Magazine article Variety

Agents of Change

Magazine article Variety

Agents of Change

Article excerpt

Poland's New Horizons Fest mentors people who want to work in the industry, but outside of production

It may sound like an organization that teaches wannabes how to swim with the big fish in Hollywood. But the School of Film Agents, announced at the recent New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, is more an experiment in industry-building than a workshop for tenpercenters.

The School of Film Agents, or Sofa, is running Aug. 19-30 in Wroclaw, sponsored by a coalition of state-funded and private film agencies and cultural orgs from Poland, Germany, the EU and Eastern Europe. The org matches hopefuls with biz experts for two weeks of mentorship and training to develop ideas for strengthening the film biz among nations of the former Soviet bloc.

There are plenty of schools teaching people how to make films. But Nikolaj Nikitin, founder and director of Sofa, defines "film agents" as those who work within the movie business, but are not directly involved in production. Filmmakers need support in various areas, including film funding, promotion and distribution, as well as working with structures such as festivals, commissions, archives and education.

There were hundreds of Sofa submissions, with 10 chosen, including ideas to develop a crowdfunding website, collect data about films at festivals, and serve as an incubator to tyro filmmakers.

Nikitin considers such areas as crucial to a flourishing film culture: While a filmmaker might realize a project every two or three years, film agents discover and promote new talents daily. "Working in the European film industry for many years, I realized that there is no common training platform even for the top decision-makers in our field, where they could exchange ideas and experience," he says.

The aim of Sofa is to train those with promising ideas, then deploy them back to their countries as agents of change; all Sofa projects are targeted at adding a missing piece to a country's film industry. …

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