I had the privilege of being invited to the Talent Lab in Iceland this year, and just returned from what was an unforgettable trip. There are many of these “Labs” or “Campus'” around nowadays, all inspired from the original Talent Campus hosted by the Berlinale. This version is more intimate (Talent Campus as an example has hundreds of participants) which was great because I got to know pretty much all of the people who had come from around the world to do the workshop.
Basically the formula is the same no matter where you go. Emerging filmmakers are given lectures or talks by industry professionals, and have the opportunity to engage in conversation with them. It’s great because there are very few other places someone who is not established can chat with filmmakers who have gone through the trials of production time and time again and come out the better for it. We got to meet Academy Award winning director James Marsh, listen to a masterclass by art house icon Bela Tarr, and although it had nothing to do with film, I even got to meet the President of Iceland and the First Lady.
I also took part in a pitch session of the Lab which got me in front of a few professionals to present my project ‘Path of Light’. The pitch went well, and they had lots of questions about the concept, all which seemed to be good signs I am on the right track with this story. The process of just getting that pitch ready has solidified many of the ideas that I have actually – I find it always helps to simply talk your way through issues rather than only dealing with them on paper (or computer for that matter). I didn’t get a chance to show them my ever growing pre-production scrapbook though, which is a shame, because it’s turning into something quite interesting. It’s the first time I’ve put anything like this together, and I think it’s a great way to explore an idea. Thanks to Academy Award winner Danny Boyle who suggested this to TIFF 09 Talent Labber Tamara Scherbak who then passed on the suggestion to me. I didn’t even attend that Lab but still got some great advice!
Beyond the Lab, Iceland is an unbelievably interesting place to visit. I didn’t have nearly enough time to do sightseeing, but one unforgettable trip through the Reykjanes Peninsula by very personable and knowledgeable guide Thorsteinn Gunnar Kristjansson of Salty Tour whetted my appetite to come back. I can truly see why films go out of their way to shoot in Iceland, especially those looking for an otherworldly setting like Ridley Scott did for his upcoming Alien prequel (or perhaps not) “Prometheus”.
All in all, just like it was when I went to the other island seminar (the much warmer Barbados for Caribbean Tales) it was over far too fast. I hope to make it back to this alien world someday, but for now I will have to settle for the the memories I am sure will form into some kind of sci-fi film idea.
Special thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts that awarded me a travel grant to take part.