About the Programme
What is the Masterschool?
The Masterschool leads you through four intensive workshops to shape your documentary ideas for linear TV and web and across all genres and formats. Give your stories impact! Get them seen by new audiences through innovative digital and VR technologies! Explore new business models in our increasingly competitive industry. We are experts in connecting you with the world’s leading broadcast executives and commissioning editors who will guide you on the path to your international pitch and success.
The Masterschool is an intensive training program for documentary filmmakers, taking place over a timespan of a 10-month period. Its aim is to mentor directors and producers to make exciting documentaries (one-offs, multiplatform and series) for the international market.
Over the course of four 5-day workshops in the 10-month period, 15 European producer/director teams are assisted in developing their documentary projects to appeal to international audiences. The teams receive invaluable feedback from experienced documentary professionals and have the unique opportunity to pitch their projects to a panel of carefully selected international commissioning editors at our largest Industry Event, the Leipzig Networking Days, in October.
New Focus. New Strategies. For the Masterschool 2017, we put special emphasis on:
• VR and digital technologies
• New business models & good practices
• Impact and Outreach
• Non-broadcast funding strategies
Here is what Masterschool alumnus Michael Grotenhoff had to say about the programme:
"With the 2012 developed cross-media project „netwars“, I went unconventional ways in which the Masterschool enabled me to develop not only the project, but also an alternative business model for financing multiplatform projects. This was an enormous help for the whole company, to become sustainable in the radical shift of digital media. The company has reinvented itself as a production partner for high-quality documentaries that stand for innovative storytelling – be it dramatically or technically."
This is a sum-up from our alumnus Peter Middleton and his team partner James Spinney:
"Documentary Campus 2013 was a formative experience for us both, helping us navigate the complexities of developing our first long-form documentary - "Notes on Blindness". The structure of the workshops gave us the time and resources to interrogate the project (including planting the seed for our accompanying virtual reality experience "Into Darkness"), as well as providing an invaluable opportunity to connect us to industry contacts from across the European documentary community."
How it works:
• February 2017
Fifteen of the submitted projects are selected for the Masterschool;
• March 2017
The producer/director teams are interviewed via Skype before the first workshop;
• April 2017
The producer/director teams receive intense mentoring to prepare for the first workshop;
• June/August/October 2017
The teams are invited to three intensive 5-day workshops and trained to pitch their film ideas;
• October 2017
At the Leipzig Networking Days, the teams present their fully developed projects to leading commissioning editors from around the world;
• November 2017
In the fourth and final workshop after the pitching, the teams are debriefed about the Leipzig pitch results and assisted in designing their finance and launch strategies.
Each workshop takes place in a different European city and addresses a different aspect of international production. Click here for a breakdown of what each workshop covers and please refer to the FAQ Section for further queries.
Each team will have a specially-chosen Mentor assigned, coming with extensive knowledge in storytelling. They will act as the team's trusted guide, advising on the best way to develop the idea to appeal to global audiences.
Each project will also have a Tutor, an industry commissioner or executive producer working for a broadcaster. Their role is to bring the market intelligence to the project to ensure its relevance to and success in the international market. The Tutors are also there to help with networking opportunities.
Who is it for?
Our main target group for the Masterschool includes European non-fiction professionals (authors, directors, producers, commissioning editors and film funds):
• experienced in their domestic markets
• recommended by a broadcaster or funding body
• striving to work on an international level
• looking out for new business strategies
• with strong and advanced documentary projects for an international audience (including long- and short-form series, cross-platform projects, formats and one-offs)
• open to learn and to adapt their projects to the needs of their targeted market (TV or digital plattforms)
• with excellent English language skills
Find further information on specific countries in our FAQ Section for further queries.
We are looking for…
• All types of documentaries, especially television series, creative docs, multiplatform, web, VR
• All genres, such as history, science, arts, wildlife, natural history, environment or human interest, etc.
• Great documentary story ideas, suitable for multiplatform exploitation
• Stories and characters that can reach global audiences
• Projects experimenting with new formats, which need more shape and new expertise
• Projects searching for a European co-production partner that need to devise a concrete finance strategy
• Experiments on alternative methods of exploitation and financing (e.g. online-only projects, crowdfunding etc.)
NOTE: Projects that have already been pitched at an international pitch event are ineligible. The pitch at the Leipzig Networking Days must be a PREMIERE.