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“Nowadays you don’t hope to find money at those networking events or project pitchings. You are going to find potential partners and actually new friends, because filmmaking is very much also about personal relationships, trust and the ability to take risks together. Don’t forget to check the sense of humour, it will help in critical situations, believe me. And if you establish a mutual synergy, the money will come, it’s true. You will be confident of finding the minority grants from your local film funds, or even convince patrons to get onboard. And don’t underestimate partnerships with TV channels either, they are people first, and if they like your jokes, your motivation or your passion for your story, they will become your ambassadors, and one day you will find LOC in your letterbox. So to sum up, industrial meetings in the documentary field are mostly becoming human meetings with long-lasting business relationships".
To illustrate everything I have said above, I will share my personal experience of developing the documentaries I have produced:
Double Aliens (director Uģis Olte, Latvia-Georgia, 2015)
Ukrainian Sheriffs (director Roman Bondarchuk, Ukraine / Germany / Latvia, 2016)
Gladiators (director Arunas Matelis, Lithuania / Belgium / Ireland / Switzerland / Italy / Latvia / Northern Ireland, 2017)
Liberation Day (directors Uģis Olte and Morten Traavik, Latvia / Norway / North Korea / Slovenia, 2016)
Uldis Cekulis created the VFS FILMS independent production company almost 18 years ago, and later won the International Trailblazer prize at MIPDOC in Cannes, which recognises the best documentary makers. He has worked on almost fifty creative documentaries and author-driven primetime TV projects, both as a producer and sometimes as a cameraman. As producer, most of his films such as Roof on the Moonway, Theodore, The Deconstruction of an Artist, Double Aliens, Liberation Day and others have travelled and received awards around the world, including a nomination for the European Film Academy Documentary Award 2005 for Dreamland by Laila Pakalnina. To everyone’s surprise, the Lithuanian official Academy Award entry in 2012 was the creative documentary Ramin by Audrius Stonys for Best Foreign Language Film. The IDFA 2015 Special Jury Award went to Ukrainian Sheriffs by Roman Bondarchuk, which also became an official Academy Award entry in 2016, this time from Ukraine. He has co-produced documentaries with Ukrainian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Russian, German, Italian, French, Greek, Icelandic, Finnish, Norwegian and Georgian production companies. A big plus in facilitating his career was the EURODOC training programme, as well as the Institute of Documentary Film initiatives. He is a member of the European Documentary Network and European Film Academy. His other activities include tutoring at workshops in Europe and the Caucasus. Currently he is working on five feature documentary co-productions and two author-driven TV lifestyle productions.
For more information, please visit VFS FILMS