out. Its a nerve wracking experience, there's a certain feeling of dread whether you're really going or not. So there is no real cause to celebrate till you have your passport, visa, plane tickets, travel insurance, pocket money and yes - a map around Berlin, completely secured.

I have found it difficult the most the last two weeks. Most of the flights to Berlin are booked, prices have soared, work tasks are left piling up and tensions run high at home. Realistically, you can't expect everyone in your life to understand what a filmmaking talent campus is and what the BTC experience would mean to a filmmaker in southeast asia. We don't have much options around here do we? the most fun would be to chug beers at free embassy sponsored screenings =)

Alongside this, I also had to really work on my script and the pitches for the one-on-one with script mentor, Franz Rodenkirchen of the Berlin Script House. I can't wait to meet him. I'm familiar with one of his script projects- Hotel by Jessica Hausner which was part of the 2004 Cannes - Un Certain Regard roster. I found this film very atmospheric and emotionally understated, like all that air of mystery is holding every emotion back. Well, what can i say? Dark corridors leave me very distressed.


Some Tips in Traveling for the Berlinale Talent Campus
I'm sharing this because we went through a lot just getting there and almost NOT getting there is heartbreaking enough!

When you get the email from the Berlinale Talent Campus, don't celebrate just yet, better get on the phone and book a flight.

Most of the flights near and during the festival date get fully book once mid-January sets in. Securing a seat on a flight won't cost you a penny just yet. The important thing is, you have a seat available.

The prices will vary per airline and travel agency. I would suggest Royal Travels located at Sunvar plaza in Makati Cinema Square and Caravan Travels in Ayala for the Travel Insurance. Pero kung may suki ka na travel agency, e di go for it.

Okay the initial cost, you would have to shell out would be P300-P500 bucks for a certified copy of your flight itinerary from your travel agency. You would need this document on the next step which is calling the Germany embassy hotline.

Book an appointment with the embassy.
There is a PLDT hotline for this, setting an appointment is easier now and the interviews are scheduled through a database system. PLDT will charge a hefty per minute rate with the call center agent that will take your call. Make sure you have the following with you while on the phone: NSO certificate, your valid and renewed passport (note: you can't fly if your passport is expiring in six months), flight itinerary, email by the Berlinale Talent Campus which has the details of your official invitation, contact person in germany and hostel address. Once the agent books you an interview, make sure you show up for it and take the soonest date possible.

Embassy Interview:
Never come in late, you'll lose your slot. Worst if you reschedule and you're under a flight deadline then you're pushing it. Tough luck. The visa processing would take around 2 weeks or so (if there are no problems with your records). Be nice and courteous to your interviewer =) dress properly, but don't go overboard, don't come in a tux. Bring all your necessary paper work: passport, official invitation, flight itinerary, photo IDs (to their exact size and embassy specifications, they are strict with these guidelines) travel insurance, proof that you are who you say you are (if you are an actor, bring your playbills, write-ups, press releases, cultural related materials that bears your name). Have these photocopied and submit them to the interviewer for his consideration. Also bring the exact amount of cash for the processing fee. Utang na loob, walang sari-sari store dun para magpa-barya at maawa ka sa mga nakapila sa likod mo.

Wait a nail-biting two weeks for the result- if you get a visa or not. Let's say you do, then it wouldn't be so embarrassing to tell your friends that you are leaving for the Berlinale Talent Campus! BTW, the flight will cost around P60k-65k up for a round-trip fare on economy class (2008 rate)

Hey congratulations! not everyone makes it this far, every year out of thousands they will only select 300 or so and only 4-5 from our country. That's gotta mean something =)

So make the most of your time there, attend all the sessions you can! if you have questions, email me lang.