Filmmakers From Europe Leonardo da Vinci „LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME” 09/0128-L/6023


Introduction of the project


The most crucial part of the film education is to ensure the professional practise. The schools -depending on their support – can give more or less practise to the students. No matter how comprehensive the curriculum is as soon as the students leave education the studios and film productions care about their shooting experiences most of all. The professional practise is not only about how to use the expensive technological tools, but they should also learn to work as a crew, to logically separate the sub tasks, to translate the theoretical, artistic ideas into practise. The „Filmmakers From Europe” was realised with the support of Tempus Foundation. It is an education program for student filmmakers who don't have the necessary connection assets to take part in shootings, and they want to gain their first experiences about working in film project. In the article below the head teachers are summarising their experiences about this international cooperation.


Under the project the students took part in a comprehensive theoretical and practical education, which we realised in a three-part intense workshop sequence, each of them one week long: the training was not only about the students, but also about the teacher team, and the educating institutions.


The participant organisations

The educational methods of the three partners differ a lot. The reasons mostly are the different training level, the period of the education, the number of students and the support level.


House on the Field Cultural Association – Polifilm Iskola

The association funded a film school in 1994, called Polifilm School. The students  take part in a one year long, full-time education, 40 hours a week. During the school year the students have to make two examination movies, at the end of the year they have to take a professional exam. The training is secondary level, the students can apply after graduation. Each year 10-15 students are admitted, they can choose from several fields (production manager, directors assistant, etc).


Each year the students can take part in at least one workshop (besides the practises on the lessons), or even more, depending on the results of the applications. The school is independent from other educational institutions. The goal is to train appropriate professionals for the television or the film industry. The school helps the students disposition through its connections.


The House on the Field Cultural Association supports the Hungarian filmmaking with many events year by year, the most significant is the National Student Filmfestival. This festival was created to help the first introductions of young filmmakers, the students of Polifilm School can present their first works here to the audience. Every worthy product gets an award, and each movie that gets into the competition gets a professional critique from the jury. During the school year the students learn filmtheory (movie history, dramaturgy, aesthetics, program construction etc) and practise (camera-usement, actor directing, directing lessons etc) in equal cadence. The workshop was timed after the practises on the lessons, so the students could gain some practical knowledge to the beginning of the workshop.


Lužánky Leisure Centre – Studio Lavka

The Luzánky, středisko volného času (Luzanky Leisure Centre) is an educational institution under the Ministry of Education. It provides leisure educational and training programmes for the youngs. These activities supplement school education: future job choices, re-qualification etc.. These are also some hobby programs in Luzanky. The participants of the training are young amateures (mostly from high school) who make films as a hobby, but there are also members, who take this education as a preparatory to a university for example.


There are eleven branches of Luzanky around Brno. Nowadays they offer broad range of educational activities in different areas: culture, sports, arts, information and communication technologies, languages etc... Studio Lavka is one of these branches, working with teenagers in the field of music, film, photo and theatre for several years. Luzanky have experiences in European projects like European Voluntary Service programme, ESF project, School education program For your school and Youth programme of the EU. The students make several movies during the year together, they get an overview to each section and profession of the production.


North-Karelia Collage – audiovisual and communication department

The Finnish College is part of Municipal Education and Training Consortium, this is the third biggest college of all the colleges belonging to Consortium. There are approximately 630 students from all over Finland and from abroad. The students are looked after by a staff of about 70 full time employees and several guest lecturers.

The purpose of the vocational training is that students can rely on their competence to cope with the wide range of tasks in their field, to find a job in the increasingly competitive labour market and to qualify for further studies. The vocational qualifications offered in Outokumpu like dancer, vocational, qualification in visual expression artisan, game development, media assistant. The school has 2 international study programmes where teaching is partly in English: Audiovisual Communication and Dance. Programmes are open to all Finns, foreign nationals and immigrants who have completed Finnish compulsory education or an equivalent. Students of those programmes tale actively part of mobility projects and year 2008 73 students studied or participated in study visits abroad.



The progress of the project


The three mentioned schools organized common workshops for the students of the 2009-2010 year. Each country held one. The main goal was to develop the pupils practical efficiency and professional English, and also to share knowledge between the teachers and institutions. The topics of the workshops were separated, so each school would teach their most specific area, and the dates were based on how they fit into the curriculum. The Czech school got the sound-technique, because their main profile are music and audio tools, and they own a sound recording studio. The Hungarian school can't contend with the Finnish university in technical equipment, but it has a high standard teachers team for example in the field of photography and directing, so in this practise the emphasis were on directing, camerausement and lighting. North-Karelia College has many professional editing studio, the participants learned to use Avid, which is an editing program used in feature films.


