IDFAcademy 2015 Program

IDFAcademy, the training course intended for emerging documentary filmmakers and producers, running between 19-22 November, was received with great success. Eighty participants from 29 different countries were selected to attend the program that took place in the heart of Amsterdam.

You can listen to podcasts of three of the Plenary Sessions below. Or scroll down for an extensive report from the 2015 edition as well as full information of the program.

IDFAcademy Plenary Sessions

Blending Impact and Distribution


Finance Your Film, Find Your Crowd


Close Your Eyes (Sounds Real session)

IDFAcademy 2015 Report

The participants first met on Thursday November 19 in De Brakke Grond. After a short introduction by IDFA’s Meike Statema, the Young Producers were asked on stage one by one to introduce themselves. These six Dutch producers had been selected by the Netherlands Film Fund to participate in a special program at IDFA which included IDFAcademy. After their introduction the video’s that they made of their group of participants were shown. In these videos the participants answered such questions as "Who or what is an inspiration to you as a documentary filmmaker / producer?" and "Who would you like to have a drink with during IDFA?" It turned out to be a great way of getting to know each other from the beginning.

Besides the introduction of the IDFAcademy participants, DocLab Academy also introduced its participants. DocLab Academy is an international program for new talent in the field of documentary storytelling and interactive media. The 25 participants of DocLab Academy joined us for the plenary sessions in the morning and Saturday's small session "VR: Beyond the Rollercoaster". After the introduction, the program took off with a turbulent conversation between master Victor Kossakovsky and talent Tom Fassaert. After the session, the participants had the chance to meet up during the IDFAcademy welcome drinks.

On Friday morning the group woke up with coffee and croissants in the Compagnietheater, a former church-turned-into-theater located along the picturesque Kloveniersburgwal. During the plenary session "Close Your Eyes", Thomas Jaeger, Eva Mulvad and Peter Winther talked about the influence of sound and the collaboration between director and sound designer. Sigrid Dyekjær moderated this session.

After a quick lunch, the participants divided into two groups. One group went to Tuschinski to join the master class by Errol Morris. He talked with film theorist Bill Nichols about his own films and the Top 10 he put together for IDFA. The other group stayed at the Compagnietheater and followed the small session "Producing for Different Platforms" by Christian Popp and Sjoerd Raaijmakers. The sessions were followed by the Meet the Professionals round; participants could have one-on-one conversations with professionals or group discussions at the Round Tables. Afterwards some participants went to the Guest Meet Guest drinks. In the evening people could go to screenings of Man Falling (Anne Regitze Wivel, 105 min) or Ukrainian Sheriffs (Roman Bondarchuk, 80 min).

On Saturday morning the participants started with the plenary session "Finance Your Film, Find Your Crowd". Liz Cook (Kickstarter) and Kristen Konvitz (Indiegogo) shared strategies on how to successfully raise funds and build a global audience. In the afternoon everyone proceeded to one of the two small sessions, the "Pitch and Trailer Workhop" and "VR: Beyond the Rollercoaster". Participants from the projects 5 Houses, Salty Taste and The Letter had the chance to pitch their project and receive feedback by a panel of professionals including Mikael Opstrup, Jesper Osmund, Stefan Kloos, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Cynthia Kane. Mikael Opstrup surprised Tommy Gulliksen when he picked his name out of the moderators hat to be the fourth participant to pitch. After the small sessions the participants had the opportunity to talk with the professionals during the Meet the Professionals rounds and attend the Meet the Professionals Special with award-winning director Sean McAllister. The day closed with the Guests Meet Guests drinks.

On Sunday the 22nd, the day started with the plenary session "Blending impact & Distribution", moderated by Beadie Finzi (BRITDOC) and Rebecca Lichtenfeld (Bertha Foundation) and they talked with their guests Eszter Hadjú and Sandor Mester (Judgement in Hungary) and Anita Khanna (Miners Shot Down). They also invited Chris King and Maia von Lekow on stage to give them advice on a potential impact strategy for their project. After lunch the small sessions on this last day were "Sales, Secrets and Strategies" by Salma Abdalla and Robin Smith, and Jon Reiss gave the participants the knowledge and tools to create a distribution and marketing path in the small session "Making the Most of Marketing & Digital Distribution". During the first session Enrico Pacciani received direct advice from Salma and Robin on how to market his film Irrawaddy mon amour.

Again the participants had Round Table Meetings and One-on-One Meetings with professionals who were willing to help them with their projects. The Meet the Professionals Special was with the director of VOC at Vimeo, Peter Gerard. During the weekend the participants had the opportunity to have a general consult with Cecilia Lidin or Tue Steen Müller. They could ask them for advice about their projects and the Documentary Industry in general. The IDFAcademy 2015 was a great success and ended on Sunday afternoon with closing drinks.

