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San Sebastián: Nurturing New Talent – Some Key Points

Fest's Industry Club and Variety offer a round table on talent

SAN SEBASTIAN — How to find, foster and work with new talent? These questions were tabled at Nurturing New Talent round table on Tuesday hosted by the festival’s Industry Club and Variety.

Panelists packed an international punch: Wild Bunch sales Eva Diederix; “Lady Macbeth” director William Oldroyd; Barcelona-based producer Valérie Delpierre, behind Spain’s Oscar entry “Summer 1993”; leading Basque producer Xabier Berzosa, behind San Sebastián competition player Handia”; and top Chilean producer Augusto Matte at Jirafa Films (“Los perros”) and now also Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Fabula.

Some key takeaways:

New windows incubators?

“I find funny things on YouTube, but it does not look to me to be a good place to find talent,” Berzosa said, mentioning traditional sources such as festivals and cinema schools as far better sources. Talent’s locatable in the same places as 20 years ago, despite Netflix, other panelists agreed.


Useful and striking sometimes, shorts are not always a guarantee of a brilliant first feature, Diederix observed. There are few bigger breakthrough Latin American shorts of late than Chilean Francisca Alegría’s Sundance winner “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye.” But Matte, now producing her first feature, said, he already knew about her before the short came out.

The Rub: Screenplays

For almost all the panelists, new talent’s main calling card and selling point is a screenplay. Teaming directors such as Aitor Arregi (“Handia”), Jose Mari Goenaga (“Loreak”) who also serve as producers and scriptwriters, Berzosa’s production company Irusoin works along slightly different lines,  emphasizing a more visual approach from the beginning. “Trust and patience are crucial. People are used to demanding speed of new talent. Many times this is impossible to achieve,” Berzosa said.

Oldroyd –whose ·Lady Macbeth” was penned by playwright Alice Birch, adapting a Nikolai Leskov Russian novel– emphasized the importance of the screenplay saying that the main difficulty he faced on his debut was attracting a suitable creative team with a budget at $342,000. The script helped.

First feature directors want to say everything with their debut,” said Matte. “So intense development work on the script is vital,” he added.

Sales Agents Boarding Projects Early

Diederix regretted the fact that sales agents often board movies when they’re already finished and locked by the producer and director. It’s far better to work with new talent from early development, she argued. But sales agent-new talent relationships are challenged. They have to be based on deep trust, because the differences in languages can be very big,” Delpierre added.

Development Labs: Risky Business

Matte took issue with development labs which can homogenize projects or graft multiple different visions onto a project. Diederix said she wasn’t confident about some labs understanding of real markets and audiences.

Co-production forums, in contrast, were for Matte an optimum tool to find partners to build a features, though not all potential partners are ideal for a project. “You have to take these events calmly,” he advised.

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