Vatche Boulghourjian and Caroline Oliveira are the director and the producer of Tramontane, one of the 15 projects selected for the first workshop of the first edition of Biennale College – Cinema. Tramontane was not selected for the second workshop, but it’s definitely in production and it has just been awarded a Production Grant by the Doha Film Institute. We caught up with Vatche and Caroline and had a chat about the experience of the workshop, focusing on how the workshop helped them in developing Tramontane.
Director and producer are planning to shoot the feature film sometime in autumn. “Naturally, we have other projects in mind, which we plan to start after completing Tramontane“, they said. “However, our focus is to make Tramontane this year and to provide this production our full attention”. Vatche and Caroline arrived in Venice with a very detailed plan and amount of material, with a project which was born to fit the budget of Biennale College – Cinema: an aspect that helped them since the very beginning. “The Biennale College – Cinema was and continues to be tremendously helpful to the development of Tramontane. We went to Venice with a full screenplay, schedule and budget, all of which we had revised many times before our arrival. During the workshop, we parsed the project and scrutinized each of its components; we worked with the Heads of Studies and the mentors to refine the screenplay and the approach to production simultaneously with the goal of developing a solid plan of action, one that takes full advantage of available resources and that heightens the essence of the story”.
But in which way was the Biennale College – Cinema experience useful to them? “The symbiosis between screenwriting and production ultimately helped concentrate the plot, paring down the script to its core. Naturally, the challenge of recognizing vital narrative elements will always be aided by deep collaborative work between writer and producer. However, this is not a matter of simply inflating a budget or forcing a story to fit a budget; with the right relationship, writer, director and producer can create the necessary economy in storytelling to make an effective film. This requires sufficient understanding of the story, a common sensitivity and vision, on the part of the producer and the writer; and, most importantly, it requires trust and courage. This is a step that all filmmakers must face sooner or later while developing a film. The uniqueness of the Biennale College – Cinema workshop was that it focused precisely on this collaborative process between writer, director and producer; the creative and the logistical aspects of the production were discussed and evolved concurrently to cull the utmost potential of each project”.
“The heads of studies, the mentors of screenwriting and the mentors of producing were thoroughly familiar with the projects and worked tirelessly with the director-producer teams”, they added. “They were dedicated not only to the improvement of each project but also to their actualization. In other words, we believe that everyone in Venice wanted to see all 15 selected projects go into production. The support that the Biennale College – Cinema team continues to provide after the workshop is a testament to their genuine faith in all the selected projects. The commitment of the heads of studies and the mentors instilled a powerful new momentum in the development of Tramontane“.
Biennale College – Cinema, as a college and a community of filmmakers, is made also by the other participants, and Vatche and Caroline spent a few words about this aspect as well: “The relationships between the participating filmmakers, the director-producer teams, evolved very rapidly. Indeed, we feel deeply attached to all the projects in the selection and we benefited immensely from discussions outside of the formal workshop settings. The exchange of ideas and constructive criticism bonded us; we look forward to seeing all 15 projects as well as all the future works of our colleagues in the selection. It is a privilege to be part of this brilliant community of filmmakers and we believe that the results of this encounter will be reflected in our work”.