Workshops and Experts

For the Masterschool 2019, we put special emphasis on:

• Animated documentary
• VR and digital technologies
• New business models & good practices
• Impact and Outreach
• Non-broadcast funding strategies

Here is a timeline and breakdown of what will be covered in each of the four Masterschool workshops:

• January 2019
Fifteen of the submitted projects are selected for the Masterschool;

• February 2019
The producer/director teams are interviewed via Skype before the first workshop;

• February - March 2019
The producer/director teams receive intense mentoring to prepare for the first workshop;

• March/June/August/October 2019
The teams are invited to four intensive 5-day workshops and trained to pitch their film ideas;

• October 2019
At the Leipzig Networking Days, the teams present their fully developed projects to leading commissioning editors from around the world;

• November 2019
In the Follow-Up Session after having pitched their project, the teams are debriefed about the Leipzig pitch results and assisted in designing their finance and outreach strategies.

Workshop 1: Storytelling | Copenhagen, Denmark

• Storytelling, Script and Treatment-Writing
• Narrative Strategies
• Traditional, Online and Virtual Reality
• Networking
• Audiences

The Masterschool participants come together for the first workshop in Copenhagen in March on the occasion of CPH:DOX and in cooperation with Anidox. Sessions will focus on different techniques aspects of storytelling as well as treatment preparation: such as animated documentary, virtual reality, cross-media working, titles and taglines, archive and clearance. Participants will focus on their projects in group work guided and instructed by industry experts.

Workshop Trainers:

Claudia Schreiner, Head of Studies Masterschool, Germany
Jihan el-Tahri, Big Sister Productions, Egypt/France
Simon Staffans, ReThink - New Media Solutions, Finland
Derren Lawford, Woodcut Media, United Kingdom
Mads Damsbo, Makropol, Denmark
Adam Gee, Real Stories - Little Dot Studios, United Kingdom
Esther van Messel, First Hand Films, Switzerland
Uri Kranot, Anidox, Denmark
Paula Vaccaro, Pinball London, United Kingdom
Helle Hansen, Norwegian Film Institute, Norway
Ane Mandrup, Danish Film Insitute, Denmark

Workshop 2: Funding and Producing | Sheffield, United Kingdom

• Storytelling
• Trailer Training and Editing
• Budgeting & Fundraising
• Multiplatform Strategy

The second workshop will take place in Sheffield on the occasion of the Sheffield Doc/Fest. In this workshop, dedicated experts will help the Participants fine-tune the elements of the projects they have been working on since Workshop 1. It will focus on funding and producing strategies. Participants will be introduced to production requirements of broadcasters and their professional expectations; work and criteria of distributors working on an international level; meeting with industry experts on a one-to-one basis and learn about possibilities getting funded by organizations, platforms and foundations. Different techniques and use of production tools will be presented and discussed. Materials covered are the treatment, trailer/sizzle, budget and finance plan. By the end of the workshop, they will be well along the way to being ready to launch their ideas on the international market.

Workshop Trainers:

Claudia Schreiner, Head of Studies Masterschool, Germany
Jihan el-Tahri, Big Sister Productions, Egypt/France
Simon Staffans, ReThink - New Media Solutions, Finland
Derren Lawford, Woodcut Media, United Kingdom
Esther van Messel, First Hand Films, Switzerland
Richard Bradley, Lion Television, United Kingdom
Gabriele M. Walther, Caligari Film, Germany
Elizabeth Klinck, Visual Research, Canada
Joëlle Alexis, Edit Next Door, Israel
Mark Atkin, Crossover, United Kingdom
Paula Vaccaro, Pinball London, United Kingdom
Benjamin Wigley, Artdocs, United Kingdom

Workshop 3: Impact, Distribution and Business Models

• Financing & Funding Strategy
• Impact Producing
• Legal Aspects of International Co-Productions
• Festival and International Distribution Strategy
• Online Marketing

In the third workshop the Participants will have the opportunity to learn about new business models, impact producing, digital marketing, online revenues and also legal aspects of production and coproductions. Special attention will be given to audiences and users and their expectations and habits. A combination of masterclasses and one-to-one meetings ensures that the participants are ready to go out with the best possible support in getting their films produced.

Workshop 4: Pitching | Leipzig, Germany

• Pitching Training and Technical Preparation
• Finance Consultations after the Pitching Session

The fourth workshop focuses on pitching and selling the project. Participants will be introduced to tips, tricks and techniques presenting and talking in public, Some of the projects will be made public ahead on online platforms and social media inviting communities to respond, comment and ask questions which will be dealt with in the upcoming Leipzig Networking Days. The pitches will be trained and performed in groups and supervised by experienced professionals with international background. The final pitching event, the Leipzig Networking Days, is attended by some of the world's leading commissioning editors and the Participants' opportunity to showcase the culmination of all their work. The Masterschool will continue to provide support after the pitch, and show how the Participants can build long-lasting relationships with industry stakeholders, including commissioners.

Dates and locations are subject to change!


