blogEast is a new initiative of goEast - Festival of Central- and Eastern European Film. We hereby declare our solidarity with our colleagues and friends from Central- and Eastern Europe, who see themselves confronted with large challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the following weeks blog entries will be published here, looking at the situation from a cinematic, political and/or social point of view. blogEast is supervised and edited by the goEast team and is part of the program Pan-Europan Picknick, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main.
When we launched B2B Doc 6 years ago, we never thought about money in the sense of providing production support to film projects. Although "B2B" means not only the territory between the Baltic and the Black seas, where we are active, but "business to business" as well. B2B Doc is neither a production company nor a fund. We are a peer-to-peer network, where filmmakers from West and East support each other in the co-production of film projects.
B2B Doc helps filmmakers from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Russia bring their film projects to the international co-production market. These countries have a mostly underdeveloped film industry. Even before the coronavirus, in many of these countries a filmmaker couldn't count on the proper and decent support from the state. Usually state support for film production in these countries is either very limited, or, let's say, non-transparent. Now it is completely put on hold. Culture is what these governments use to save money on without giving any advice to the self-employed filmmakers about how to survive.
Keeping the cash-flow in the independent documentary film industry, especially in countries with either emerging democracies or pure dictatorships, in our opinion is an important social tool. Unfortunately, we don't have any solutions at B2B Doc for the direct financial support of filmmakers. We can keep our activities running, provide the development of film stories, create new trailers, adjust pitch-trainings to online pitchings, arrange online consultations and webinars... But we don't have money in our budget to spend on production support.
That's why I started to think about launching a fundraising campaign to share the collected money with filmmakers from B2B Doc. With those who need it most. Although, I had doubts. The problem is that being isolated from the well-functioning documentary industry, most of the filmmakers whom we work with, have always been used to look for production money through donations and charity only. Changing this way of thinking is what B2B Doc is working on. We teach the filmmakers how to become a part of the international film industry and raise funds from existing sources. Sell, not beg. But the market got frozen. Co-production forums are cancelled or postponed. Pitching sessions, where new projects can be presented, have moved online, which is not the best solution for inexperienced newcomers.
So, I have decided to appeal to my friends and colleagues and asked them to donate some money, which I would forward to B2B Doc to share between the selected filmmakers. The filmmakers can then spent these donations on their projects.
If you are eager to support the documentary filmmakers in need, please follow this link.
It will be great to spend this money. Many filmmaker colleagues already donated and thus demonstrated their solidarity with their young colleagues.
Alex Shiriaieff is one of the founders of the Baltic to Black Sea Documentary Network (B2B Doc). B2B Doc is an informal co-production platform where filmmakers - from beginners to established directors and producers - meet and exchange knowledge, helping each other bring documentary stories to the international market in co-production.