By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz May 5, 2014 at 8:14PM
MAIA Workshops is an advanced training and coaching program for new European producers that provides them with the fundamental tools needed to steer an audiovisual project through the different phases of development, production and distribution.
This year, 2014, marks the official end of the Media Program’s seven year program which provides basic funding to MAIA. The European Community has now brought together all the Culture programs into one group called Creative Europe and MAIA is now applying to be funded for the next years.
Who started MAIA?
Graziella Bildesheimset the workshops up in 2005 and now, nine years later, the program has become an important part of the international landscape of professional training. And the doors are open to non-European participants as well.
The program is aimed at young entrepreneurs, junior producers, heads of development and graduates from film schools. Besides its main mission of delivering professional training, one of its main objectives is to build a strong and active network of engaged and interesting people that can cooperate to co-develop, co-produce and distribute international co-productions.
Its methodology is based on the twenty plus years of previous experience in project development, production and consulting on international co-productions of its founder, Graziella Bildesheim. Graziella herself went through training programs and has applied her skills and knowledge to training young producers and writers to create the fundamental requisites for furthering their projects. With MAIA Workshops, she targets the geographical gap for Central and Eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries where up to now there has been no specific training for creative producers. Starting from the 2015 edition that marks MAIA’s 10th anniversary, the program will be able to apply the EU rates to extra-European participants as well.
Graziella herself is an interesting subject. She originally studied medicine and then became a translator. While working for the Opera in Rome, she met film folks, among whom was the Oscar winning production designer of Room With A View who brought Graziella into the film industry to help set up his international jobs.
She then worked in Rome for one of Italy’s top production companies, Fandango, in the years 1992 – 3 when it was very small and connected to an international company in Australia. She is an early adapter and quite quickly became an expert in applying to Media Europe for funding while it was looking at developing European films with greater worldwide appeal as a way to power up international coproductions, to make European films broaden their reach into the world, something that has since become the very engine of the film industry today.
Fandango’s programs and challenges resulted in her becoming an independent consultant with lots of European and non-European companies seeking help in this as-yet unexplored area.
She moved into the story development area with an eye toward international coproductions, and went to Arista training program in the U.K. for writers, producers and story editors where she participated as a story editor. There she saw many different perspectives and routes for development for producers looking for international projects.
After her training in 2000 with Arista, in 2003 she set up her own production company Fabulafilm in Italy and up until 2011 she was busy with production of docs, theatrical and TV based features concerning social historical and current issues.
At the same time she also developed her own training programs which included the first script analysis (how to read a script) labs in Italy. AND, she is still teaching at the National School in Rome, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia where she teaches script development and the fundamentals of international coproduction.
In 2005 she, along with Alessandra Pastore who had joined Fabula as an intern, established MAIA Workshops in Europe. In 2009 they launched
HERMES in the Eastern Partnership countries together with the Council of Europe, and in 2012 and 2013 the Directors Across Borders Story Development and
Producers’ Workshops for Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine with the European EuroEast Culture Program. The team is now made up of
herself, Alessandra who is Program and Network Coordinator, Gabriele Brunnenmeyer, Head of Studies, and Alejandro de la Fuente, Workshop Tutor.
What is Maia?
Maia Workshops is an advanced training and coaching program for emerging European producers.
Graziella says, “We see the producer as central to the complex process of developing, producing, marketing and distributing an audiovisual work. “
Under the guidance of some of the best industry experts from all around the world, MAIA has a steady hold on the state of the art in the global audiovisual market. “We are keen to explore new and innovative ways of making and marketing films with low budgets. We also look forward into transmedia storytelling and building crossmedia projects for different platforms as much as we work on consolidating our knowledge of the crafts and the skills of classical film production.”
The development workshops focus on three areas, all with an eye toward project development:
· The creative aspects
· The legal and financial issues
· The marketing and distribution aspects
Networking among the participants is almost as important as the training itself. To know each other and train in a protected environment is very important, because once out in the “real world” any and all missteps are irrevocable.
MAIA fills a gap that Eastern and Mediterranean Europeans are not given in film school. They are taught line producing but not creative producing, how to choose a subject or how to finance or market and distribute. And the gap of the new generation is filled by the training to bring them into taking charge of modern day creative coproductions which are driving the business today.
The Media (Creative Europe) program asks for yearly evaluations and for results of the trainings. MAIA explains that it is not films per se or projects they are working on as much as the training. Therefore rather than giving names of projects which are developed or produced, they must measure the networks established among participants to coproduce, or companies the participants have set up as a result of the training as well as positions they have been promoted to because of the training, who credit MAIA for success. Participants might cite films they have financed or released but these are not necessarily the results of project work done at MAIA.
In Greek and Roman mythology, the goddess Maia embodied the concept of growth and development. Graziella chose the name ‘Maia’ because it represents our classical origins but also declares what the program does for its participants. Maia protects them, but she also stimulates them to discover new worlds and, being the mother of Hermes, she encourages all of us to dare beyond established conventional boundaries.
How does Maia work?
Maia is made up of three independent five-day residential workshops across a year. Each workshop offers a tight combination of lessons, case-studies and practical exercises, specific work on participants' projects and one-to-one meetings with tutors and trainers.
Participants can attend one, two or all three workshops. Participation in the 3-workshop package requires a project in development, whereas single workshops can be attended with or without a project.
The workshops take place in the Mediterranean regions (Italy, after all, originated the MAIA Workshops and its “Made in Italy” pedigreee goes a long way in the selling of the program). It also takes place in the Eastern European countries. For instance this past March the first workshop was in Italy. The second will be in Halle in the former Eastern Germany, and the third will be in Lodz, Poland.
Each of these venues has its own special partner and sponsor. In Germany MDM (Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung) is the financial partner. In Poland in October the Polish Film Institute will be the partner along with the Lodz Film Commission and Opus Film, a production company.
Next year, in 2015, the workshops already have a Lithuanian partner, a partner in the Sardinian region of Italy and they are working on the third partner now.
Who is Maia for?
The Maia workshops are targeted to international fiction, documentary and cross-media producers as well as recent graduates, production managers and other industry professionals wishing to improve their production skills.
Each workshop is open to 20 international participants and the working language is English.
MAIA has trained over 300 participants and is nearing its 10th anniversary.
In keeping with its networking mission, it is contemplating having a birthday party in which all past and current participants will have the chance to meet each other.
It already has networking sessions when, in such large venues as the Berlinale or Cannes, the participants from different years can meet each other.
Speaking of Cannes, you can find MAIA in the European Pavilion and on May 19 they will have a cocktail reception in the Italian Pavilion with delicious Italian food products supplied by Alberti, a company from Liguria, one of the best food regions in Italy. Pass by the European Pavilion to get a ticket!
And even better, in 2015, MAIA will be open to participants from all over the world, not just from Europe. The cost for international participants will be the same as for Europeans. The networking possible between Latin America, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Europe will become even more important as creative producers network and pool ideas and skills to broaden the filmmaking base for the next generation of filmmakers. Creative Europe, which joins Culture with Media will gain an originality that we cannot begin to imagine, so keep your eye on MAIA where the ideas and networking will germinate.
What does Maia cost?
Participation in each workshop costs 800€ inclusive of tuition, accommodation and meals. The complete 3-workshop package costs 2.000€ if applied for within the dedicated deadline.
A limited number of scholarships is available for participants coming from EU countries where no local funding is available.
For more information on the program structure, the content and the dates www.maiaworkshops.org