Documentary script writing Workshop PDF Print E-mail
15 exiting days with a memorable "Final Pitch"! Yaoundé 17 -28.05.2010 Goethe Institut.

Last April 2010, at the West African Film Festival „Écrans Noirs“ in Yaoundé Cameroon, I presented our documentary „Kinshasa Symphony “(directed by Claus Wischman, Martin Baer) for the first time to an “African public”. Together with Bettina Haasen (“Hotel Sahara”) we had been invited by the Goethe Institute to direct a 15 day Workshop. We introduced various documentary writing styles and the development of storyboard or picture and sound concept. In cooperation with Narcisse Wandji, initiator of the Woman Film Festival „Miss Mi Binga “, we finalised the selection of the participants at the beginning of this year. We particularly appreciated the professional team of the Goethe Institute Yaoundé. From director Mrs. Irene Bark, up to the technical manager Mr. Pipa, all of them are highly committed to their cultural program in general and to documentary film in particular. But above all, Marc André Schmachtel, cultural scientist and Thekla Worch, project assistant impressed us a lot by their sounded pedagogical approach and their authority. The Goethe Institute in the capital Yaoundé wants to promote and spread film culture in collaboration between German and Cameroonian film filmmaker, as a sign of self-determination and mirror of society realities. “In particular documentary film is seen as possibility of expression and own story telling“, says Schmachtel.
The topic of the Workshops was: „When the idea gets to film“. Pretty quick, at the beginning of the Workshops, we observed that most of the participants had problems to differentiate between documentary film and fiction, and further on, between cinematic essay, reportage and experimental documentary film. The aim was, to find its own topic and to make also the painful experience that each topic does not necessarily lead to a good film idea.

However most of them raised their starting idea into a deeper form of film treatment within these two intensive weeks, by following our concept and input but much more due to the lively exchange we had. The atmosphere and the output of the workshop got from day to day better, the writing processes from pitch to pitch more convincing. It was a perpetual switch between theory and practice. The Sound dimension, my proper domain, has been naturally near other technical matters, a very important part of the training. I always wanted African film professionals to be aware of the big chance of digital filming for the region, but on also the challenge in sound matters that filming with mini DV or mini HDV Cam which raises sound matters for professionals. Above all, I focueds on the degree to which sound is eventually able to participate in storytelling and how it might be more determined by the use of time, space, and point of view in the story than by how often the script mentions actual sounds.

The background of each participant had been diverse: some stand at the beginning of their filmmaker career, some just start to explore their artistic capacities right after the university, others are active female film maker mothers or employed with children and families. They all had the opportunity at the end of the Workshop to pitch under professional conditions their projects in front of representatives of the GTZ (German society for technical co-operation), commissioners of the Cameroonian television and local or African film producer. Five of those will attend the follow up workshop of Goethe Institute for co-producing development workshop. The Pitch session ended with co writings agreements and also some letters of intent. 5 of our participants had been selected, to participate at the second session of the co-producers Workshop in Yaoundé, for African and German documentary film directors and - producers of the AG Dok.

Bettina and I were absolutely inspired by the intensive exchange and have a high interest in addition, not to export a “European” way to do films in Yaoundé or some typical north- south exchange. Following workshops are already in planning. Bettina Haasen will direct this September, besides two other Africa-Doc experts, an advanced workshop for documentary Treatment writing in co-operation with the Goethe Institut and French culture Institute in Yaoundé. I want to mention my perception of an incredible determination and power spread by each of the 16 participants. It was for us also a big input to discover the vision of 16 African women, Cameroonian, but above all artists.