Sunny Side’s Producer Training Programs

Interview with Heidi Fleisher, documentary film producer and Sunny Side consultant

With its 25 years of experience, Sunny Side of the Doc can make its expertise available for training and cooperation purposes with emerging countries and therefore facilitate access to the international doc scene to talented filmmakers and producers.

In addition to the training workshops organized in 2014 in Beijing, Seoul and Rio de Janeiro, Sunny Side also plays the role of facilitator for young doc professionals in France by giving them opportunities to meet key players in the documentary industry.

Among the team of Sunny Side trainers involved to encourage, support and assist documentary professionals, you will find Heidi Fleisher, in charge of developping training programs for foreign producers.

A good occasion to better understand what is at stake!

Heidi_Fleisher_300Question: What types of training initiatives have you been developing with Sunny Side of the Doc ? What’s the main objective ?

Heidi Fleisher: In 2014 we started a series of training programs for producers in Brazil, China and South Korea in order to familiarize them with the international documentary community. Our primary goal was to provide them with an overview of the system, practical advice and tips that allow them to navigate the marketplace, with an emphasis on encouraging producer-to-producer relationships. The methods include master classes, workshops and hands-on mentoring with a variety of industry professionals on topics such as: Storytelling & Writing; Who does What; Alternative Financing; Business Affairs; When, Where & How to pitch; Trailers & Marketing Materials; Distribution, etc. The overall objective is two-fold: in the short-term we work with the producers to develop a specific project with international potential, but we especially endeavor to provide them with insight and tools that will help them progress and evolve throughout their production career.

Q: What are the key skills today’s producers need to succeed in producing high quality international co-productions ?

HF: Before seeking partners outside their borders the producer needs to fully master the production process in their national market. And then it’s a question of tenacity and will! International co-productions require additional time and effort, as well as an open mind, strong work ethic and solid relational skills.

Q: Have you identified new emerging countries in demand for Sunny Side training and coaching programs on documentary film production ? And what’s on the horizon for 2015?

HF: We will continue on-going training programs with Brazil, China and South Korea, and are discussing new initiatives in other areas of Asia and Latin America, as well as in South Africa and the Middle East. In terms of genres, we’d like to include more interactive documentary projects in our workshops in 2015. We will also be hosting on-site coaching programs for foreign producer delegations in La Rochelle directly before Sunny Side of the Doc.

Q: Let’s talk results. Can you share concrete examples of documentary projects that have benefited from Sunny Side workshops organized in China, Brazil or South Korea in 2014?

HF: The most immediate result is seeing how a project evolves from the beginning of the workshop until the end, and that’s always extraordinary! It’s also very exciting and encouraging to see many of the producers who participated in our trainings go on to find partners. Some examples:

After pitching their projects at Asian Side of the Doc, Qianying Film (China) obtained a pre-buy from France 5 for their project “Ladder to Paradise”, Star Era Media (China) signed a co-production agreement with Georama (France) for their film “Unwed Mother“, and Century Image Media not only signed co-production agreements with Yuzu Productions (France) and Trueworks, Inc (Holland) for their project “China’s Van Gogh”, but have also received pre-buys from DR, CBC, and Yes Docu and will be pitching the project at the IDFA Forum in November!

Meanwhile from Brazil, Feel Filmes signed a co-production agreement with Day for Night Productions (France) for their film “Diana without Borders” during Sunny Side of the Doc, and others are being negotiated.