Languages Through Lenses 2010: Experiences

The Prix Europa -festival opening gala, Berlin

Third year film students Outi Hartikainen and, author of this post, Hannu Koivuranta took part in a shortfilm competition Languages Through Lenses last year organized by the EU and European League of the Institutes of the Arts (ELIA). The mission was to produce a 60-90 second shortfilm promoting the importance of foreign cultures and languages.

15 scripts were selected to the competition and all received a 5000 EUR production grant. Three works from Finland were selected: “Connection Lost” from TAMK, “The Forest of Babel” from Aalto university and “Pancakes” from Turku Arts Academy.

Getting selected to the competition turned out to be a bigger thing than expected. In addition to the production grant the main applicant student were sent to Amsterdam to a two-day scriptwriting workshop held by BBC screenwriting veterans Guy Meredith and Roger Gregory. During those two days students presented their projects' scripts while Guy and Roger helped to develop them even further. In the meantime Amsterdam presented a great opportunity to meet fellow filmmakers and art students.

The featured projects were very diverse. The competition had selected more art students than film students and it was clearly reflected in the projects. Several art projects found it difficult to be developed in a more traditional scriptwriting way.

"Connection Lost" team members at the Prix Europa festival. From left
director Outi Hartikainen, cinematographer/script writer Hannu Koivuranta,
sound designer Arttu Hokkanen and producer Niilo Gustafsson

After Amsterdam each project went on to develop independently. “Connection Lost” was shot in July and it employed approximately 25 people. One month was spent in post-production. During the production ELIA was kept up to date about the project and the use of the production grant. Screenwriting lecturer Arto Koskinen served as a tutor for the project.

When the collective deadline was due the final projects were supplied to Berlin on DVDs where they would take part in Europe's largest TV- and radio festival Prix Europa. Four students from Tampere went on to represent Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Art & Media: Outi Hartikainen, Hannu Koivuranta, producer Niilo Gustafsson and sound designer Arttu Hokkanen. They were accompanied by Senior Lecturer Arto Koskinen.

All the 15 selected projects competed in their own category (Languages Through Lenses). During the three days in Berlin the students had the opportunity to take part in workshops, cocktail parties and film screenings at e.g. The French Embassy.

The students and ELIA representatives rated each project in order to shortlist top three projects. Among them was “Connection Lost”, “The Forest of Babel” and “Langbeat” from MOME(Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design*) ,Hungary. The stay of these students was then extended until the end of the festival and the closing gala where the festival would present the winning productions. These three days were quickly spent watching documentaries and films, getting to know Berlin and meeting new people.

The main prize of Languages Through Lenses -category went to “The Forest of Babel” (dir. Elina & Mike Pohjola) while the other two projects received special commendations.

It is important to understand how magnificent the six month journey with Languages Through Lenses was and how much it taught about handling a project with this size budget and resources. In the end the final productions were meant for use by the European Union and ELIA. Having enriched our lives with some new experiences we definitely want to encourage our students to take part in competitions – not necessarily because of the winning but because of the experience. We hope to see you in this years Languages Through Lenses!

Connection Lost” is will be shown next time at Tampere Film Festival's Kino TAMK -screening.

Languages Through Lenses 2011 competition is now active and the deadline for scripts is 25th of March. For more information check out the link below:
Hannu Koivuranta

Read the previous stories about the competition
Watch "Connection Lost"
Prix Europa

* happy comment by the blog editor: MOME (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design) and TAMK are about to sign an agreement about staff and student exchange. Zsófia Ruttkay from MOME will give a workshop during our International Week April 11-14.