Thursday, November 19 – IDFAcademy Day 1

Welcome & Introduction: Meet the Participants

Official welcome & meet and greet with all participants of IDFAcademy 2015 and IDFA DocLab Academy 2015.
13:30-15:00 | De Brakke Grond – Rode Zaal

Plenary Session: Master and Talent

The Industry Talks and IDFAcademy program kick off together with an inspiring conversation between renowned filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky and talent Tom Fassaert. Fassaert's touching and intimate film A Family Affair is opening IDFA this year, and Kossakovsky's early work has been a great inspiration for his developing career. What does the master think of Fassaert's work? How do they define their authorship, and how do they develop their film language?
15:00-16:30 | De Brakke Grond – Rode Zaal  

IDFAcademy Welcome Drinks

16:30-18:00 | De Brakke Grond - Rode Zaal

Guests Meet Guests (drinks)

18:00-19:30 | Café De Jaren

Friday, November 20 – IDFAcademy Day 2

Coffee and croissants

09:30-10:00  | Compagnietheater  –  Foyer

Plenary Session: Close Your Eyes

Close your eyes and listen to renowned sound designer/ composer Kristian Eidnes Andersen, who worked on many films by Lars von Trier and documentaries such as Something Better to Come, sound designer Thomas Jaeger and Danish director Anne Regitze Wivel (whose Man Falling is screening in the Sounds Real program at IDFA this year) talk about the work they have done to endow the films with its emotional narratives. At what stage does the collaboration between director and sound designer start, and how do you bring the creative processes together?
Moderator: Sigrid Dyekjaer (Danish Documentary)
10:00-12:00 | Compagnietheater  –  Grote Zaal

Small Session: Producing for Different Platforms

How do you handle the production and financing of your film if you are dealing with different platforms? How does this affect the creative process? Experienced producer for film, TV and new media Christian Popp (YuZu productions) talks with Sjoerd Raaijmakers, publisher for VICE Benelux, about being a producer in today’s market. IDFAcademy participants with a producer’s profile are especially invited to attend.
13:00-15:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal

Master Class Errol Morris

Director Errol Morris will talk with film theorist Bill Nichols about his own films and the insights offered by his Top 10 selection. The wide-ranging discussion will touch upon the role of interviews, which play an important role in Morris's work and are handled in different ways by the filmmakers he's chosen.
13:00-15:00  | Tuschinski 1  

Meet the Professionals

Round table meetings and one-on-one meetings with renowned professionals.
15:30-17:30 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal and Foyer  

Guests Meet Guests (drinks)

18:00-19:30 | Café De Jaren  

Saturday, November 21 – IDFAcademy Day 3  

Coffee and croissants

09:30-10:00  | Compagnietheater – Foyer  

Plenary Session: Finance Your Film, Find Your Crowd

Crowdfunding is a fast-growing method used to build audiences and financially support creative projects. Liz Cook (Documentary Film Lead at Kickstarter) and Kristen Konvitz (Director of film at Indiegogo New York) discuss the modern-day financial structures for film and how crowdfunding best fits into that landscape. They will share tips on best practices for running a successful campaign, including case studies from selected filmmakers from this year's festival to dive deeper into the details and share those experiences. This time will also be dedicated to discussing strategies and ideas for your campaigns so come with your ideas!
10:00-12:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal  

Small Session: Pitch & Trailer Workshop

The Pitch & Trailer Workshop, one of last year’s IDFAcademy’s biggest hits, is introduced by Mikael Opstrup. Film editor Jesper Osmund then elaborates on the makings of a successful pitch trailer by showing examples and offering explicit advice. Three participants get the opportunity to pitch their project and receive feedback from a panel including Stefan Kloos (Rise and Shine), Signe Byrge Sørensen (Final Cut for Real ApS) and Cynthia Kane (Al Jazeera America). Ultimately, the audience can voice its thoughts, suggestions and questions.
13:00-15:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal  

Small Session: VR: Beyond the Roller Coaster

Virtual reality is without a doubt the most talked about new medium. It triggers the imagination and its possibilities seem endless. But what are the VR opportunities for non-fiction storytellers? How can you construct a story as a filmmaker in a world that the viewer can explore on his or her own? What are the challenges and pitfalls that come with the various techniques? VR pioneers Ziv Schneider (RecoVR: Mosul), Jessica Brillhart (Google) and Thomas Wallner (Liquid Cinema) share their experiences and showcase their work illustrating the medium’s different approaches. Moderated by Katy Morrison (VRTOV).
13:00-15:00 | Compagnietheater – Zuilenzaal  

Meet the Professionals

Round table meetings and one-on-one meetings with renowned professionals.
15:30-17:30 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal and Foyer  

Meet the Professionals Special: Sean McAllister

Award-winning British director Sean Mc Allister (Japan, a Story of Love and Hate, 2008; The Reluctant Revolutionary, 2012) is at IDFA this year with his most recent film A Syrian Love Story. He was among the pioneers of “self shooting” which has led to some very intimate films. In this dialogue with the IDFAcademy participants, he elaborates on how his films explore wider political issues through the intimate relationship he forges with his characters, and by keeping the film human.
15:30-17:30 | Compagnietheater – Zuilenzaal

Guests Meet Guests (drinks)

