ACO go to FEST 2015
FEST – Training Ground, an intensive learning forum in Film. Taking place between the 23rd and the 28th of June 2015, in Espinho, Northern Portugal.

5:00am on route to Gatwick airport, thinking of the time ahead, just over 2 days in sunny, sunny Portugal.

I had been asked by Peter Cavaciuti to step in for him and to cover the ACO as guest speaker at the FEST (New Directors, New Films Festival)– in Espino, 20km south of Porto on the Atlantic coast, Northern Portugal.

FEST is a small festival dedicated to young directors, attracting around 450 people every year with various degrees of experience and a diverse range of nationalities.

In its 7th year, the festival is divided into 3 areas:

-Film Competition- 
FEST holds a Short/Medium Film and Feature Film Competition:
The Short and Medium Film Competition accepts short and medium length films made by directors with no more than 30 years of age (including) on the last day of production, no matter their nationality.
The length of these films must not exceed 54 minutes.
The Feature Length Competition accepts films from directors who are on their first or second production (regardless of their age)

-Masterclass from Industry Professionals-
FEST – Under the name of “Training Ground” hosts over 25 master classes and 10 workshops during the festival, and is an educational event where the public, upcoming filmmakers and film students from all over the world, can attend a range of workshops and master classes. Lectured by some of the Film Industry’s top experts with highly acknowledged achievements, the experience is world-renowned.

This year speakers were:
Peter Webber: Director, Melissa Leo: Actress, Guillermo Navarro: ASC Director of Photography, Gareth Willey: Producer, Fernando Trueba: Director, Barney Pilling: Editor, Cynthia Hargrave: Producer, Peter Doyle: Digital Colourist, Paul Miller: Producer, Eddy Joseph: Sound Editor, Kammi Naghdi: Film and Media Lawyer, Camile McCurry: Talent Agent, Chadi Zeneddine: Director, Sophia Al Maria: Scriptwriter, Angela Bosch: Film Sales Expert, Emjay Rechsteiner: Producer, Sean Gascoine: Talent Agent, Manuel Claro: Creative Europe Media desk Portugal, Rachel Robey: Producer
Irena Taskovsy: Producer and Sales Agent, Nuno Fonseca: ICA
Scandar Copti Director, Guillermo Garcia-Ramos: Screenwriter, and yours truly.

-FEST Pitching Forum-
A unique opportunity for filmmakers to present their projects to top industry producers, who are looking to finance, produce or develop new projects. In a 5 minute pitch, each participant will be asked to unwrap their project, in whatever way seems more appropriate.

10:00 am arrival in Porto, (well at least flying this early there are no delays with EasyJet!)

Pick up at airport and driven to Hotel by lovely Anna, the day is looking good…

Hotel disappointment, my room is not ready! And it won’t be for another 2hrs. :( 

Change of plans, decided to head for the festival venue “Centro Multimeios de Espinho” and meet the rest of the FEST team.

After customary coffee in the foyer and waiting to be introduce to my “Host” I witness the warm and friendly disposition of a very popular Guillermo Navarra ASC.

He delivered his Masterclass the day before and now is saying goodbye to the festival attendees.

It seems he has had a great time and his Masterclass was so far, the highlight of the “Training Ground” Section.

I was assigned a young 21 years Old Portuguese film Director Bernardo Lopes to help me out and guide me through the process. His expertise at this type of events was invaluable as he made everything very easy.

For the next 4hrs, we worked together the format of the Masterclass, as I wanted to create as much audience participation as possible, during my allocated time. The chosen theme was: “Camera Operators, Technicians? Or can they contribute to the creative process of film making”  
The question was not to be answered by myself but instead I was to provide an insight into my opinion in order to allow the audience to answer themselves. 

I had also prepared back in London an audiovisual presentation that lasted around 30 minutes. We would use this to illustrate some points during the Master class.

Right finally, lunch! And yes a well deserve glass of wine…

Evening was spent meeting some of the other participants, exchanging ideas and generally getting to know each other, bed 01:00am

Final meeting with Bernardo 11:00am at the venue, not much people around as the nights celebrations went into the early hrs of the morning.

On the day around 150 people turned up, which by the way, I was told was very good, my slot was 13:00 to 15:00 lunch time!
We were meant to run for 2:00hrs.

I can sincerely say that the participation was fantastic; everybody got engaged, as the audience interest grew and the questions kept coming, time began to disappear and we held court for 3 hrs instead, basically until we got booted out as there was another Master class coming into the auditorium.

It was a really good experience, seeing all the faces of the future Film Makers, realising the contribution the Camera Operator has on a film production. We played numerous examples of extraordinary work, we discussed the reasons, difficulties, constrains we all encounter; the relationships between the different departments, our duties and the future outlook for the Camera Operators in a changing film industry.

All in all we cover as much as we could, but of course, as with every passion, they always wanted to know more…

The big Film family was in session and the love for this art was in the air, new and not so new, in the same place at the same time discussing our passion.
I would be very happy if 1% of the attendees would, as they progress in their careers, harness the skills of the Camera Operators potential.

Trying to get out of the venue took a while, as most people wanted to continuo the informative and enjoyable event outside.

Needless to say the evening meal and wine went down well…

I would like to thank Felipe Pereira, Luisa Riviere and everyone at FEST; for looking after me, and especially to Bernardo, you are the man! Thank you for your friendship.

Rodrigo Gutierrez ACO 


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