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Training
IDFA Project Space

IDFA Project Space

IDFA Project Space offers first- or second-time directors the opportunity to work on their project with highly esteemed filmmakers and film professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Introduction

Carefully tailored to filmmakers’ individual needs, this in-depth talent development program offers participants the combined experience of project workshopping and longer-term organic support, all under the guidance of experienced mentors.

In 2024, IDFA Project Space takes place over four months, from June to September, with two online modules and one in-person week in Amsterdam. Filmmakers will have the chance to engage in a continuous process of growth within a program that flexibly adjusts to their specific needs with plenary sessions and tailored consultancies.

Previous tutors of the IDFA Project Space program have been Gladys Joujou, Ollie Huddleston, Qutaiba Barhamji, Kim Longinotto, Alina Marazzi, Alan Berliner, Audrius Stonys and Anne Fabini. Program alumni have included the directors of acclaimed films such as All that Breathes, Apolonia, Apolonia, Children of the Mist, Taming the GardenThe Mother of All Lies and Where Are We Headed.

Program

This is a project-driven program in which participants focus on strengthening the narrative of their documentary film project. Project stages can vary from the late development or early production stage to rough cut stage.  

The online component of the program, which takes place at the beginning and end of summer, consists of two elements: individual or group consultancy with industry experts; an inspirational program that includes online discussions with all participants. This online part of the program will partially be joined by wider group of filmmakers as well.  

During the summer, the in-person part of the program takes place in Amsterdam, where participants are matched with a tutor (an experienced director, producer, or editor) and spend an intensive week together working on their projects. Participants with a project in development or production work on the creative aspects in individual sessions. For participants with a project in the rough cut stage, tutors help refine their rough cut in the editing suite. 

Development & Production

This section aims to strengthen film projects by working intensively on all story elements. Depending on the project phase, production issues can also be addressed.

Focus is on:

  • Organizing a film idea or concept into a strong guiding narrative. Either defining characters and their stories or establishing and arranging themes for non-character-driven projects.
  • Finding the right balance between different story lines and shaping underlying themes
  • When character-driven, choosing the main characters. How do they add to your story?
  • Visualizing the story. How should the cinematography, sound design, and editing be used to strengthen the narrative? 

Rough Cut

The Rough Cut section requires shooting to be near completion when applying, with a rough cut ready in time for the start of IDFA Project Space. The participants will work intensively with an experienced editor to refine the rough cut.

Focus is on:

  • Defining the organizing principle of the film.
  • Identifying characters and/or themes and refining the storylines.
  • Fine-tuning the film’s rhythm and dramatic layers.

Participants

IDFA Project Space is open to directors making their first or second feature documentary. Film school students are not eligible. In line with IDFA’s mission, the focus is on creative documentary projects.

Filmmakers who are selected also have the opportunity to bring a sparring partner: a creative producer or a co-director. Filmmakers who are participating in the Rough Cut section must bring their editor. Participants are expected to have a working knowledge of English and to be available for the full duration of IDFA Project Space.

IDFA’s talent development programs aim at a broad division of creative projects. Some participants will be chosen from project teams that have already received a grant from the IDFA Bertha Fund, which supports filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania.

Application process

Applications are now open until February 15.

The following information must be included in the entry form:

  • Logline: provide a summary of your story (max. 50 words).
  • Synopsis of max. 400 words. Give an overview of your story, introducing the main characters (If applicable) and potential plot points.
  • Project description of max. 1000 words. This should include background information, main protagonists, access to protagonists, and the anticipated story structure and narrative trajectory. If your project is not character-driven, what is your project’s concept, what are the themes you want to bring across, and how is it constructed?
  • Visual approach of max. 1000 words. This should include your creative vision for the finished project—its visual look and feel. Explain your intended use of cinematic language or any artistic approach that informs the storytelling.
  • Project timeline: a timeline from the project's current state to the anticipated completion date. Your timeline should cover both the creative and production processes. Max. 200 words.
  • Project stage: Explain in detail what progress you will make between the moment of application and the start of the program in June (include important steps, meetings, or changes in the stage of production). This will give us a clear estimation of the suitability of the project and the needs that you will have during the program. Max. 200 words.
  • A detailed biography and filmography of the participant(s) (max. 500 words each).
  • Your goals for attending IDFA Project Space, including what you want to achieve during the program. Please share with honesty the challenges and obstacles you are facing, as well as the specific needs of your project. This can be either a written answer (max. 750 words) or a video (4 to 5 minutes).

If you are submitting a project for the Development & Production section:

  • Original audiovisual material of the project.This can be a teaser or selected research material, preferably representative of the style. A photo presentation or material from other resources that serve merely as stylistic example is not accepted.
  • Please note that if you are selected, we will ask you to send us a written update on your progress in the time between submission and selection.
  • Previous work of the director (audiovisual material—if available).

If you are submitting a project for the Rough Cut section:

  • An edited sequence of the project or a selection of scenes (approx. 20 minutes).
  • Please note that the rough cut should be ready no later than June. If not, we cannot let you enter the program.
  • Previous work of the director (visual material—if available).


Optional

  • Letter of recommendations from experienced film professionals (film directors, producers, official funding bodies, film schools).
  • Still(s) of your project.

If you have questions about the application email idfacademy@idfa.nl

Selection process

In assessing projects, a selection committee consisting of industry experts will consider the project’s qualities, its fit with regards to the program timeline, and the motivation and goals of the participants.

All applications that are complete will be considered for selection. Within four to six weeks, filmmakers will be informed if their project is pre-selected. If a project is pre-selected, we might contact you to conduct an online interview. The results of the selection will be communicated at the end of April.

Projects submitted to IDFA Project Space cannot be withdrawn after selection. From the selected projects, we expect commitment and availability to attend all sessions of the program, both online and in person.

Program fee


The participation fee is €1,400 for one person and €1,800 for two persons. Selected projects are asked to confirm participation within a week of notification. Upon confirmation applicants commit to the payment of the fee before May 30, 2024, and to attendance on the dates as indicated by IDFA Project Space.

The fee includes:

  • Accommodation for international participants (including breakfast), (1 room, double or single use).
  • Full tutoring. 
  • Editing facilities for Rough Cut projects.
  • Social events organized during the program.

This fee does not cover:

  • Travel expenses to Amsterdam.
  • Food outside of social events.

We understand that finding the finance to cover the costs of participation can be challenging. Therefore we advise to start looking into national, regional organisations and other as soon as possible. Once selected we can provide the necessary letters to support such a request.

For projects supported by the IDFA Bertha Fund, the Fund will pay the fee, hotel costs, and part of the travel costs.

Program dates

  • Online week: First week of June
  • Amsterdam week: July 1 to 6
  • Online week: First week of September

Recap program 2023
Selected projects 2023