Every year for the last eleven years on February I find myself traveling in a cramped plane to Berlin Film Festival. More than for the festival, I actually come over for the European Film Market, which pools together all the film producers, distributors, sales people, financiers and, well, the general film folk. Of course, since it’s at the same time as the prestigious Berlin Film Festival, there’s also the lauded filmmakers of the year – the actors, the directors and the producers, who scoot from premiere to press events in the black Audis, evading the gazes of the festival-goers, save their quick strut at the red carpet. And yes, there’s also the actual film lovers, the ones that crowd the theatres, flock in front of the red carpets and line up in front of the box offices in hopes for tickets. There are also the critics and the film journalists, mostly too busy to party since they have ten films to catch up today, elbowing their way into the junkets and round tables, or if they have the money, one-on-ones with the stars. And then there are those on the fringes; the VR people, the production service people, the tech folk branching into film and those who just want to have a whiff of the glamour of film world. It’s an unruly mess, and every year they gather up to do what we call the film business.
I’ve obviously been going back to Berlin ever since we started to work on the Iron Sky franchise. The first Iron Sky was released in 2012 at Berlinale, as part of the Panorama program. Later on, we’ve been back whether to finance the sequel, or the Chinese one, or just to show our faces in case someone would forget who we are. Every year we come with a different constellation: sometimes, it’s bigger group – cameraman, marketing, producer, production coordinator, director, director’s wife, you name it. Sometimes, we show up with just me and Tero, just for few business meetings.
Typically, one stays in Berlin from Thursday to Monday-Tuesday. I’ve once done the whole 14 days, sometimes one week, but this time we decided we go with a small crew – me, Tero and Annika, and we stay only for three days. A grand decision indeed. We didn’t have too much to do, since Iron Sky The Coming Race was delayed until the fall, and Iron Sky: The Ark was just starting its’ post production, and other projects were on such a speculative stage. Mostly, it was negotiations with ISTCR partners on the road ahead and planning the release later this year, but there was also one meeting for a potential new project lined up for me.
Choosing the place to stay is imperative during the Berlinale / EFM time. The hotels are all quite packed, but luckily, Berlin has loads of hotels around Potsdamer Platz, the place where everything happens, and now for few times we’ve stayed in a new establishment just few hundred meters away from Potsdamer, called Grimm’s. It’s decently priced, functional, has a comfortable lobby and a good breakfast.
The three days at the festival went by quite comfortably. On the first night, there was the Finnish party. I came a bit late there, in the middle of some kind of a performance and a short film, which was left a bit empty to me since I didn’t really get the context. I was also feeling extremely unsociable for whatever reason, and decided to park my ass in the far corner of the room, so that I wouldn’t have to speak with everyone I don’t really know. Not surprisingly, many came around asking how was China (it was rough, I answered, but I think we got a good film in the can) and when is Iron Sky The Coming Race Coming (later this year, no date yet chiseled in the stone), but since I wasn’t feeling really party-ish, we decided to bail out relatively early.
The next two days were a bit more animated; I enjoyed some receptions, sat down through a bunch of meetings and even got a chance to catch up with some friends who were visiting Berlin. Leaving home after three – well, three and a half days – was definitely the right choice. Tero had the most important key meeting on Monday, and we were a bit worried if he’s gonna make it, but he did appear just around the time we would’ve had to leave anyway.
Few things I noticed this year’s Berlin, I guess, were that the festival was a bit more silent – there was no big stars in town, so a lot of media were not there, and many companies had much reduced budget anyway, so no crazy marketing stunts that I spotted at least. Also, prices in Berlin are definitely hiking up. What used to be 5€ for taxi is now 10€, what used to be 10€ for a buger is now 15€…
It’s always hard to say whether or not the festival was “good one” or “bad one”. I remember being very result-oriented on the first years, but nowadays, watching as Tero goes around without very clear plan but knows exactly who to meet and where, the results are really not easy to say. You’ll see in five to ten years who are the faces that jumped onboard with you from where, and anyone can be your most important partner, so treat them all with respect.