Blog: Set psychology and co-pro opps

From Berlinale, Devonshire Productions producer Paula Devonshire talks production motivation and meetings with producers from major European production centres.
Paula Devonshire-1

Five TIFF 2012 Studio participants attended the co-production market and other events at the now completed Berlin International Film Festival. They’ve been blogging about their experiences and insights gained from conversations with international producers and industry execs. Here, Devonshire Productions producer Paula Devonshire talks psychology on the set and navigating meetings with producers from Berlin-Brandenburg, Paris- Ile de France, Madrid and Rome.

Check out more blogs from Berlinale here.

Day Two at the Co-production Market began with the panel discussion: “TV Series – the New Promise?” with Paul Trijbits (U.K.), Peter Nadermann (Nadcon, Germany), Jean-Baptiste Babin (Backup Media, France) moderated by Magus Entertainment president Peter Wetherell. The panel discussed the high production values and high concepts currently being used in the latest generation of television series that were previously only the domain of feature films. This new trend of feature-level actors, directors and producers making great TV is predominantly a trend seen in the U.S. and is not the norm in Europe.

The panel was followed by Theme Talks that offered a choice of “Blurring Borders – New Players and Prospects for Children’s Film and Media Content” and “Psychology on Set – the Secrets of Motivation”. Given that I largely produce horror movies, I didn’t think I would get much out of the Children’s panel so I opted for “Psychology on Set.”

Panelists Marcus Loges, a renowned production manager (Cloud Atlas, Flightplan, Speed Racer) and First AD Scott Kirby (Inglourious Basterds, V for Vendetta, The Bourne Ultimatum) discussed motivational skills used on set. The discussion was facilitated by Katriel Schory, the head of the Israeli Film Fund.

Katriel told a very interesting story about a director he worked with who directed entirely from the monitor using a megaphone to communicate not only to the crew but also to the cast. As insane as this sounds, I actually witnessed this same approach on a show in Canada. Not surprisingly, this technique was not a successful one in either case. Both directors quite quickly succeeded in alienating the entire production. The best advice to producers, directors, PM’s and AD’s seemed to be that communication and respect are the key motivators.

My last day in Berlin was spent at the Capital Regions of Cinema (CRC) meetings. Twenty Canadian producers were chosen based on their international profile to meet with producers from each of the following regions: Berlin-Brandenburg, Paris- Ile de France, Madrid and Rome.

This year, Canada was a special guest at the CRC. Veronique Le Sayec of Telefilm Canada and Carole Vivier of Manitoba Film and Music facilitated this event. Producers were more or less thrown together in a large room to seek out their meetings with sales agents and distributors from each of the regions roaming around the perimeter.

Veronique had kindly provided us with the CRC catalogue last week and wisely advised me to read through all 96 pages in advance. During every spare moment (generally at 2 a.m.), I plowed through those 96 pages and Veronique’s advice paid off. After an afternoon of meetings, I walked away with two excellent co-pro opportunities. I usually say, if I walk away from the day with one good meeting, it was worth it.

The Studio program is TIFF Industry’s first year-round program, open to Ontario-based producers and aimed at developing next-level creative and business skills and knowledge of the global marketplace through panels, programs and seminars with Canadian and international film experts.