18:00-19:30 | Café De Jaren

Sunday, November 22 – IDFAcademy Day 4

Coffee and croissants

09:30-10:00 | Compagnietheater – Foyer  

Plenary Session:  Blending Impact & Distribution

Until recently, Distribution and Impact were pretty much separate issues – and they came in that order. You made a film, you sold it to a distributor or a broadcaster and then separately you organised some impact work. There were two separate questions: Distribution asked ‘How can we sell the film to as many people as possible, making as much money as possible?’. Impact asked ‘How can we get the film to the people who really need to see it, so that we can make the most impact?’  The answers often led to two separate spheres of activity, usually by separate teams, which was inefficient and sometimes would lead to outright conflict. 
With the advent of the web, the overturning of traditional distribution windows, with more sophisticated approaches to impact strategy, there is the chance to do it all. Moderators Beadie Finzi (BRITDOC) and Rebecca Lichtenfeld (Bertha Foundation) describe this exciting new landscape. Featuring Impact case study from award winning documentary film: Eszter Hadjú on her outreach work in Hungary with her film Judgment in Hungary and Anita Khanna speaking about the campaign work in South Africa around the film Miners Shot Down. And featuring a live brainstorm on a new film project as we map out a potential impact strategy and identify possible partners.
10:00-12:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal  

Small Session: Sales, Secrets & Strategies

How can you make sure that you do not miss out on an opportunity to sell all the rights to your film? Sales and festival experts Salma Abdalla (Autlook Filmsales) and Robin Smith (Kinosmith Inc.) discuss this and how do you develop and use a successful festival strategy to launch the commercial life of your film. Moderated by Andrea Prenghyová (DOK.Incubator)
13:00-15:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal  

Small Session: Making the Most of Marketing & Digital Distribution

Taught by critically-acclaimed filmmaker and author Jon Reiss (Hybrid Cinema), this session gives you the knowledge and tools you need to create a distribution and marketing path for your films. Jon Reiss’s approach is a practical, step-by-step guide to creating a unique distribution and marketing strategy for your film. During the workshop, you will learn how to set goals for your release, the essentials of audience engagement, how to release your films digitally and timing factors in a release. In addition, you are encouraged to consider how your work fits into your entire career so that you can keep your audiences with you in the future.
13:00-15:00 | Compagnietheater – Kleine Zaal  

Meet the Professionals

Round table meetings and one-on-one meetings with renowned professionals.
15:30-17:00 | Compagnietheater – Grote Zaal and Foyer  

Meet the Professionals Special: Peter Gerard (Vimeo)

Vimeo's mission is to provide an online user platform for filmmakers to create, share and sell amazing videos directly to viewers worldwide. It offers numerous practical options for filmmakers and their films. But what are the best options for your film, and what are the conditions and requirements associated with these opportunities? Peter Gerard is director of VOD with Vimeo, but he is also a filmmaker. During this session he talks about how to optimize Vimeo's potential for documentary filmmakers.
15:30-17:00 | Compagnietheater – Kleine Zaal  

IDFAcademy Closing Drinks

17:00-18:00 | Compagnietheater - Café  

Guests Meet Guests (drinks)

18:00-19:30 | Café De Jaren  

IDFAcademy is supported by

Special focus program: Shifting Perspectives September 27, 2016 | IDFA presents series on O.J. Simpson as part of themed program Shifting Perspectives
Special focus program: The Quiet Eye September 20, 2016 | IDFA’s special focus program The Quiet Eye will investigate ‘slow documentary’, presenting documentary projects that take the experience of time in real life as their starting point.
Sergei Loznitsa to present Top 10 August 30, 2016 | This year’s IDFA Top 10 will be compiled by Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa. His latest documentary, Austerlitz, will have its world premiere at the Venice film festival and will screen at IDFA as part of a retrospective of Loznitsa's work.
IDFA Award at Docu Rough Cut Boutique August 19, 2016 | At last night's closing ceremony of the Docu Rough Cut Boutique of the Sarajevo Film Festival, the IDFA Award was given to City of the Sun by Rati Oneli.
The Vice Documentary Pitch at IDFA July 25, 2016 | VICE returns to IDFA to launch The VICE Documentary Pitch at IDFA, offering filmmakers a chance to win a commission from the VICE documentary team. 
IDFA Bertha Fund Concludes May 2016 Selection July 12, 2016 | Eleven documentary projects from countries including Sudan, Chile, Syria, Cuba, Afghanistan and Ukraine will be supported through IDFA Bertha Fund - Classic. The selection includes new projects by Maite Alberdi, Alisa Kovalenko and Manolo Sarmiento.


IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 1 day ago
RT @Lauravpress: O.J.Simpson series by @ezraedelman presented at @idfa 2016 as part of Shifting Perspectives
IDFAindustry @IDFAindustry 2 days ago
IDFA Award at CCDF7, CNEX Chinese Doc Forum, for People's Hospital by director CHEN Siyi and producer XU Ruohan.
VPROOxfam Novibde VolkskrantBankGiro LoterijFonds 21VSBfondsBeijing Documentary Development Association