With independent distributors closing up shop and many countries reavaluating their criteria for film subsidies, all the talk at festivals and symposia seems to be about how to get pics off the ground.
A multinational group of pic patrons is aiming to provide one means of entry for fledgling filmmakers from around the world, aiming to find, develop and produce “films that make a difference,” according to the org’s website.
Each year, DreamAgo selects 10 candidates to attend a screenwriting workshop in the picturesque Swiss town of Sierre. The selected writers are then connected with producers and others who can help get their projects produced.
The first project to be completed, “Tengri: Heaven’s Blue,” a French/German co-production, is the official entry for Oscar foreign-language consideration from Kyrgystan in Central Asia.
“The director (Marie Jaoul de Poncheville) used to do documentaries,” says DreamAgo founder Pascal Rey, “and she shot under difficult conditions. But the story’s so universal; I think that’s what I liked about it.”
Rey, a screenwriter and script doctor who lives in Paris, founded DreamAgo in 2005 with Soula Saad, a writer-director-producer of French-Lebanese descent. Since that time, four workshops have been conducted in Sierre, usually with 10 participants selected from a pool of about 100 applicants. Filmmakers Stephen Frears and Guillermo Arriaga are among the professionals who have signed on to work with participants.
The scripts, accepted in English, French or Spanish, are selected via four reading panels consisting of screenwriters, script consultants and producers in France, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S.
Marc Dahan, a British ex-pat who runs new York’s Pavaline Studios, is collaborating with DreamAgo to help filmmakers get their projects realized.
DreamAgo/Pavaline has a collection of more than 40 screenplays that have been worshopped and polished, says Dahan, who was inundated with pitches during the recent AFI fest and AFM.
The deadline for submissions to this year’s Swiss atelier, May 6-14, known as Plume & Pellicule, is Dec. 31. Those who make the cut need only pay for their flight to Sierre, with all other expenses covered, not to mention a lodging and work space set in an actual castle.
After their lab work is done, these scribes are given two months to rewrite their scripts and submit them to DreamAgo’s Meet Your Match program, which promises the chance to meet with producers and distributors to take their material to the next level.
Rey says Michelle Satter, founding director of the Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, accepted an invite to be on her advisory board. “(Satter) told me one day that we made her think of the early stages of Sundance in some way,” recalls Rey, “because we want to help make movies that make a difference, which was exactly the plan from the beginning.”