The CVB’s Production Workshop (Atelier de production) offers both budding and seasoned scriptwriter-filmmakers, the equipment, financial and human resources for their documentary film project.
A documentary film is anything but a news report or what you might call ‘objective information’. It puts emphasis on the filmmaker’s subjectivity, how they view the world and relate to it, and how this leads them to question it and dive beneath the surface to interpret it in ever new ways.
Films produced by the CVB cover a broad range of topics, from social issues, life stories and culture to economics and politics, with a particular interest in local realities, but not only. Form treated in an original and experimental way, a novel subject matter and an authentic approach are the common threads in the CVB’s productions as well as being at the very heart of the CVB’s workshop itself. The workshop also takes accounts of the space-time dimension required for a work to unfold, reflecting the development of the auteur’s vision.
The project behind the CVB’s Production Workshop continues the strong tradition which has been at the heart of Belgian filmmaking since its beginnings – documentary filmmaking that is perennial, rich in perspectives, as diverse and exciting as it is creative, and anchored primarily in social issues – in a contemporary filmmaking context where an increasing number of filmmakers are looking to fulfil their potential in a difficult economic climate.
The project aims to provide an appropriate, relevant and topical response to the two following questions:
How can we continue and nourish the story of Belgian documentary filmmaking while also innovating in terms of form and content in a society that is rapidly and constantly changing?
What measures, practices and frameworks can we put in place to offer filmmakers the best and most appropriate production conditions for their projects?
We therefore take special care in choosing projects according to evaluation criteria that meets the objectives and values of our association.
*Each documentary film project is studied in-house by a reading committee made up of Cyril Bibas and Joël Curtz (executive producers), Marc Jottard (production assistant), Claudine Van O and Philippe Cotte (in charge of distribution), and Michel Steyaert (managing director). Processing projects in-house enables us to maintain an editorial policy that meets the CVB’s objectives of publicly engaged and socially minded filmmaking and guarantees that auteurs and their projects are welcomed in the best possible way.
*Projects are studied according to whether they are ‘first- or second-time films’, or, for more experienced filmmakers, according to the innovative qualities of their methods, the themes and subject matter, their approach to form, how the audience is addressed and their potential for finding an audience. We also look at the financing possibilities, whether the workshop’s human and equipment resources are appropriate for the needs of the project and whether the documentary filmmaker is ready to engage in an ‘artisan’ approach to production.
*All projects have to refer in some way to the four main themes that cut across all the association’s activities: the private and the political, city and urban life, social issues and society, and art and culture.
The Production Workshop supports filmmakers and their projects from the director’s statement to the screening room. The main stages of this process are:
support for writing the script and production file – this stage involves a series of work sessions where the filmmaker and production workshop staff work together, supervised by Cyril Bibas;
support for understanding the stakes, practices and rules concerning filmmaker rights, production and co-production, financing, contribution, etc.;
support for finding the best resources for the project, at a national and international level, in commercial and non-commercial film circuits, and in the form of support or as a co-production;
support for finding the best technical and human solutions in light of the available means;
support for choosing and implementing a distribution strategy, taking account of the initial project and, of course, the end film;
support for the film over several years through a well-thought out and organised catalogue.
Although the technical aspects are important for producing a film, establishing a close relationship with the filmmaker and their work does not simply boil down to that. It is a philosophy, a code of ethics that puts the filmmaker, their film and its subject matter at the heart of the process. The goal is to enable a filmmaker – through the subject matter of their film, the way they deal with it and the audience they find – to contribute to making the world a more understanding and open place, where violence and cynicism take up less space. Documentary films produced with this in mind, make supporting filmmakers a political choice.