The progress of the workshops were based on the well-tried structure of the House on the Field Cultural Associations' previous workshops: during the one week long practice the pupils have to shoot a short movie according to the given aspects. We separated them into groups, so that each nation would mix in the groups, and the students have to use English as a working language. We described the task at the beginning of the workshop what they have to use during the week, so they could work on the script from the very first day. The tools for recording and editing were available every day, but it is recommended to use the first few days for developing the ideas. During this time we hold one-two lectures a day. The obligatory program ends at 5 o'clock. The hosting students from each country prepared with freetime activities, these were popular, but most of the groups chose to work till night. It is important to mention that we warned the students from trying to shoot complicated, deep meaning movies, because those need much more preparing, trained actors, scenery, and so on. The aim of the workshops to realize practicable, simple short etudes instead. While shooting these the pupils can have an overlook on the phases of filmmaking, and they can gain the more experience.

The shootings go on from Wednesday to Friday mostly, meanwhile the first editions are getting ready, they can make re-shoots based on it, make changes if the creators decide it's necessary. In a shooting they have to work in crew, if possible no changes should be made in the script, neither in the schedule. Of course they can, but the groups will learn the necessity of working as a team on their own skin. The movie has to be called final at one time, and they have to present it at a deadline.


The dates of the three workshops were chose in a way that they overlay each other. So we gave lectures in Budapest about preparing (directing routine) and the quality of the recording (camera-usement, lighting routine). The lecturers – András Matkócsik (film director, director of photography, Viktor Pálffy – are high standard professionals in Hungary.


They presented the lamp types, how to use them, examples were presented on the screenings how to build in the directing and camera-usement tricks. On each workshop the students could try and use the represented tools (sometimes with a help and control of a professional) in their own movies).


The practice at Finland was overlayed on the Budapest workshop. The university ensured an outstanding technique, and the students could use the opportunities of the studio based on their experiences from the Hungarian workshop. The hardest challenge was that most of the participants used only the semi-professional editing program, „Premiere Pro” before, and at Outokumpu they were thought to use a much more complicated one, called „Avid”, which is used at feature films too. Learning the new program made much longer the post production, and it also showed a setback in the editing. We were prepared for this, we didn not expect the participants to use it as experienced as the other. Our focus was on developing experience, not on the movies that they were exercising with.


We dig deeper in the workshop at Brno, we examined the atmosphere, the effect on the audience. It's main expressive tool is music. The uses and function of music and sound technique were thought here. The groups had to make movies that fit the atmosphere of the music. They could choose from five music, (one or more) they had to organically fit in the movie. Curiosity that all five were recorded in the sound studio of Lavka, they are works of local artists. Although we didn't have that much technique as in Finland for example, but this way we could force the students to find their own, original solutions.



What brings film to its makers?


Film making enables integration of many artistic professions. Dramaturgical reparation on its own includes working on the script, when the decision about the approach to the film making is made. It is the period of the most passionate discussions. In case of young authors interpersonal relationships, and the tasks in the crew are formed in this period. Ability of working together shapes attitudes and opinions of individuals. Within communication in other than mother language requirements are even bigger. Besides reaching a definite outcome, also discussion is important. Specific imposition of tolerance is necessary.


Another level of cooperation is unrolled within working with technical appliances. Every participant can lay stress on something different (he/she finds his/her place in a film unit). Important is, for instance, involvement of various possibilities of visualisation, when designers are necessary. In feature film it involves preparation of decorations, costumes and masques. Work of cameraman and director expects clear vision of future outcome. Because of this, also in the branch of film making, mutual understanding even before beginning shooting is essential. Also music aspect is significant. Will the editing be about ranging pictures according to the music or will it be a feature film with dialogs and characters creating their roles?


All theoretical ideas have to go through many loading tests during the shooting. What seemed easy at the beginning is later hard to do. This is the point, when participant’s experience and knowledge are needed. Clear, and fast decisions need to be made, the whole shooting is exposed to the weather, sometimes the sunrise or sunset dictates the schedule, and a thousand other problem can put the author's adaptability to the proof. The whole film unit must cooperate so that everything can be done according to a time schedule.adaptability. But at the end of shooting the film is not finished at all. Editing and total completion of the film is only beginning. This period is usually the most difficult one, because, actually, it may be endless. There is still something that could be edited, changed. You can still come up with something new or the whole movie could be re-made. At this time, the strong hand of director is needed. At any moment he can say “stop, it is enough”.


In case of collective work, moreover in multilingual environs, this situation is not easy. All authors should identify with final outcome.


For film makers it is of course necessary to bring their films into the open. The audience can understand many things unlike film makers themselves. At this point the knowledge of filming skill comes out, when viewers can understand the film and its plot. Also this part is more difficult on international background. This public projection brings young film makers maybe most valuable pieces of knowledge, because it enables edification and self-reflexion. For young people this is an opportunity for further professional growth.


In the case of our workshop (Filmmakers from Europe) the common work has taken another dimension because of the schools different teaching methods. Each side involved in it looks filmmaking and a film itself from a different perspective. This is the way how participants of the project work with a film.


