Just to give you an idea of the glamorous life a documentary maker leads, let me tell you what I am doing this week. I have to admit that I am half on holiday, at my family’s home with my children in Holland, but I will travel around and work a little while being here (while opa and oma enjoy the kids).
Tomorrow I am taking a train to Brussels for a meeting with my Belgian co-producer. Daniel de Valck is a regular for me, as we know each other well and have done a few projects together. He already agreed to help me find finance in Belgium, but it’s time we meet face to face to talk things through. No doubt he will ask me for a script of the film, in Dutch, which has yet to be written. I already have a commitment from Lichtpunt (Flemish television) but Daniel will try RTBF (Walloon television – from the French speaking part) and also the Flemish Film Fund.
A day later, I return to Holland (also by train) to meet with my Dutch co-producer! I am having lunch with her in Amsterdam on Thursday. She’s a Spanish producer in Holland (while I am a Dutch producer in Spain) and one of the very best I think. She called me today to ask for… a script of the film in Dutch. Obviously. I don’t yet what her strategy will be, but I’ll let you know when I do.
What are all these co-producers for? Well, documentary financing is a complicated international ordeal. Many projects require financing from various countries (film funds, television stations, etc) in order to meet their budgets. Additionally, Spain is dreadful for documentary financing and hence, for this project I really need to benefit from the fact that I am Dutch and also have a good track record in Belgium, so that we can scrape together the required money from a variety of sources. This is best done by local producers, who work in the industry in that country, as they have a working relationship with the funding sources, are in touch with the market and can tell me what people are looking for (which may be different from place to place).
And then, there is a good deal between Holland and Belgium that, if you have TV from both, there’s some automatic funding which becomes available which I have never understood but is a good deal. This, along with what we are trying to work on in the U.S. through Daggewood Films, should ensure we get the budget together.
Obviously, this is a must because Inés will give birth yes or yes (this is from Spanish: si o si), and we cannot stop half-way to look for more money. So, I am putting a lot of effort in this part of it. And finally, in having all these people doing what they do best in the territory they know best, frees me up to concentrate on what I like best: directing (planning, dreaming, and of course: writing that bloody script in Dutch…).