Mentors work very closely with the Participants during the development phase of their projects. The three mentors each work with five projects. The role of the Mentor is to guide the Participants and help them shape their projects to enure they are suitable for the international market, including international audience appeal, commissioner and other financier appeal. Mentors also provide the Participants with the necessary know-how and networking skills to help them work internationally in the future.

An additional Digital Mentor will help selected participants form the cross media performance of their projects.

The mentors, tutors and experts are subject to change each year. The mentors of the Masterschool 2019 are:

Jihan El-Tahri

Jihan El-Tahri started her working career as a journalist. Between 1984 and 1990 she worked as a news agency correspondent and TV researcher covering Middle East politics. In 1990 she began directing and producing documentaries for French television, the BBC, PBS and other international broadcasters. Since then she has directed more than a dozen films including the Emmy nominated The House of Saud, which explores the Saudi/US relations through the portraits of the Kingdom’s monarchs. The Price of Aid, which won the European Media prize in 2004, examined who really benefits from the system of International Food Aid. Cuba: An African Odyssey, which recounts the untold story of Cuba’s support for African revolutions, has received multiple International awards.

Her most recent feature documentary Behind the Rainbow, which examines the transitional process in South Africa, has been released in 2009 and has since won various prizes. She is currently finalizing a 3 hour documentary provisionally titled Egypt’s Modern Pharaohs. Jihan has also written two books, The 9 Lives of Yasser Arafat and Israel and the Arabs: the 50 Years War published by Penguin. Jihan El-Tahri is also engaged in various associations and institutions working with African cinema. She has served as treasurer of the Guild of African Filmmakers in the Diaspora, Regional Secretary of the Federation of Pan African Cinema (FEPACI) and as an Advisor on Focus Feature’s Africa first Program.

Derren Lawford

Derren spent over a decade at the BBC where he helped launch 1Xtra, was Panorama’ s first digital exec, secured a number of BBC Three documentary commissions, was the Mutliplatform Exec for the award-winning Our War and then at BBC Worldwide, helped launch the Global iPlayer in 16 territories around the globe. He then left to join youth engagement agency Livity as Head of Content, before joining London Live as a commissioner specialising in documentaries and breaking new talent on and off screen.

He is currently Creative Director at independent production company , Woodcut Media. His recent projects include two-part documentary series, Football: A Brief History by Alfie Allen, access documentary, The Ivy, political feature doc, Generation Revolution and two Idris Eba documentaries, Mandela, My Dad and Me and Cut From A Different Cloth.

Derren is also a Board Member of Sheffield Doc/Fest and One World Media respectively.

Esther van Messel

Born 1965 in Vienna, lives in Switzerland and holds a Bachelor’s degree in film & television production and in history from the University of Tel Aviv.
In 1990, she joined Warner Bros. Israel and became Head of Distribution. From 1992 she produced international feature films and documentaries as Head of Co-Production and Sales for an independent production company in Zurich.
In 1998, Esther van Messel founded her own company First Hand Films in Zurich and Berlin for world sales of documentaries and fiction films. First Hand Films acts as executive producer for selected projects. Since 2013, the company releases also films in Swiss theatres, like CITIZENFOUR and DIE MIGRANTIGEN.
Esther van Messel has been working as a lecturer and consultant for various organizations like EAVE Brussels, IDFA Amsterdam, Cinemart Rotterdam, Eurodoc, Documentary Campus, the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg, the Erich Pommer Institut, the Swiss Federal Office for Culture and the Austrian Parliament, a.o.

Simon Staffans

Simon Staffans is an award-winning format and content developer working in Finland. Over a distinguished career he has created everything from TV shows to social media strategies and corporate storytelling campaigns. His knowledge of multiplatform storytelling and transmedia development has taken him around the world for speaking engagements, workshop facilitation and international consultancy. His insightful articles have been published in numerous journals and academic papers and he is an avid blogger on his website Evolving Media. He holds a Bachelors degree in Social Sciences, looking into how storytelling can affect people’s willingness to participate in scientific surveys.

Currently, Simon is the CEO of ReThink – New Media Solutions, a production and innovation company. Additionally, he has his own company Storista through which he channels innovative projects in the multi-platform arena. Previously he worked for MediaCity Finland as a media strategist, content developer and producer.

Selection committee for the Masterschool 2019

Flore Deroose, Amsterdam
Head of Content, Zoomin TV

Olaf Grunert, Mainz
Deputy Head of the ARTE section within ZDF, ZDF/ARTE

Tereza Simikova, Copenhagen
Head of CPH:Forum

Jo Lapping, London
Strand Manager BBC

Esther van Messel, Zürich
CEO, First Hand Films

Tomas Lindh, Stockholm
Head of Programming / On-Demand, SVT

Michelle Kranot, Viborg
Producer, Anidox

Christiane Hinz, Köln
Head of Documentary and Society, WDR

Margje de Koning, Hilversum
Chief Commissioning Editor, IKONDocs

Leena Pasanen, Leipzig
Director, DOK Leipzig

Jan Rofekamp, Québec
President & CEO, Films Transit