Launched in 2009, the CVB is now hosting its tenth writing workshop. At the beginning, it was reserved for filmmakers whose project was being developed at the CVB. It gradually opened its doors to external filmmakers, and is now designed specifically for them.
The SCAM (society of French-speaking multimedia authors) has been a writing workshop partner since 2014. The call for projects is advertised on the Maison des Auteurs and Bela websites. The selection committee for the projects received is made up of CVB members, the writing tutors from the workshop and SCAM multimedia authors.
Alongside the tutoring provided by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel (CCA), the CVB’s writing workshop is aimed at all types of project which have not yet received support from the CCA, including those carried by young filmmakers. The workshop also organises collective writing sessions, the only initiative of its kind found in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation workshops. These sessions are highly recommended by filmmakers who have already taken part in them.
Although the practical goal of these workshops is to enable filmmakers to write development or production documents, there is also a broader objective: to accompany scriptwriter-filmmakers, with a focus on research and the time needed to learn or for an idea to mature, and take them away from the ‘solitude of writing’ to offer them a group dynamic for working and thinking, enabling them to figure out their real intentions and make clear choices about their subject matter.
Lasting three months, the workshop alternates between group work and one-on-one sessions. Two full-time writing tutors are assigned to the three-month workshop, guaranteeing its success.
It is important to understand in what way documentary filmmaking is itself a form of writing process, given that it is strongly anchored in reality and the filmmakers vision of that reality. Documentarists share their own representation of reality as oppose to giving a supposedly objective word-for-word account of the world. They do not merely film the world, but ‘film their relationship to it, their individual bond with the world’ (Patrick Leboutte). Documentaries, also referred to as ‘cinema of the real’, therefore have a duty to innovate and experiment in terms of narrative and aesthetics: ‘Filming is not a natural thing. It consists of creating an image, making choices – the most visible of which are the framing, the editing and the questions that the person being filmed may be asked. More fundamental, maybe, is the filmmaker’s conscious decision to approach a subject with a precise idea in mind.’ (Denis Gheerbrant)
The first day of the workshop, when all the participants meet each other for the first time in the presence of the writing tutors and Cyril Bibas, is a pivotal moment. It is the first time that the group gets together and the different voices and sensibilities rise to comment on the project matrix of each filmmaker’s film. The subject matter of the future film as well as the intentions of the filmmaker are openly shared and discussed. This collective work is then replaced by a ‘one-to-one’ session with the tutor assigned to the filmmaker. Together they work on the questions raised by the group and start dealing with the text, its materiality and its coherence.
The mix of group and individual sessions and the interaction between filmmaker and writing tutor make the workshop an ideal place for working on the text and its capacity to carry meaning, share a point of view and invite the future spectator to actively engage with it.