Professor Dr. Peter Sehr
Anne Christine Knoth, Program Coordinator
Quarter past one on a cold November day. A group of 18 hungry students rushes into the "Blauer Engel" restaurant on the Filmakademie’s campus, gushing in French and German, Spanish and English, bustling around, filling the air with excitement. A flurry of activity. At two o’clock everybody has to be back in class at the other end of the campus. The students of the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris enrich the image of the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg and contribute to its cosmopolitan charm.
The German-French Film Academy was established in 1999. On initiative of the then French president Jacques Chirac and the German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Paris film school La Fémis jointly developed the concept for an advanced training program: the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris. Since autumn 2001, this one-year postgraduate program for young European film producers and distributors has been enriching the Filmakademie’s curriculum. In 2007, the Atelier found an additional partner in the British National Film & Television School (NFTS).
On the German side, the program is run by Professor Dr. Peter Sehr. Marc Nicolas, Director of La Fémis, and Christine Ghazarian head the Atelier in France.
Renowned producers, experienced distributors and distinguished experts from the European film industry and institutions present their students practical examples of their current work and art.
Every year, 18 participants (six from Germany, six from France and six from other European countries) are educated in the areas of production and distribution for the European film market. Based on the very different systems of Germany, France and other European countries, the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris course aims at conveying comprehensive knowledge of project development, financing, budgeting, postproduction, exploitation, international distribution and marketing. Furthermore, the participants learn how to initiate co-productions and how to successfully market films in Europe.
The academic year begins in October with a phase of training in Ludwigsburg. In January, the program moves on to Paris. After visiting the Berlinale film festival in February, our students spend two weeks at the NFTS in London, followed by a four-week internship with a European film distribution company or a world sales agent. From April to early June, the participants spend five weeks in Ludwigsburg and Paris respectively. The Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris education program also includes various excursions, as for example to the film festivals in Angers and Berlin, and study trips as the ones to Munich with visits to Bavaria Film and Arri. During a visit of several days at the French-German culture channel ARTE, our students have the chance to gain valuable insights into the different editorial departments and structures of a European broadcasting station.
As a final project, the 18 participants produce a series of nine short films, co-produced and later broadcast by ARTE. From the beginning of the program, this final project serves as a leitmotif for the entire course. The students begin to work on their ideas and to select scripts in autumn. The final preparations for the production are carried out starting in mid-June, followed by filming and submission at the end of August. Each film is produced by a team consisting of two students of different nationalities – a valuable first experience in terms of international co-productions. Fellow students of the Filmakademie and La Fémis are in charge of directing, cinematography, etc. The heads of Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris and two commissioning editors from ARTE and SWR supervise every step in the films’ development. In the past years, our students` short films were presented at the Max Ophüls Preis film festival in Saarbrücken, some also at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. Usually in spring of the following year, ARTE broadcasts the works as part of its television program.
So far, 191 students from eighteen different countries have graduated from the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris program. The joint learning and working experience in this melting pot of ideas has created strong ties between students from all years. The alumni association Atelier Network maintains and strengthens this network of high-potentials, fostering relationships between former students, making it easier for them to develop ideas, plan co-productions and design the future of European cinema.
The following are just two examples of inspiring films that give proof to the Atelier’s success. In 2008, "The Stranger in Me", produced by Hanneke van der Tas (Atelier 2003/2004), premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to great critical acclaim. The documentary short film "Wagah" about a daily ceremony at the Indian-Pakistani border was awarded with the German Short Film Award in gold. "Wagah" was produced by the Atelier graduates Henning Kamm and Fabian Gasmia (Atelier 2006/2007).
It is common knowledge that economic integration alone is not enough to create a united Europe. A better understanding for each other can only be achieved through intensified and amplified cultural exchange. The role of film in this European project is undoubtedly a central one. Every year, 18 students from different parts of Europe learn in an European environment how to produce and distribute European films. With the Atelier Ludwigsburg-Paris we take an important step towards our common endeavor to promote this aspect of our cultural identity.
by Professor Dr. Peter Sehr