Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Matt Porterfield, IFP Alum and director of PUTTY HILL, blogs about his first Berlinale

Director Matt Porterfield, whose film, PUTTY HILL, took part in Independent Film Week 2008, will be updating us all about his first time at the Berlinale. Stay tuned, and make sure to check out the film's Kickstarter page. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/puttyhill/putty-hill

I arrived in Berlin on Saturday with my producer Joyce Kim, after a long flight and an even longer layover. The snowdrifts in Baltimore were over 8 feet high, so the ice‐packed streets of Potsdamer Platz presented no challenge at all. We decided to plow through the day, working on 48 and 72 hours, respectively (though Joyce took a quick nap in the closet when we checked into our hotel).

Coproducer Steve Holmgren, and our publicist Thessa Mooij, had hit the ground running two days prior, so when we checked into the Forum Office we found that word‐of‐mouth had spread and the streets were talking, at least among the Berlinale
crowd. Of course, we were both overwhelmed: the scale of everything here is huge and the professionalism is unparalleled, yet everyone at the Forum had watched our film and had something pointed and thoughtful to say in support of it. We felt honored and appreciated instantly. It was obvious that this was a festival that loved film.

Jordan Mintzer, producer and co‐writer, arrived from Paris the next day and gave us a tour of the European Film Market. This, too, was a major culture shock – working in Baltimore in relative obscurity, one forgets that the cinema is a commodity; but at a market, where companies sell films like vegetables, you realize how small and blemished you are.
We haven’t screened yet, though our team has now assembled: Joyce, Steve, Jordan, Eric Bannat (producer), Jeremy Saulnier (DP), Marc Vives (editor), Devon Deimler (script), Sophie Toporkoff (production design), and me, director. Our press screening is tomorrow, we throw a party Wednesday, and our premiere is on Thursday; then we screen four times before the festival ends. The theatres are so big: 400, 600, 700 capacity! I can’t imagine how we’ll fill them. And, if we do, where my heart will be afterwards.

What else? Beer. Schnitzel. Kabob. Coffee. We thrive on free meals and screenings, and nap when we can.

I saw Claire Denis speak to the Talent Campus today and knew I was in the right place. To quote: “Retain the essential. Script and budget work parallel – otherwise there is always frustration. Organize one’s self mentally, to need things you can afford and to keep what you feel the film will be made of – your secret story, what you really want, what you can do in case your budget is in danger: a little secret of your own.”
Coincidentally, I talked to Amos Poe this morning and then watched him in a film tonight (BLANK CITY). Nick Zedd was in it, too. And John Waters. What does this mean? We’re all connected, those of us who work outside the system. And the strong ones survive, despite the incredible odds. That’s what the Forum’s all about,supporting new visions and new talent, and establishing a venue where even little films and independent filmmakers have access to the world’s stage.

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