In this, our second blog in the International Exchange series, Nisse Koltz from Station Next in Denmark, discusses the value of meaningful international exchange to both his organization and its students.
Station Next is a Danish film school for teenagers. We find that the International perspective is now important than ever before. Getting young people to adopt an international mindset – both culturally and economically – early in life makes good sense. Not only does their participation in international festivals and workshops depend on this, being internationally minded also enhances the standard of the films that they submit to the festivals. We feel that the journey in itself is inspirational, and it needs to be taken seriously as another part of a young filmmaker’s curriculum.
We send our students’ films to festivals around the world and several have won prizes in Norway, Sweden, Greece, Finland, South Korea, The United States, Japan, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey and in Denmark. We focus mainly on sending our students to participate in festivals where their films will be in competition or where the students will profit from the subject matter of the festival, even if they don’t have a film in the competition. We have stopped travelling to festivals that are purely a competition and an award ceremony. The personal connections and working together is what we find important.
Usually a festival will ask us to send one of our staff to accompany our students. If this is the case, we will frequently be asked to contribute by giving a lecture or hosting a workshop, sharing tools and methods that we have developed and use at Station Next. This often generates a great interest from other countries and we get a lot of enquiries and visits from colleagues and cultural gatekeepers from all over the world. Even though that is not our primary reason for doing the festival work, it is still a huge benefit for our school and our students. We are inspired and motivated by what we see around the world, and that benefits our students.
Our student, Tone, is a good example of how our students profit from participating in festivals. In 2013 she participated in The Fresh Film Festival. Station Next came in second place and Tone became friends with Casper Buijtendijk, the winner of the first prize, who is Dutch. Following the festival, they developed a script together online, and later Tone went to Amsterdam to work as a director for the film, which apart from the odd Dane had an all-Dutch crew. Subsequently the film has gone through the editing process in both The Netherlands and in Denmark. The final film contributed to the admittance of Caspar into the National Dutch Film School and in Denmark the film has been selected for the largest national film festival for young people. Tone and Casper are currently working together on a new international production – this time to be shot in Denmark, and we just love to see how our efforts with fundraising and travelling are paying off beautifully.
The Give + Take model is a good example of exchange; it involves one group of filmmakers shooting a film and then passing it on to another group to edit it. This model will work with the shooting team in one country and the editing in another or with the two teams in different rooms, as it is done at Fresh. The Give + Take model itself was conceived at an international gathering of film teachers and festival-people. Later Fresh put it in to use, and that in turn had the result of the two young filmmakers Tone and Casper teaming up across borders. Travelling to film festivals with young filmmakers rocks!