Czech group of filmmakers are amateurs who get together because of their common hobby – film. Members of this group meet regularly to do film production with no further intention to become professional filmmakers. It is rather one of the ways how to communicate with other people of the same age. Opportunity of achieving better professional knowledge in this field is a significant enrichment of their common work. Whereas it is the youngest part of the group it is possible that individuals will lead their life intentions and ways this direction. The acquired experience encourages them. This group affected common work mainly with their intuitive approach at solving problems when usually we have certain idea of a concrete result but the way to achieve it is still unknown.


Group of filmmakers from Hungarian Polifilm stands somewhere in the middle. One year study at the school gives them an overview of film-making and of the work with media. Its graduates are then ready to work in television or in a film crew. However for their further professional growth they are also supposed to have experience in theoretical fields such as in practical film-making. This group was the most apparent with their film heart which they bring from their amateurs times and they also have the knowledge of how to solve various situations in the film. Experience with concrete film patterns are here against wishes of very unusual solutions and ability of experimentation.

Finish group consisted of students from a high school with specific focus on film-making. The length of their studies requires deeper knowledge of film-making itself and mainly with the processing of a film material. Future professionals made solutions in the most efficient way of use of given options. The way how to look at solving problems must be clear and well-arranged. It is not about experimenting but rather about treatment of assignment on the best level. To achieve this we need necessary technical equipment just as the skill to control them.


The effects of „Filmmakers from Europe”

We reached our expected goals with this project. Our primary aim was develop the professional skills, the advancement can be followed on the evolution of the movies that were made during the three workshop, but it was even more conspicuous during the shootings. Under the practices the students found that simple ideas should be realized because of the short time. The pupils have learned to work as a crew, after choosing the movie idea, they separated the roles in the team, and everyone were focusing on their own. Many students, mostly youngs of the Czech group attributed less signification to lighting before the workshop at Budapest, and they were using the location original lights. After getting to know the possibilities of lighting they tried to build them in. And this is also true for many other tricks that they learned on the workshop, for example for editing: they used to start think about post production only after shooting the films, but during the editing-practice they had to think about some specific editing before, and they had to plan some basics of the post production.


The fact, that their attention moved from the „meaning” of the film to the „form” and even more to the technique temporally set their movies back. Using many technical tools makes the shooting harder to organize, makes longer the necessary time for each cut and needs a lot more preparing. To use them a lot of routine is needed. One of the goals was the pupils to gain this routine, according to our experiences the more comfortable they move in technique, the more they will come back to the contents of the movie. This was the aim of the last workshop, where the students had to use the previously learned techniques, and professional tricks to build the film atmosphere and content.

Although their professional English was still not perfect at the end of the program, but they could properly express themselves, the most important was that they realized the necessity of developing their English.


The other big chapter was about the teachers team, exchanging know-how. Necessarily the differences between the schools came out, but all partners learned many lessons from the project. After each workshop a conference was held with the participation of the host teachers and the guest teachers about the school system, the background of the schools, the teaching methods and about the future. The teachers didn't learn only from each other, but also from the pupils crew by helping their work, giving them advices. To the teachers, who had experiences in higher education it was new to work with amatures, and to the teachers of Studio Lavka it was interesting to work with a more trained student group.


The participant institutions had always attributed a major role to international education. North Karelia College has the most experience in it, they organized lot of student-exchange program before, some of them were realized with the support of European Union as well. The House on the Field Cultural Association and Lužánky Leisure Centre are working in common projects for several years, their well-tried methods have been improved with the Finnish methods. As an educational institution we are all responsible to call the students attention to the opportunities offered by the European Union, for example international competitions, learning abroad, student-exchange programs, international filmfestivals and many other possibility, all available for everyone.


During the project – because of the short time – getting to know the actual nations culture didn't get significant role, but we tried to put it in into the week. For example in Hungary we organized trips outside of Budapest with guided tours (but we also made the shootings possible on these locations too), at Finland we get to know the beautiful area around the city, with many other places, and the topics of the workshops were in connection to present the host country.


The finished movies were presented on the last day on every workshop. The event was free and open to public, many inquirers appeared. The journey of the movies was not over with it, the best movies will be nominated to several short film festivals, and they all will be/have been screened at a festival in each participant country. The movies can be watched on the Internet (link below). Our experiences, and reports were continuously refreshed on the three school's homepage, before closing the project we published every articles left.



The future of the project

There are good perspectives for the projects future. A previous, smaller co-operation (between the Czech and Hungarian schools) was developed, and a larger, significant event sequence have been realized. The connections and experiences of the participant schools were expanded with international connections. Following this example other institutions working similar fields can realize international trainings. The participant students gained many useful connections abroad, with their technical knowledge they have a better chance to work in film crews, even in an international one. The workshops helped all three partner institutions with their perspective plans, opportunities are open for further international co-operation, even with more partners to join.


Our experiences – beside this article – can be read on our homepages:,, in English and in the language of the partner countries.


The films that we made can be find here: